Edison

Last night was planned revelry at the Edison bar, a former electric plant in the basement of a building (LA’s first electric plant!) converted to a bar, complete with all the old machinery still about. Or at least the very large parts that couldn’t be removed.

I was looking forward to this night, and my usual drinking partner had agreed to meet and we would get our drink on. The enticement is they are celebrating happy hour with 35 cent martinis. One per customer. 40% off old fashioned cocktails, their speciality. But only on Wednesday and Thursday nights, from 5 to 7 pm. Oh, and appropriate attire required, period preferred, but definitely going out style. Hats and ties, dresses or skirts, no shorts, tennies, ball caps. And the person manning the velvet rope, gets call as to what is appropriate.

Okay, I can handle those details. Time to go shopping to find appropriate clothing!

I found a Goodwill just around the corner from the nearest Starbucks to me, and it has only taken me this long to find because I never walk down 6th to downtown. It’s uphill from here. Obviously. If I walk down 7th, 8th, or 9th or even Olympic, it is downhill to downtown, nearly flat. But 6th and higher start running into the hills, and run into the backside of Bunker Hill.

I was merely looking for a beaded clutch, something I knew would fit in with nightlife like attire. It’s important to have the accoutrements, if not the actual. You know, accessories make the outfit.

Digging in the dresses section, I found some good stuff, some actual vintage attire. Just not the right decade.

I’m not sure what decade I’m trying to go for. Gimlets and Depression Era things are mentioned in the same breath as the Edison, but I think the building was built in 1908, or so I recall from a tour I took of the Edison when it wasn’t open for drinking hours, part of a tour of historical buildings on Main a few years back. I have been itching to get back in the Edison ever since. Their website has vintage movies of a dancing woman in diaphonous attire, something I equate with the matrons of the Music Man, doing representations of the Grecian Urns in togas. Music Man, probably set in the late 1910s? I’m guessing here.

I decide to splurge and buy an evening gown ($9.99 for the skirt, bodice and drape), along with several silk shells (camisoles) and a paisley patterned skirt. The colors are such that I can mix and match the items I bought, taupe and mauve and lavendar. One thing I always remember from Gibson girl drawings and late Victorian memorabilia is white or off white stockings for the ladies. Black for schoolgirls and hired help, maybe even strumpets, but cream, perhaps to show off having to pay someone to get them so noticeably clean, for the gentlewomen. I have one pair of cream stockings. And I only have black heels. But the patterned skirt is perfect, made in Italy, and with pockets in front, not on the sides, so I can hide all my necessities on me, and dispense with a handbag or anachronistic shoulder bag entirely.

But with an exposed neckline and arms, I need jewelry, something I used to wear a lot of, which I hardly wear now. My grandmother’s gold locket, herself a product of the 1890s, goes around my neck, while a ring with a tin rose as the ornament goes on my married finger, and I take a seed pearl necklace and wrap it around my right wrist to act as a bracelet. Done.  

I have cleavage and exposed arms with my outfit, and I am not about to walk around parading my wares. I am already too often mistaken for something other than what I am, I will not deliberately encourage it. Fortunately, I have a black dress that I use as a duster, its three buttons perfectly covering my cleavage. Off I go.

There is no line in the alley which is the entrance to the bar. None. I am shocked. Two men are the guardians of the velvet rope, and neither have a problem with my attire. They are both dressed in suits, the security guard’s more modern than the other gentleman’s. Two women await me in the official entrance, one in a dress reminiscent of the drawings from the Oz books, something that Ozma would wear, nearly to the knee with a drop waist and sleeveless. She hands me a ticket, and tells me it is good for redemption of the 35 cent gin martini.

I descend the staircase. With every step it grows darker and darker. It does not help that the stairs themselves are dark concrete. One hand is holding my skirt up to not trip, while my other hand is needing the guidance of the rail. I can see the main bar now, which is busy, and I hope no one is watching my faltering entrance. It is a long entrance, as the ceiling in this basement is probably of the order of 25 or so feet high. Huge and dim does not make it feel spacious. It makes it feel intimate and romantic.

My drinking companion is no where to be found. It was a rather loosely made plan, and prone to mishap, especially since I am without phone these days, having lost it. All emails and waiting for responses, does not make for the greatest plans. I scan the area, seeking the brightest lit space. Two leather wing back chairs by a lamp are where I go. I am around a small corner at the foot of the staircase. I wonder idly if there is an elevator somewhere, surely someone would visit who could not navigate that staircase. Or how to get the alcohol down, those sorts of details. There must be an elevator somewhere. But is it modern or old school?

I take out my book and start reading. In my wanders, I had heard a bartender explain that tabs could be kept at the bar or at any table, but the two were separate. Table it is then, if someone was paid to come serve me, I wanted to give them a reason to be at work.

Pia showed up as my server. She wore a flapper inspired dress, but in addition to the beaded fringe it is also flashing bits of glitter, a 1960s inspired re-interpretation of the flappers. My sister made a similar dress for her Barbie once, I recall, in the era of discos. Pia memorized my name off my credit card and continued to call me by first name the entire time of my visit. Nice touch.

My gin martini showed up, with water unasked, and I had to wait a while for the grilled cheese I knew I needed to eat before consuming alcohol. The spicy Edison fries were excellent, and even the arugula bed of garnish under the grilled cheese was tasty. All worth the mere $5. And the martini? My god, it made my lips and tongue go numb. Glad I had a book to while away the time it took to consume. I had intended to order something more, but that martini was all I could imbibe in that sitting.

I wandered out, nearly 8 pm, and of course the sun was still out. Music by a band I knew was expected that night at La Cita, but when I walked by to ask when they would take the stage, I was informed it would be nearly 11:30. I wandered over to Lost Souls Cafe to see what was happening there, and found they were setting up a comedy night and stayed. We closed the cafe down, and as others wandered across the street to Bar 107, I went back to La Cita, only to find there was now a cover. Nearly 10:30, I figured it was time to go home. I wasn’t that fond of the band, I guess.

Down in the subway, smoke filled the platform, eminating from the tunnels. No posted train arrival times showed, and no one seemed to know what was happening. Repairs seem to be being made, but on the Union Station side. Perhaps if I went to the next stop, the trains would be running there. Or I would have to walk home.

At the next stop, I stopped two metro cops to ask were the trains running, perhaps a dangerous thing to do, since I hadn’t purchased a ticket yet. What was the point if I didn’t know if the trains were running? They explained they were, but only on the one side of tracks. They seemed impatient to be of any help. I noticed everyone else on the platform seemed to be listening, as no one else knew what was going on. So much for the monitors to display information actually being helpful. Go Metro!

I walked upstairs to buy my ticket now, and of course a train showed up, and since the next one went the wrong way for me, I must have just missed mine. The third train arrived, and I went home. Nearly midnight, but at least I hadn’t had to walk home in my heels.

Just another night in the city, dressed in steampunk appropriate attire.

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