Last week, as I was trolling around on the internet as I usually do in preparation for my weekend and in order to try to find some fun and inexpensive ways to waste time and get off of my own couch, I saw a post on Twitter about a “Double Feature Drink-Along” at a theatre downtown of two of my favorite super awesome 80’s fantasy kids movies of all time: Labyrinth and The Neverending Story. I instantly sent the link to a couple of my friends with the subject line of “WE HAVE TO GO TO THIS.”
It was decided, though, a few other friends who had been invited couldn’t make it, that my good friend G and myself would hook up early, grab some grub and then head down to the Downtown Independent Theatre on Main Street in Downtown LA for the main event. Organized by the theatre and Cinema Speakeasy, this was sure to be a good time. But because I wasn’t sure how many people would indeed be attending, I didn’t buy tickets ahead of time. (I wish I had but we’ll get to that.)
G and I arrived slightly after 7 pm and found that the parking was easy – there is a $5 lot just next door to the theatre and the theatre itself is a gorgeous strikingly modern building that sort of stands out next to a Latin dive bar in a section of town that’s not quite there yet in the massive gentrification of downtown Los Angeles. Outside the theatre was one security guard checking pre-purchased tickets, but as non-ticket holders, we were told to wait outside. So we did. For about a half hour. This was the downside to the evening.
When the event managers finally did come outside, they simply told everyone to go in and buy tickets, which begs the question – why were we made to stand outside? During the films, G and I both noticed that there were more than enough empty seats inside the theatre, which made our waiting unnecessary and kind of irritating. Not to mention that a number of the people who had been made to wait had actually bought tickets ahead of time, but they were on the Will-Call pick up list so didn’t have tickets in hand. It seemed to me that the security guard should have been given more clear instructions in the situation and all that waiting could have been avoided.
But whatever, we got in and got our first round of drinks. The drink prices weren’t great ($6 for beer or wine) but weren’t horrible and with the purchase of a ticket, the promoters generously gave everyone a Tecate to get their evening going. The beer choices were pretty good actually – limited yes, but at least it wasn’t all Tecate.
G and I found seats in the upper end of the theatre and settled in. Not long after, our hosts came through to outline the rules of our game and all bets were off. It wasn’t just a drink-along; it was also a sing-along, shout-along, heckle-along, as well as occasional dance party and comedy night. Best line of the night, I think came from the man sitting just behind us. As the opening credits came up on The Neverending Story, someone shouted, “Whatever happened to that kid?” at the name of Noah Hathaway who played the fearless, feathered-haired pretty pretty warrior child and said guy let go without missing a beat “I’m sitting right here.” (By the way, since I was actually curious, I looked it up. It turns out the former child actor owns a tattoo shop with his wife and races motorcycles here in Southern California. I wonder if anyone has ever asked him for a Luck Dragon Tattoo?) Honestly, the minute the lights went down and the first film started and EVERYONE in the theatre started singing along to the brilliantly 80’s theme to the Neverending Story, I knew I was in for a fun evening.
After the first film, there was a short intermission for bathroom breaks and to gather more beers for the next film, so G and I went up to the rooftop bar at the theatre, which offered a beautiful view of the LA skyline and a place for smokers to top off. Being in those situations always almost makes me wish I still smoked, but truly I wasn’t drunk enough to wander over to bum one off of anyone.
Again, the comments from the audience started as soon as the opening credits rolled on the second film, Labyrinth, that classic Jim Henson creation featuring the legendary David Bowie as the Goblin King with the most magnificent mullet ever created by a hair stylist and a series of disturbing crotch shots (which was featured as part of our game as we watched the film), not to mention the introduction of Jennifer Connolly’s baby blues to the world (as well as her then caterpillar like eyebrows) as she screeched “It’s Not Fair” throughout her fantasy world.
It was a good night. I laughed my butt off and for the low price of $12 plus drinks, I got a little tipsy, had a good time and got to see a luck dragon in all it’s 80’s bad computer graphics imagery on a large screen again. The idea is a simple one and yeah, it would be cheaper to do this at home with a group of friends and DVD rentals, but still, you can’t replace the random commentary of a lot of people feeding off each other throughout the night. It was the best part; and in hindsight, totally worth a little waiting.
Next time, I’ll be sure to buy tickets ahead of time and probably will try to get an even bigger group of friends to go with us. Maybe I’ll even go one step further and show up in costume (as was encouraged on the event listing, but sadly only a few brave souls took that to heart). Okay, yeah, probably not that last bit, but I’ll be sitting in the back with friends singing along as loudly as I can.
You can sign up for the Downtown Independent mailing list here: http://www.downtownindependent.com/
Also, sign up for Cinema Speakeasy’s mailing list as well… they do events in both LA and San Francisco and they’re always worth checking out. http://www.cinemaspeakeasy.com