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Rachel Levin
Dance and the City
California Dancing
Hip hop
Little Temple

Dance and the City: Love and Theft at the Little Temple

by Rachel Levin
November 24, 2004
Little Temple
4519 Santa Monica Blvd
Cross Street: Virgil Avenue
Los Angeles, CA 90029
(323) 660-4540

Dance and the City: Love and Theft at the Little Temple

Little Temple
4519 Santa Monica Blvd
Los Angeles, CA 90029
Cross Street: Virgil Avenue
Phone: (323) 660-4540

Rachel Levin

The Little Temple in Silverlake is a refuge of dance in an Eastside landscape of rock clubs and hipster bars. Started by the owners of the Temple Bar in Santa Monica, the Little Temple embraces the same spirit of eclectic world music through hip-hop, Latin, dancehall, and rare groove DJs. While the Temple Bar is a mecca for live music, its younger Eastside sister has only just begun to feature live offerings.

Saturday night, my drummer boy and I had our sights set on seeing Nikka Costa, an R&B/rock singer with a touch of funk flair, at the Little Temple. It was a rainy night, and we figured that the foul weather would probably keep most Angelenos indoors. We rolled over to the club on the late side, expecting we'd have no problem parking and getting in to catch the latter half of Nikka's set.

Our rain theory proved wrong; the valet lot was completely full and no street spots were immediately to be had. Around and around the block we went: the ritualistic dance one must engage in to appeal to the L.A. parking gods. Finally the gods smiled upon us, and we found the last remaining stretch of empty curb tucked away in the surrounding residential neighborhood.

Feeling triumphant, we enjoyed the walk to the club in the crisp night air. But our victory mood faded when we arrived into a room so crowded that Nikka couldn't even be seen. To add to the disappointment, our parking expedition had taken so long that Nikka was announcing it was her last song of the night.

My date wanted to just get our money back and leave, but I lobbied to stay. I knew that once Nikka wrapped her set, the dancing would get going with two DJs, one of whom is Saturday night fixture Garth Trinidad, the former host of KCRW's "Chocolate City." After investing all that effort to park, I figured we should at least make the most of things and get our dancing fix. He decided to indulge my dance desires and agreed to stay.

The crowd was thick, and we soon discovered that despite the quality of the tunes, the Little Temple is actually not the best place to dance freely. Everywhere you stand, you manage to be in someone's path, whether they're on their way to the bar, the low couches lining the wall, or the other half of the club. Still, the deep dancehall groove made at least attempting to dance irresistible.

My date and I pressed close to create our own private dance space. With our eyes closed and foreheads touching, I became aware of how connected I'm starting to feel to this new person. Give us a square foot patch of our own, and the rest of the world can just melt away.

Yet as I felt the intensity of our closeness, I had the momentary impulse to pull back and dance independently. We're nearing the point, it seems, when we'll want to reserve our "dance cards" for each other exclusively. But there is still a hint of doubt and danger—if I give this person my heart, will he keep it safe? As soon as I pulled away, though, I immediately wanted to be close again. We make such a merry party for two.

On the walk back to the car, I felt pretty jolly, happy to have salvaged some festivity from the evening. I snuggled up to my drummer boy for warmth under a shared umbrella. The rain stopped completely just as we reached the car.

And that's when we spotted it: the rubble of glass littering the sidewalk. The gaping emptiness where the window should be.

We'd been robbed.

While we had been happily bumping and grinding at the Little Temple, the thieves had smashed the passenger side window and taken everything they could find. All that was left of the stereo were bare wires. His knapsack of valuables: gone. My own set of keys: nowhere to be found.

Of course this is just a reflection of life in the city. There is a randomness to such crime that defies explanation. It can happen whether you're in Compton or Beverly Hills. But regardless of the haphazard nature of theft, all the "what ifs" creep into your mind nevertheless. What if we hadn't parked here? What if we had left the club immediately instead of staying to dance? What if we hadn't left anything in the car to steal?

Those feelings about the precariousness of love that I had felt on the dance floor came rushing back. What if I'm not protecting myself well enough? Our hearts certainly don't come with anti-theft systems (even if they did, we probably wouldn't pay attention to the alarm). It's hard at the beginning of a new relationship not to worry that somehow your heart may be stolen, leaving the emotional vessels dangling like so many severed, exposed wires.

But the truth is you just can't know when and if such a thief—of your heart, of radios, or otherwise—will strike. You can't live your life that way. The best thing you can do is steal moments of happiness whenever you can.

So my drummer boy and I made the best of it. We embraced and laughed at the irony of having to unlock a door that was now windowless. There was nothing to be done but drive home, have a glass of wine, and just be grateful that—if nothing else—radios are replaceable.

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