It’s that time of year again—summertime in Santa Monica. Well, it’s been summer for a while now, but the best part of summer out here just got started a couple of weeks ago. I'm talking about on the .
This 26-year concert tradition known as "The Twilight Dance Series" is just one of the reasons this city is so great. I’m guessing that the majority of readers have attended at least one of them, but if you haven’t, here's the general breakdown:
Every summer Thursday from 7 to 10 p.m., a new band comes to the pier and rocks the stage while a sea of audience members crowd both the pier and a huge chunk of the beach surrounding it. The SaMo Mambo, The Bangles, Caracol, Missy Higgins and Kim Churchill have already come down and entertained the Santa Monica crowds, and there will be many more for the next seven Thursdays. (Ed. note: That includes tomorrow night, when the Slackers and Star Pool perform as part of reggae/ska-themed night.)
The best part of these concerts, hands-down, is the fact that they bring Santa Monica residents together. I have a few different sets of friends, some of whom I rarely see, that try to round up a group each Thursday to have drinks and appetizers at their house, then walk or ride bikes down to the pier for the concert. It’s a cool, hip tradition for a cool, hip city. I went to the concert this past Thursday, when rocked the stage at an all-Australian show.
My friend Josh was having people over at his house and grilling some food before the show, and he e-mailed me asking to join the crew. We don’t hang out outside of stand-up comedy much, but he’s a good guy, and this seemed like a good chance to get to know each other outside of “work.” (I put "work" in quotation marks because I have a hard time justifying telling jokes as work.) I won’t name names, but at least three of the people at his house are regular actors on pretty big television shows, so I was a little intimidated.
In true Santa Monica fashion, I rode to Josh’s place (which was close to Main Street), armed with a backpack full of pier-concert essentials. After some awesome grilled veggies and sausages, it was 7, and we decided to make our way down to the pier.
The band was great, from what I could hear, and it was cool that there were giant plasma screens hanging over the side of the pier. That allowed us to see the band while on the beach, since we couldn’t really see them up from where we were sitting.
While we were watching the performances, I felt a little weird when a girl came up to us with a plastic tube in her hand, asking for money.
“Would you like to make a donation to keep these pier concerts free?” she asked, holding the plastic tube about a foot from my face. Dollar bills were practically falling out of the top of the tube, so she had been making a killing, but something seemed a little shady to me. Awfully easy to go grab a tube and wrap a concert poster around it and start collecting money, right? I felt bad not giving her anything, but I also admired her sneaky business scheme if she was guilty of what I suspected.
I left the concert at about 8:30 to do a atO’Brien’s Pub on Main Street, leaving that show an hour later to come back and get the tail end of the concert. I met up with my girlfriend at , one of my favorite burger/beer joints in Santa Monica. Her friend had befriended some Australian guys who had been traveling in America for the past six months. Two of the coolest guys ever, and we spent the rest of the night teaching them American sayings and telling them which restaurants to hit up before they head back home.
Thursday nights at the pier are going to be a tradition for my friends and me, and I’d recommend them to all Santa Monica residents. We live in this area for a reason, and we owe it to ourselves (and our checkbook) to enjoy what we pay for. And what better way to enjoy pricey rent than to celebrate it with a free concert?
Have you caught any of the Twilight Dance Series concerts this year? Tell us all about it in the comments box below.