Reggae and Burlesque and Charities, Oh My: Spectacular and Unconventional Valentine's Day Ideas

Grand Park is bringing back its Lovers Rock event for a fourth year. The free gathering illuminates the park in pink lighting and features an evening of reggae-inspired romantic DJ sets.

This Friday is Valentine’s Day and restaurants and bars are throwing special events and offering themed menus for the day. With the number of bustling nightlife spots, Downtown is always pretty busy on Feb. 14. But instead of sitting down for a romantic meal, there are plenty of unconventional but exciting ways to celebrate the holiday, from picnics in a park to watching muscular, masked mysterious wrestlers brawl. Yes, really.

Los Angeles Downtown News found some of the the best and unique Valentine’s Day happenings in Downtown.

Head to the Park

There are a number of ticketed events but one of the bigger romantic events is actually a free one across the street from Los Angeles City Hall.

Grand Park is bringing back its free Lovers Rock event. From 7-11 p.m. on Feb. 14 the park is setting up music and picnicking opportunities for couples and families. While reggae music plays, the area around the park’s large fountain will be set up for romantic dinners and walks through the green space. It’s the fourth year that Grand Park has staged its Valentine’s Day celebration, and past years have drawn in 300-400 people. Even though this Valentine’s Day falls on a Friday, staff expect a similar turnout.

“It’s a very intimate event, we do it that way on purpose,” said Marty Preciado, program manager with Grand Park.

The event is also open for people to bring their pets, Preciado added.

Preciado said that there are a number of expensive and ticketed events across Downtown and Los Angeles, but that Lovers Rock is one of the few free celebrations, and is all-ages friendly.

There will be food trucks set up at the park, but Grand Park staff are also encouraging Angelenos to bring their own food for picnics on the lawn.

The event’s name and musical theme comes from the type of reggae popularized in 1970s London. The romantic music had its roots in rocksteady, a Jamaican music genre that is considered a precursor to reggae. Preciado said that it also has a strong social justice background, and was tied to movements around black love and self love. She added that it was driven by women-led bands, so the park has a woman, DJ Linafornia, spinning the music all night.

“It was important for us to put a woman as the forefront of the event,” she said. “It is a very romantic style of reggae, but also want to honor its history.”

The DJ stage will be set up near the Grand Avenue entrance to the park, and facing City Hall. Expect to hear a mix of bands, including Gregory Isaacs and other reggae acts, plus newer bands such as The Internet. Although most of the area around Grand Park’s fountain is for people picnicking, there will also be space for couples to dance as well.

Lovers Rock is Friday, Feb. 14 from 7-11 p.m. at Grand Park, 200 N. Grand Ave. or grandparkla.org.

More Fun in the Downtown World

Grand Park isn’t the only space holding a celebration. Here are four other off-the-beaten-path options for Valentine’s Day.

Lucha VaVoom

Feb. 12-13, 8:15 p.m. at the Mayan Theatre

The boisterous luchadors of Lucha VaVoom return to Downtown for two evenings of romance-themed fights. The special “Pin Ups & Pin Downs” show is a kind of slightly debaucherous variety act. Alongside live music from the band Starcrawler, see burlesque from Miss Tosh, pole dancer Brynn Route, and local star Miss Miranda, plus a card of fights with everyone from the Crazy Chickens to the mustachioed menace Joey Ryan. Other wrestlers on the card include Katerina Waters, Willie Mack and more. Nothing says true love like Irish whips and bodyslams.

At 1038 S. Hill St. or luchavavoom.com.

Tease, If You Please

Feb. 14, 8 p.m. At Exchange L.A.

For a less violent but just as spectacular evening of colorful costumes and elaborate physicality, there’s Tease, If You Please. Donna Hood’s long-running burlesque show features acts ranging from aerialists to belly dancers, with “boylesque” as well. The set up inside Spring Street’s Exchange L.A. club gives people an up-close view of the show, be it from the tables or at the upstairs balcony. Given the holiday, expect some special routines. Tickets start at $30.

At 618 S. Spring St. or teaseifyouplease.com.

A Valentine’s Day Australian Wildlife Fundraiser

Feb. 14, 8:30 p.m. at the Bootleg Theater

Valentine’s Day isn’t usually seen as a charitable holiday, but this Friday go help a good cause. The Bootleg Theater is hosting a fundraiser to help wildlife affected the ongoing and massively destructive wildfires in Australia. Proceeds benefit WIRES. The line up is pretty stacked, with Ben Lee, Scout Willis, Charlie Hickey and more. There will also be clothes, arts and craft for sale from local artisans. A $10 donation gets you in the door, so go help animals in need.

At 2220 Beverly Blvd. or bootlegtheater.com.

Village of Love Planned Parenthood of L.A. Benefit

Feb. 14 at 7 p.m. at Teragram Ballroom

Another fundraising concert is happening to the south in City West, with a more local focus. Panache’s annual Valentine’s Day benefit concert donates proceeds to the local Planned Parenthood chapter, and this year’s line up is something of a who’s who of local music stars. Indie rocker Mac DeMarco headlines, with garage rockers Cherry Glazerr also in the line up, plus Soko, Molly Lewis and many more. For fans of surf rock, Reverberation Radio DJs will spin between sets. There’s also a raffle with unspecified “fabulous” prizes available. Tickets start at $35.

At 1234 W. Seventh St. or teragramballroom.com.

nslayton@timespublications.com.