Sleepless: The Music Center’s Illuminated Slumber Party

Sleepless: The Music Center After Hours is a multi-sensory late night art extravaganza hosted in Downtown Los Angeles, and we got to check out the first installment of this season's series.


When you step into the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion in the late hours of 11:11pm, you enter a glittering palace of lights. The building’s tall, glass windows are illuminated by dark hues of purple, blue and red while bubbly flakes of foam snowflakes cannon out of machines above. From the Music Center Plaza’s ostentatious courtyard of floor-lit fountains to the grandiose, modern architecture of the Ahmanson and Mark Taper Forum, you’re engulfed in a palace of urban enchantment. In efforts to transfer guests into a dreamlike state of existence and escape, the Music Center hosts Sleepless: The Music Center After Hours every winter season, and kicked off their first installment in the series this last weekend. While their version of a late night Los Angeles dream may closely resemble an adult prom, it offers loads of sensory stimulation (three floors to be exact) to keep you awake and busy till the closing hours of 3 A.M.


Floor one of Sleepless introduces you to more snow, shadow performances and illuminated fantasies. Yup, shadow performances are a thing. A magnificent, sparkling thing. For this edition, artist Miwa Matreyek marches in place behind a projector that is lit by images of hand-drawn cityscapes and oceans twinkling amidst her giantess figure stomping through them—all the while, a soft, ambient soundtrack accompanies her. Just below the first floor, a live harpist introduces guests to a particularly harmonious restroom visit soundtrack: “Pull at your Harp’s Strings.”


The energy intensifies once you make your way to the second floor, a level that features a vibrant mix of music, lounges and photo opps galore. Leave the party bus and enter a massive ballroom of crystal chandeliers and blinking dance floor lights set to a colorful set of video projections by video artist Kytten Janae. DJs Adult Contemporary and Pacific Beach Vinyl help complete the vibes with a set of psychedelic and electronic tunes. While you trek through the hallway to the next room, you hear live readings of classic stories by Charles Dickens, Edgar Allan Poe and others bellowing through the speakers. While the idea initially sounds intriguing, it makes for a silly side distraction amidst the optimistic, LSD-induced dream state that the center is trying to create. Upon exiting the hallway you thus enter selfie city: the black light installation room by Debi Cable. While the wall-to-wall installations of glow in the dark paint make for endless photos, the true way to experience this room is to find yourself a pair of 3D glasses, which create an eye-opening, straight up trippy visual experience. All is set to music, of course, courtesy of DJs picked by LA’s music and art curators dublab.



The third and final floor takes it down a notch. Take a gander at the previously mentioned adult prom dance floor from an aerial view or mosy on over to the lie down lounge, the antithesis to the event, which allows you to take a break from all the multi-sensory attractions. A screening of an experimental film from 1947 playing in the distance can either lull you to sleep or enhance the dream-like state you’ve been experiencing throughout the night. Regardless, it’s hard to not further melt into the fluffy, white beanbag chairs dispersed throughout the room. Once you’ve accomplished a late night nap, try to remember the dream you might’ve just had—when you walk on over to the other end of the room, step into a gigantic line of people waiting to have their dreams explained to them in private booths via telephone by interpreters Doreen Calderon and Ashley Owen.


Sleepless’s eclectic array of lights, music and dancing are a pretty strange, vague yet intriguing concept of what a dreamlike state would be that is hard to describe in any other way that isn’t “So L.A.” While the night reminded me of the L.A. Zoo’s psychedelic holiday lights extravaganza without the animals, I still found it a unique event worth attending. From each installation and handpicked piece of amusement, it’s clear that the center put an incredible amount of work and care into crafting a worthwhile treat for attendees. Each Sleepless event is a new and different experience each time, so keep an eye out on the music center’s calendar for your next chance to enter the next interpretation of a Los Angeles slumber party.


Writer, coffee guru, audiophile, and L.A. native with a B.A. in Literary Journalism from U.C. Irvine. Other side passions and endeavors include public radio, hiking, and playing big Japanese drums.
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