El Segundo at night: Old Town Music Hall
Looking for something different and fun to do on a Friday or Saturday night? Go back in time to the Old Town Music Hall in El Segundo.
Ever since I went to this place a year ago, I fell absolutely in love. It's a special experience to come here. And it was completely unexpected. I've lived in the South Bay my entire life and had no idea something like this existed here. All I knew was that it played old movies. But the experience is so much more than that.
There's no electronic ticket system, you go to the window and buy your ticket. It's very informal and there's only one movie room to walk into. The small lobby and bathroom area are in their own way a preservation of history and have fun elements to them.
Entering the actual theater is a treasure. There's chandeliers hanging from the ceiling and a stage up front with various musical accompaniments including a player piano.
Each time I've gone, there's been an introduction to the theater as a man in an electronic wheelchair comes up to the stage. He maneuvers himself onto the chair and starts playing the organ. The lights dim, the curtains open, and this massive 1925 wind-powered pipe organ is revealed. It's incredible. I don't know anything about organs, but every time I see it, I'm impressed. They've also highlighted the different areas on the organ so while the song is being played you can actually see the notes that are being hit. The music is an audible show, while watching the organ play is it's own visual experience.
Then there'll be a sing-a-long that feels slightly embarrassing (can people really hear my voice?), but then exciting when more people catch on to the tune. Finally, a silent film is shown and an intermission before the actual movie.
So far, each movie I've seen I've actually loved. I've never heard of them beforehand too, but they've been engaging, and it's made me think of what it must have been like for the people watching it when it first came out. The last one I came to – "Anchors Away," had Frank Sinatra and Gene Kelly in it. I didn't even know Frank Sinatra was an actor. Gene Kelly I knew could dance, but after watching that movie, I've been pretty inspired to learn some tap dancing for fun.
Around since 1968, they not only show vintage silent and sound films, they also present live concerts in varying styles of music. I have yet to witness one of these shows but I'll share with you when I do!
When I came here on a date, an earthquake took place during the intermission, and my date suggested we should probably go outside, but I completely forgot about any earthquake safety drill (earthquakes happen so often, sometimes it just doesn't seem dangerous) and didn't understand why he would suggest that, until I kind of noticed the chandelier shaking above us. Don't worry about it though – that place is safe! And other than realizing I need to maybe be more pro-active about earthquake safety and listening to other people about it, we survived just fine!