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Arts and Entertainment

Photos: Dazzling 'Night On Broadway' Brings Out Tens Of Thousands

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In its second annual fête, Night on Broadway brought out tens of thousands who were treated to a massive block party full of free art, comedy and musical performances Saturday night. Even Skrillex brought down the house with a surprise performance.

In addition to the all-out party, seven historic theaters in downtown L.A. were all open to the public, dapperly dressed performers on stilts milled around the crowds, a Ferris wheel took over 5th and Broadway, and art installations and food trucks covered the festival, which spanned across Broadway from 3rd Street to Olympic Boulevard. Attendees donning lit-up headphones danced throughout the night at the Silent Disco on 4th and 5th streets; some said they hadn't done anything else that whole night but dance for hours. There was even a large Kids Zone where there were some rather talented young rockers performing covers of tracks from '90s bands like Better Than Ezra, while other children played with a massive Lite-Brite-like screen and swung around on a round hanging bed.

This event, which celebrates Councilman José Huizar's 8th year anniversary of his Bringing Back Broadway initiative that strives to revitalize the historic buildings of the Broadway Corridor, was packed to the gills, even more so than last year. There was an estimated 65,000 attendees at the festival. Lines wrapped around the blocks at each of the theaters. But perhaps, one of the most charming things about the night is that some folks didn't even know what they were in line for, and discovered new things they didn't know about.

While I was standing in line outside the Tower Theatre waiting to get in to see Mac Sabbath—a McDonald's-themed Black Sabbath cover band—I overheard two women say they didn't know what they were waiting for. They were in for a treat. Huizar himself introduced Mac Sabbath, announcing (practically screaming in a guttural metal rocker voice) that he was a huge metal fan, and that he felt compelled to be at this particular show. Huizar even made a tribute to Motörhead's late frontman Lemmy Kilmister, which upped his street cred. And then like McDonald's magic, twisted versions of Ronald McDonald, Grimace, the Hamburglar, and Mayor McCheese took the stage to the song, "Send in the Clowns." They rocked out to an homage of "Iron Man" with their own rendition, "Frying Pan," and made food-related puns, telling the crowd that they wouldn't be seeing "Twister Sizzler" tonight. Mac Sabbath may have been the most delightful act of the entire night.

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While Ozomatli and Aloe Blacc took over the outdoor festival stage to huge crowds, over at the end of the festival at the Theatre at Ace Hotel, Skrillex appeared in the balcony and starting performing during an hour slot where his OWSLA record label's artists were scheduled to DJ.

One of the other headliners of the night was comedian Reggie Watts:

And for the second year in a row, Chessboxing—a battle between brains and brawn where opponents challenge each other to chess then boxing—took place at Night on Broadway, but this year instead of at a theater, it was out in the open on Broadway. Some other new and fun additions included a virtual reality lounge where folks got to sample VR headsets, and Rebel Bingo Club that took a millennial spin on 21+ bingo full of dirty jokes, stuffed pandas and glittering disco balls. Burlesque dancers stripped down at the Million Dollar Theatre, and the public got to see the dazzling Lucent Dossier Experience's aerial silk performers.

For just being in its second year, Night on Broadway was even better than last year's, in its range of free performances, and bubbling excitement from the crowds. We can't wait to see what they have in store for next year.

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