Los Angeles: Dusk Till Dawn
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Night at the Museum

Caption | Headliner DJ Moonbaby mixing funk in the African mammals hall at the Los Angeles County Natural History Museum's First Friday event.

Caption | The backlit mammals in the foreground contemplate the diaramas.

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By Albert Sabaté

Hundreds of young Angelenos shared art, culture, music and drinks Friday night at the Los Angeles County Natural History Museum. Museum patrons came to hear discussions on toxic algal outbreaks and marine biology in Southern California and see their new favorite artists or to just visit the museum, remembering the awe-inspiring dinosaurs from their childhoods.

The museum's monthly First Friday event included live performances by Tallest Man on Earth and Gamble House; disc jockey sets by DJ Moonbaby and resident DJ Them Jeans (a.k.a. Jason Stewart); a discussion lead by marine biologist and University of Southern California professor David A. Caron and a tour by his colleague Regina Wetzer.

In its sixth season, every First Friday event features a presentation, tour, DJs and live performances. This year's theme is "No place like home: the science of Southern California."

"I love the museum, the music and the atmosphere. The atmosphere is young, hip and fun," said elementary school teacher Marlena Gonzalez, 31. "It's where I've been many times during the day and I love a different experience at night."

For Southern California resident and recent graduate Mike Valdes, 25, who had never heard of First Fridays until he saw that Tallest Man on Earth was performing there, it was the perfect combination.

"I haven't been here in years," he said. "Grab a couple of drinks, check out a concert on top of that, I thought it was awesome. I'm loving it."

One could feel an added excitement at the museum event that was much more than a night at the bar. Patrons shared California-themed cupcakes and wore 3-D glasses as they walked through the exhibits.

"I think this is the best of both worlds," said student and first-timer Will Burns, 26, who liked not only the cultural aspect but also the cocktail part.

About 1,700 people attended the event. Tickets to see the performing artists, who were the main draw for many first-timers, sold out. But many also attended the early evening lecture.

The profile of the patron of the museum changed as the night progressed. During the lecture, the start of the event, the crowd was a little bit older and more mixed. There were also fewer people.

Later in the evening "it feels different. [There are] definitely more hipsters coming in at night," said Gonzalez.

Patrons couldn't stop raving excitedly about how much fun the night was. Gonzalez brought 10 friends to the event. Cody Cannell, 26, Valdes' friend, was grateful to his friend for "dragging him along." Burns and his girlfriend, Joy Tanizaki, 24, said they would try harder to bring their friends next time.

Gonzalez and her friend agreed that if they could change anything about the event it would be the closing time. "[It should go] till 2 a.m. at least," she said.

Next month's First Friday will be the last of 2010. On June 4, the museum will host Andrea Ghez and Alyssa Morgan for the discussion and tour on the solar system; performances by Peanut Butter Wolf and Neon Indian; and DJ sets by DJ Them Jeans and Classixx.

Joy Tanizaki and Will Burns reading about the dinosaurs.

As the night goes on, the museum fills with younger patrons.

Artist Tallest Man on Earth performing.

Take a 360 degree tour of all the action. Use the SHIFT key to zoom in and CONTROL to zoom out.

Mike & Cody @ NHM First Fridays from treblalbert on Vimeo.

Mike Valdes and Cody Cannell share their experiences and impressions.

The stories: 24 Hour Diner | Bicycle Kitchen | Club Hwood | Crime Scene | Flower Market | Food Trucks | Ghost Hunters
Hollywood Park | Night at the Museum | Night Golf | Night Productions | Santa Monica Pier | Starry Night | Wig Out

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Background photo by MikeFinkelstein