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The drive-in: Resized and revived for the urban crowd

November 22, 2007|Margaret Wappler

DOWNTOWN L.A.'S gentrification has been much ballyhooed, but let's face it: The night life options begin and end with bars. What if you don't feel like wading through throngs of USC poli-sci majors to get your next Dewar's?

Angel City Drive-In provides an edgy, creative alternative to the bar. Operated by DJ, filmmaker and former New Orleans club owner Morgan Higby Night, the makeshift drive-in projects cult classics from the top of Night's '56 Oldsmobile to a young, inked-up crowd that comes in cars, on bikes or on foot. The standard location is the parking lot on the side of the Alexandria Hotel, but through the end of the year, it'll take place at 4th and Broadway.

Night, who runs Angel City's parent production company Devil's Night with Heather "Pnut" Williamson, sees the advantages in Angel City's gritty setting.

"Our drive-in is D.I.Y. punk rock because it's part of downtown. It's still a bit dangerous here, a little scummy. We try to make it safe and professional, but those elements are undeniable."

The drive-in, only a few months old, may be scrappy, but it's also sweetly nostalgic. Film screenings have included "Pee-wee's Big Adventure," "Evil Dead" and "The Big Lebowski." Caterers such as Hot Dog on a Stick and Weeneez have been selling munchies, and skating coquettes from the Angel City Derby Girls hawk beer cozies and popcorn.

Night, 37, is dedicated to showing films that, according to their most rabid fans, can never get enough love.

"I have no interest in movies that are popular at the box-office. I want to show movies like 'Donnie Darko' -- once people catch on, they get a life of their own."

Many of the patrons have either never been to a drive-in or went when they were so young, they can't remember. "I feel like it's a piece of Americana I missed out on," Megan Hall said at the "Evil Dead" screening at the end of October.

Night himself has never been to a traditional drive-in, but "I always fantasize about that time. I felt like it was important to start one. Where else are teenagers going to go to have sex in their cars?"

-- Margaret.Wappler@latimes.com

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ANGEL CITY DRIVE-IN

WHERE: 240 W. 4th St., 2nd-floor parking lot at the corner of 4th and Broadway, L.A.

WHEN: Doors at 6:30 p.m., movie at 8 p.m. Saturday, "Blue Velvet"; Dec. 8, "Trading Places"; Dec. 15, "A Christmas Story"

PRICE: $30 per carload; $10, walk- or bike-in

INFO: angelcitydrivein.com

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