Saturday, November 7, 2009

Live! At the Hollywood Palladium

Last night Gabriel and I went to a Pixies show. We see a fair amount of live music; some of it in glorified storefronts or up-cycled warehouses, some of it in shiny new clubs, some of it in revamped theaters like the Wiltern or, in this case, the Hollywood Palladium. I always feel that the old theaters have a lot more romance to them.

This was our fourth time at the Palladium, having seen Bob Dylan there last month and the Decemberists during the summer. We attended a tattoo convention there a couple of years ago too, before it was renovated. Still, I knew very little about the place.

Then, last month, we found a bit of ephemera at a flea market that got me wondering. This item is a picture sleeve. Apparently the Palladium once employed professional photographers who would snap a picture of you and your sweetie dancing. Inside, there's room for the photo and for autographs. Just in case you ended up rubbing shoulders with movie stars, I guess!

Obviously, this place has quite a history! After a bit of snooping I found out that it opened in 1940, on the site of the original Paramount film lot. Frank Sinatra and the Tommy Dorsey orchestra played the first night. It was designed, in all its art deco splendor, by Gordon Kaufmann. He also designed the Greystone Mansion, Santa Anita Racetrack, and the Los Angeles Times building, so we can thank him for much of what I think of as "romantic L.A.".

Over the years it became a bit seedy. But along the way it saw the Jimi Hendrix Experience, The Cure, Lawrence Welk, the MC5, Taj Mahal, and even President Kennedy grace its stage. A serious nadir came in the early 90's, when a brawl forced a Marky Mark and the Funky Bunch performance to be canceled.

But now it's back! The renovation is subtle, but it has done wonders. The floor is still polished wood, preserving its dance hall roots. The concession stands still blend unobtrusively with the flow of the crowd, evoking a more genteel time. When gazing at one of the chandeliers you could almost believe it was 1940 again. That is, until you catch sight of someone taking a picture of that same chandelier... With their iPhone.

12 comments:

  1. Oh how awesome. I had older parents, and my mother would often wax poetic about dance halls, but none are really preserved up here. As for the autographs, back in the day people collected them from everybody they knew and/or met - they weren't reserved for celebrities. I'd wager that's where customs such as signing year books came from. I've always thought it would be a lovely custom to start up again.

    Cool post!

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  2. Ahh, that makes a lot of sense tatty! Thanks for the info! I agree, I would love that. In fact, I think it would be cool if they had roaming photogs again!

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  3. I LOVE old restored theaters soooo romantic!

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  4. So much history! There is a theater near my house which has been preserved and i LOVE going there. The details are so beautiful.

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  5. i love art deco, what a beautiful theatre! and great you saw pixies and dylan even!!

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  6. Wonderful post! And I'm extremely jealous of all the cool shows you've been to recently. Sadly, it's been years since we've been to a concert.

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  7. Aww, you gotta make time to go Laura! Very energizing!

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  8. Sounds like fun! :)
    31everything.com

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  9. Sounds like an awesome place!

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