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At outdoor events in downtown Los Angeles, such as the Grand Performances series that included Friday night's Ozomatli concert, or the Los Angeles Shakespeare Festival's summer performances, part of the fun is people-watching, and much of what you see people doing is turning their heads side to side and murmuring, "This is so cool. I've never seen downtown like this."

California Plaza, where the Grand Performances concerts are held, can be a lovely scene in the evening, with the sunset reflecting off the little man-made reflecting pool and the office towers. The tall buildings surrounding the stage at the top of Bunker Hill give almost a canyon effect, sort of a glass-and-steel version of what is now the Hyundai Pavilion at Glen Helen in San Bernardino, which nestles into the curve of steep mountains, out on the current fringe of SoCal sprawl. Still, California Plaza is not really the ideal concert venue: the acoustics are muddy, and the stand of small trees that provide a welcome oasis of green for noontime lunchers block the view of the stage from the north.

Part of the fun of hanging out and seeing a performance downtown at night is that it's still relatively rare. You don't usually hear people saying, "It was fun to be in Westwood at night," because it is unremarkable to work and play in Westwood: you can sit on the patio of the Westwood Brewing Company and crane your neck a bit to see office towers looming over you, but that's a permanent venue; you could have that experience any night or day.

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As more and more such programs help bring people downtown, and with the opening of the Walt Disney concert hall, new restaurants, and lofts and apartments that let more people live downtown, being downtown at night has become a less unusual experience for many people. The novelty of the setting isn't the only thing that is fun about these performances, though. Downtown seems to attract a greater variety of people than other neighborhoods, and you'll see a mix of people that includes office workers still in suits who have stayed downtown to see the entertainment, college kids, artists and activists in dreadlocks and hemp, families who have taken the train in from the San Fernando Valley or Pasadena, homeless people, and people in evening dress headed for the Patina restaurant or the opera. The entertainment and the setting provide reasons for Angelenos to actually mix with each other, and that should be a good reason for the funding of these free concerts and entertainment to continue.