I’m totally having an attitude adjustment about LA. I realize now that my experience was being contaminated by a toxic friendship. Someone I had believed to be generous and enchanting turned out to be manipulative and ill-spirited. But, now that I’ve removed that person from my life and I’ve let go of problems and injustices associated with her, life is really starting to blossom here in this “labirinto di pazzia” – as the Italian-American and I fondly refer to this city. And, I have other amazing friends to thank for guiding me through the negativity and helping me embrace what Los Angeles does have to offer. Clara Berta, the “Italian-American” and my longtime friend Dustin are true blessings in my life here. I’m meeting more everyday, like my new biz partner (more about that soon!), Kristelle and David, a young gentleman Dustin introduced me to who has a stunning, Frank Sinatra-era voice. (David helped co-found Artful Edutainment though is no longer working with the non-profit.)
So, as I sit here at Coupa Cafe, a delightful little Beverly Hills oasis I just discovered today, I share my latest LA adventure:
Last night was an absolute trip. I gotta hand it to LA for being the epicenter of all things “hot and happening.” One finds themselves stumbling into all kinds of surreal experiences. So After playing phone tag for a few days with another quality friend I’ve met here, we finally connected yesterday evening on the phone as I was jamming out to David Guetta, walking home from an evening yoga class.
“I’m headed to a bar for a friends birthday in NOHO, want to join?” he offered.
“You know, I’ve been so focused on work… I do need to get out,” I reasoned. “I’d love to come. Just gimme a couple hours to get there since I gotta do the whole bus thang. Cool?”
All I knew was that I’d be going to visit a friend I hadn’t seen in a few weeks… by the time I arrived I got wind of the plan to work our way into the private party located on the second floor of the new, hip NOHO joint The Federal. I’m not one to get too worked up about “getting in” to the “exclusive” events of LA but I’m not opposed to giving it a shot either. Apparently my friend had been working the relations with the bouncer before I even got there and we wound up strolling right on up. The buzz was that the event was full of professional dancers…
Now THAT is probably the closest thing I could get to becoming starstruck in LA. I LOVE to dance. As a child, I begged my mom to sign me up for dance lessons. We even bought a little dance outfit and I had a studio photo shoot in that little outfit. But, I never got to take lessons! I don’t blame my mom. I wanted the dance lessons on top of the rec soccer, select soccer, basketball, volleyball, track and traveling singing group I was already involved with. I didn’t want to give up any of the other activities, so dance (and music lessons for that matter) never happened. (I still cringe about missing out on both though.) So yeah, the whole “me always trying to literally do everything at once” is definitely a syndrome I was born with… lol. Despite the lack of dance lessons, I’ve managed to pick up a fair amount of salsa and I love to simply get down in the club. Inhibition is for the birds. I could care less of how it might look, my spirit is simply lit with joy when let loose and dance. But, feedback has suggested that I’m not so much the disaster on the dance floor… great to know I’m not the crazy dance floor freak at least. 😉
Right, back to The Federal. Turns out some of the nation’s best dancers were there, all celebrating the birthday of Roman Vasquez. Here’s a quick bio of this badass:
Coming from Phoenix, Arizona, Roman began his career as a hip-hop dancer. As his desire for dance grew, he received his technical training in his hometown and progressed while attending dance conventions and performing locally. Moving to Las Vegas he performed in EFX with David Cassidy at the MGM Grand Hotel, Splash at the Rivera and became a member of the Culture Shock Hip-hop Dance Troupe. Now residing in Los Angeles, Roman has had the opportunity to work with artists such as Eva Longoria, Roselyn Sanchez, Britney Spears, Christina Aguilera, Jennifer Lopez, Jessica Simpson, Celine Dion, Anastacia, just to name a few. Other television and video credits include Dance with Jerry Springer, Pepsi, Sprite, EL Pollo Loco, Days of Our Lives and Tina Landons Instructional video.
Awesome. So yeah, many of these kings and queens of dance began busting out their impromptu moves in the dance circle. Couple this with the fact that I haven’t gotten out to dance in months and I was on a complete natural, dance high. Watching these pros bust their moves made me long to be one of them. Okay, amidst all these amazing professionals, I was starting to feel a bit inhibited. Nonetheless, I let it all out once the dance circle dissolved. Then the best compliment of the night: one of these pros, Sid from Australia, started dancing with me.
“I like your style,” he acknowledged.
“I’ve got no style,” I laughed back.
“Nah, you’ve definitely got your own style.” After busting some moves together, I clued him in to how thrilled I was to see all this talent right here, in my face.
“But you’re a dancer right?” He asked. I laughed again.
“I’ve never had a dance lesson in my life,” I confessed. “But, I LOVE to dance. I just go with what I feel.” (I have had a few salsa lessons… but no hip hop, jazz, etc…)
“You’ve got to be kidding me,” he prompted. “Are you serious??” I nodded sheepishly and admitted, “I don’t really know what I’m doing, but the moves just come. I would love to learn.”
“You know the language,” he asserted. “Now, it’s just about learning the words.” Exactly!!
After that entire exchange I was beyond giddy. A pro dancer thought I had some promise! Absolutely made my night!!
So, as I do commit myself more to LA, I’m making dance class a priority. At 25, I know it’s too late to think of any career out of it. But, that’s not what I want from it. I just want to finesse what my body already can’t help but to express. I just want to DANCE!!
And speaking of surreal LA moments, I will just recap on a few I have yet to mention. They were cool but not nearly as cool as the dance experience…
- A wave of hello to/from Adam Sandler… as he filmed on the street I was living on at the time.
- Approaching Zoe Dechanel and annoying her with my pitch to get involved with a project… oh well.
- Neve Campbell… eating sushi at the next table.
Then, there are the restaurants. The Italian-American has really given me a divine sampling of LA:
Probably my favorite restaurant I’ve thus encountered… ever. Here’s a bit about it:
The Bazaar is chef José Andrés’s masterpiece. At least so far. With designer Philippe Starck, he has fashioned a vast, shadowy space that includes a swanky bar, a patisserie with acres of sweet-filled glass cases, a chef’s tasting room, a shopping emporium by Moss, the Manhattan design mecca, and two glamorous flanking dining areas where Andrés has poured everything he knows about tapas into a menu that marries regional culinary traditions with his formidable creativity…
There’s an even wider selection of fresh inventions that elevates the honored tradition of bar snacks to new heights. Like: liquefied mozzarella with brussels-sprout leaves and the most intensely sweet cherry tomato you’ve ever popped in your mouth — perfect as the milky cheese flows over your tongue. A Philly cheesesteak made with wagyu beef in “air bread” like a tiny calzone, a crisp crust around a pocket of air and melted cheddar — the coolest-ever sublimation of an American sandwich.
The liquid olives, dry ice caipirinha and the cotton candy margarita are fun too…
Just as good as anything I’ve ever enjoyed in Italy…
At Il Pastaio, brothers Celestino and Giacomino Drago spin the sort of culinary magic that’s made their whole family famous in Southern California. Working with the freshest pastas and produce, the chefs prepare antipasti, duck ragout, and penne with swordfish to please even the most discerning palates. Risottos are abundant and always unique, and truffle-cheese fondue is an excellent choice for polishing off the evening.