The afterparty @ the LA Auto Show
This story starts with Girl w/Glasses. Her age is a mystery, I daren't ask, but she looks on the right side of 30, I recognize the burning energy of a 20-year old and the laid back attitude of a 40-year old. She's tall and slender. The kind of person who could eat three meals and still be hungry afterwards. She's had three sliders in 5 seconds. Then she looks at me and says, "I've seen you somewhere." She has, no doubt. I know that because I also remember her face and I just don't remember where or when. And neither does she. We're at the Hotel Figueroa in Downtown Los Angeles. This is the traditional Hyundai afterparty, usually held on the last day of Automobility LA, the press days of the LA Auto Show.
After 10 minutes of failing to work out when and where we might have met before, she ate two more sliders, she starts telling me about her job. Girl w/Glasses is a print journalist and radio broadcaster, and she's been coming to the show for 10 years. This is my second time. She starts telling me all she knows about the show, things I already knew and things I never imagined.
It began in 1907 as a show for dealers and manufacturers and it has, like most car shows, evolved during the years, trying to keep pace and adapt with the modern motoring world. It has changed location several times, it is now held at the Convention Center at LA Live, and in 2006, it was moved from early January to late November-early December. Since 2013, the LA Auto Show is preceded by something called Automobility LA, which is essentially a press preview of the show with collateral events and dedicated panels. In 2018, for example, Automobility LA (media days) was held from Nov 26 to Nov 29 and the LA Auto Show (public days) was held from Nov 30 to Dec 9. Automobility LA is essentially a technology and car-themed networking event and it is special. At least to me.
On the last day of Automobility LA, Hyundai and Genesis hold press conferences to introduce their latest model and, right after the presentation is over, they announce the location and time for the Hyundai afterparty. The first time I went, in 2017, I was curious. The second time, in 2018, I was positively thrilled and I couldn't wait. Girl w/Glasses said, "Oh yes, this is a tradition. They do it every year and it's awesome."
The Hotel Figueroa is a bit of institution of DTLA (Downtown LA). It was opened in 1926 by the YWCA as a safe haven for solo female travelers, because back then many hotels wouldn't allow women to check in on their own. In fact, the hotel only became available to men in 1928. It was purchased by a company called "Green Oak Real Estate and Urban Lifestyle Hotels" in 2014 and reopened in early 2018.
There's a giant queue of media people proudly holding their media badge (they don't need it, there's a special bracelet for that) and people who are just trying to crash a party. I'm patiently waiting for my turn to enter the venue but after a relatively short wait I'm waved through by an enormous bouncer, easily over 7-foot tall and 250 pounds. And I'm 5'9''.
There's a poolside veranda with Moroccan style chandelier and Colonial style armchairs, there are palm trees and vimini chairs. I feel like I accidentally walked into the set of a music video featuring both Pitbull and French Montana. The pool outside is shaped like a coffin, you don't actually realize this until you Google the hotel and look at some some aerial pictures, and the decor is a festival of white marble and white stone but are also cacti and big-leaved perennials. There's a million different styles in here but somehow it all works. And what really, really make it work is the setting. Some of the skyscrapers and buildings of Downtown LA are shining all around us.
I meet Girl w/Glasses at the second bar I try, the first one was the veranda and the second one is past the pool. She's eating slider after slider and sipping on something that might be anything from lemonade to G & T.
I know exactly what I'm about to say and I know what it sounds like but I have to say it. This is by far the best I've ever felt at any part, like ever.
I'm looking forward to Automobility LA 2019 more than I've looked forward to anything car-related in a while. And I'm looking forward to meeting Girl w/Glasses again and I know that, if nothing else, I can have a picture taken with a mermaid, like the one I've used as a header, because according to the people who've been doing this for much, much longer than I have, that's also a tradition.