New Year’s Eve 2013 in El Centro


Everything Los Angeles touches turns to shit. That phrase came out of my mouth at least twice on New Year’s Eve at the Grand Park event, possibly more but I can’t remember. Of course, it was in reference to local leaders trying to create something new in Downtown LA, a place to ring in the new year with a bunch of other people that don’t know where else to go. I bet they are shocked that so many people actually showed up. I am.

But that’s a bit harsh, I should rephrase that to something like “Every attempt by Los Angeles to use public space for social needs turns to shit”, but it doesn’t quite roll off the tongue. The supposed draw was some video projections on city hall, something to give the city “WOW”. Look at the pic above, multi-colored fake palm trees projected in the vicinity of recently planted ones. This would be a perfect moment to insert a political diatribe about the spectacle but I’ll refrain considering we were in the midst of the holidays. Enjoy that present of nothing.


But I will give you a review of the event, just for the sake of documentation. Guess you can’t always win.

Since Los Angeles is obligated by custom to implement all the dickhead ways it can to make social life just a bit more miserable than necessary, you first had to go thru a screening process before you get into the festival area. Luckily, this time around, they only wanted to look in your bags, most likely so you don’t bring in your own booze and put a dent in their alcohol sales. No pat down like Fiesta Broadway used to do, even back in the days before 9/11. So next year, sneak in your drinks on your person. I hope to remember this nugget of wisdom.

You might also want to sneak in some food cuz the lines for the “food trucks” were long. See the guy in the orange hoodie? He is trying to get to that orange truck in front, and is about at the middle of the line.


The line went down the stairs, as you can kind of make out from this picture. It ends just a bit past that lit up sign. It is disheartening to see another LA “festival” get turned into a series of lines, this is just an upscale version of Fiesta Broadway but with crappier bands. Waiting in bullshit lines is not festive.


This badly designed park, that has two streets running right through it, finally has to contend with the inevitable: it is not designed for human gatherings. Look at all these people waiting in line just to get to another side of the park, via a DIY desire line right thru the bushes in the middle of the street. Hooray for human ingenuity!


We got to the main stage area near City Hall, there was some mediocre band playing that we didn’t need to see again, and decided it was time for a drink. Hmm, can’t seem to find any booze providers even though it was mentioned they would have some. A quick stop to the information booth and it turns out the drinks are way back at the end of the park, in a beer corral. It already looked packed but there was no line to get in, good. STOP! Wristband please. Oh, guess we need to get one. We followed the wristband line for about a minute, this is it about midway, it wraps around the beer pen and goes to the other side of those booths. Damn.


And it kept going, this is where I finally got in and it had quickly extended as soon as I did. A long ass stupid dumb line just to get your ID checked. This is not my idea of fun. Of course, lots of people were waiting in it. We tried it out, just to see, but after about a minute of it moving really slow we realized it was just for the birds. The stupid birds. The pic above doesn’t convey how long the line was to get some plastic band on your wrist. Fuck this business.


Oh, you think that once you get your wristband you are golden? Sorry chump, get in yet another line! This is the beer “garden”, full of annoyed people waiting way too long to get a simple drink. But, surely, this is the only possible way to host a public gathering, nobody has ever done this any other way. Thank you for the inspiration skid row soup kitchens!


I’m not that stupid. Usually. Time to blow this festival of lines. After much walking around and encountering the inevitable cover charge

, we found a place that let us in and was equipped to handle a simple request of a drink. Geez, so much work.


Some time later we head back to the exciting place where the WOW is gonna happen. We have been promised magic. Now it turns out their are too many people wanting to witness the WOW, thus we are declined our request to participate. Somebody fucked up.


Lot’s of people outside of the gate. No New Year’s Eve celebration for you!


We decide to try our luck at another entry point, with great success! We got in and ran into the toilet lines.


Should we maybe try now to get the wrist band so that we can get a drink? Umm, no, life is too short. 11:28, people probably waiting for their first drink so they can toast the new year. Too bad the beer booths are scheduled to close in 2 minutes.

nye14It’s 11:32 and people are still waiting in line to get a wrist band.. Except that last call was 2 minutes ago. Nobody wins here. We decided it was time to go.

I do have to say it was nice to see such a diverse crowd of people in Downtown and that this event has potential but its probably always going to be limited by the backwardness of how the city deals with social gatherings. Any accumulation of people means riots I think is the working motto so its going to be a long time before they get it right. My suggestion would be to eliminate the barriers, open up the streets, let the ambulantes in that can actually feed massive crowds better than these inexperienced foodie trucks, let people bring their own drinks, let it be a real plaza where people can actually be in a social space without all the controls. Just bring in the porta-potties and some music.

Oh, and the highlight has to be something better than this cheesy 80’s video. How embarrassing.

Happy New Year!

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3 Responses to New Year’s Eve 2013 in El Centro

  1. apio says:

    That does sound miserable.
    I spent my New Year by myself drinking a few good beers and watching a horror movie. No lines, no disappointments.
    I’ll have my real party next week when a friend throws a wild birthday rager.

  2. city terrace says:

    i would stick with your great first line. i think i said it, when i saw at LAX, a place selling tofu omelette for $13. smoothies for $9. i am not the least surprised by NYE LA style. im surprised they didnt charge a cover. a cover to wait in line. wait, an LA line. i was in Querétaro where an open plaza was welcome, in fact there were 5. i did have a drink: atole de chocolate. season’s beatings.

  3. waltarrrrr says:

    Lines were the unifying activity this night. Seemed to be the thing to do. We even waited in line to get hot chocolate and extra cups for the booze we sneaked in. The best place for this night’s event was actually just outside the event at the Music Center. The outdoor bar in the plaza didn’t have lines, and there were actually seats and tables to sit at. And what’s even better, being the Music Center, you can BYOB! Because a sober NYE, is just… sober.

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