The Bodega Wine Bar provides wine lovers a casual setting to share plates and try new wines with friends without requiring a deep grapey understanding. Fluff out your cheeks for a cheese plate's offering of the day's selections paired with crackers, nuts, and quince paste ($13) while sipping a glass of Ferreira tawny porto ($9) or one of Bodega's Private Label wines—a Paso Robles red and a Santa Ynez white ($8). While gargling bored doe merlot ($9/glass), snack on a smoked-turkey panini made with tomato, arugula, pesto mayo, and goat cheese ($10). Various pizzas are also available ($11–$13), and beer, cold sake, and soju cocktails await those who don't like wine but want to keep their tongues from shriveling up into a tongue-raisin.
The Los Angeles Ballet is a group of more than two dozen dancers who prance across the stage like marionettes controlled by Santa's team of bethumbed reindeer. See this renowned company perform a holiday classic to the choreography of experienced husband and wife team Thordal Christensen and Colleen Neary.
The husband-and-wife duo behind Magicopolis, who have become seasoned television guests thanks to frequent praise from the press, delight and surprise audiences with the all-ages Broadway-style magicomedy stage show Escape Reality. The 90- to 120-minute spectacle showcases original takes on classic magic enigmas such as dangerous escape acts and on-stage levitation, a skill first used during dunks at Salem all-star basketball games. Eye-popping feats are punctuated with engaging music, comedy, and audience participation, including mind-boggling mind-reading demonstrations. Magicopolis is an especially up-close-and-personal affair, and unlike Hollywood films, where the actors are eternally imprisoned behind an impersonal screen, the Magicopolis magicians make lasting connections with their guests.
New York-native John Cassese's motto is, "If you can walk, you can dance." The celebrity dance instructor and choreographer's own quick-stepping career began at the tender age of 10, jumpstarting a passion that would eventually take him careening across the stages of off-Broadway productions, nightclubs, dance competitions, and the occasional monster-truck rally. It wasn't until he relocated to Los Angeles that an agent dubbed him "The Dance Doctor," and soon after, he found his fleet-footed prowess and teaching abilities in high demand amongst production studios such as Sony, Paramount, and 20th Century Fox.
Between choreographing a Charleston dance sequence on AMC's Mad Men and singing at the 50th birthday parties of Billy Crystal and Wolfgang Puck, John leads a team of instructors as they teach celebs and everyday Tinseltowners the finer points of styles ranging from ballet to hip-hop. Despite all the fanfare, his biggest praise comes from his work with soon-to-be-married couples, who seek his advice on everything from basic steps and song selection, to the length of the post-cake-cutting conga line.
More than 10 pro and amateur battles swarm the fight card in the California Fight Syndicate's first L.A. event. At the top of the bill, Joseph “Leonidas” Henle, a popular cast member from The Ultimate Fighter's 11th season, locks knuckle horns with middleweight Hector Carillo. After a sabbatical from the cage to focus on a second career as a miniaturist, fellow Ultimate Fighter alum Jesse “Powder” Newell heaves shin sandwiches at fellow featherweight and MMA veteran Aaron “Blood Spiller” Miller. Between fights, fans can cool down from the carnage by checking out the California Fight Syndicate's ring girls, who entertain the crowd with alluring double-dutch routines. Swift jabs, fierce kicks, and vicious takedowns rattle a cage set up in the historic Santa Monica Civic Auditorium, which hosted the Academy Awards in the '60s, when they were much more hardcore.
At twin cinemas in Hollywood and Santa Monica, American Cinematheque preserves the thrill of classic films and introduces the newest works by modern auteurs. A relic of the glamorous past, the Egyptian Theatre was built in 1922 and inspired by the search for the Valley of the Kings in Egypt. From its first showing of Robin Hood until today, it has operated as a movie house, and now sends 60-foot-wide images and crystalline sound flashing through the ornate mirage of its interior.
Today, the screens' ever-unpredictable and constantly changing lineup can include anything from the lightweight whimsy of Citizen Kane to the modern masterpiece Spaceballs, and frequent festivals focus on themes from world cinema to film noir.
At both cinemas, modern works are often further illuminated by their creators, with events and post-show discussions featuring the directors and actors.