You know you’re not in Kansas anymore when you’re hanging on Halloween Night at Mary Pickford’s theater for a screening of the original “Dracula” starring Bela Lugosi, with Phillip Glass’ hypnotic original score performed live by the exquisite Kronos Quartet.
The annual Black & White Ball was hosted by The Black Tux, held Saturday, October 31, at the Theatre at Ace Hotel, Los Angeles. The costumed dance party was a no miss sold out event held by local outfit The Black Tux. Starting at 10 pm, DJs Daniel T (Cosmic Kids), Peanut Butter Wolf and Vito and Druzzi (The Rapture DJ set) took over the decks.
Dante Fontana (from kaleidoscopic VHS repository Everything is Terrible) added sensory visuals and things like secret surprises and tarot readings.
The L.A.Opera Off Grand-hosted event, followed by a Black & White Ball, was the place to be seen in Los Angeles on October 31st — no mean feat when you consider there were a dozen other All Hallow’s Eve events in downtown L.A. alone that same evening. (No one does Halloween better than L.A., what with its legions of make-up artists and warehouses of costumes.)
No doubt, most of the audience had seen, at the very least, excerpts of the 1931 iconic vampire film that has spawned a thousand others. But to watch it in the historic United Artists theater, designed by Silent Era superstar Mary Pickford herself, was quite literally a sight to be seen. (Pickford along with her famous partners in the movie studio United Artists — Charlie Chaplin, Douglas Fairbanks and DW Griffith — built the theater in 1927 as a spectacular showcase for their new movie studio.)
Dripping in the ornate Spanish Baroque style that Pickford favored, the theater evokes the grand Cathedral in Seville, Spain.
The United Artists Theater in Downtown LA was designed by C. Howard Crane for the Maverick Film Studio founded by Pickford, Fairbanks, Griffith and Chaplin, the interior was directly inspired by the 16th-century Cathedral at Segovia.
The grand entrance, replete with intricate details reveal Pickford’s instinct to house cinema in a perfect setting for the arts. The ornately decorated open balcony and mezzanine overlook the expansive theater, orchestra, and proscenium arch while thousands of tiny mirrors glimmer in the vaulted ceilings. Richly colored murals depict the legends of film’s Golden Age, immortalized in mythic attire.
In short, it was the perfect venue to screen a classic horror film, made even spookier for the evening by the audience attired in their bloodsucking best and the theater’s thousand nooks and crannied bathed in bloody red light.
The Kronos Quartet played throughout the film, positioned behind the venue’s enormous movie screen. Backlit in a way that made the musicians appear as ghostly characters on the screen, they became an instrumental Greek chorus that moved the action along at a vigorous pace.
Kudos for LA Opera Off Grand’s melding art with an environment in an evening to remember.