Descanso Visitors Lounge Lakeside This Summer

The brightly colored deck chairs you would normally expect to see on a cruise ship or poolside didn’t seem at all out of place Wednesday stationed around the lake in the otherwise utterly native Oak Woodland section of Descanso Gardens.
Nor did the eclectic sounds of the jazz, funk, soul, psychedelic Brazilian music, the Beatles and more that wended through the warm summer air at the foot of the San Rafael hills.
Welcome to the Lakeside Lounge, a new Wednesday evening event at Descanso Gardens, where visitors can come late and relax, enjoy a changing menu of craft beers and gourmet picnic fare from Patina as well as the sounds emanating from the turntables piloted by members of the Flashdance DJ crew.
“It feels like summer music,” said Cedar Martyn, for whom Descanso’s later hours made it possible for her to visit after battling traffic from her home in West L.A.
“There’s just the weird dichotomy of nature and a DJ; it’s pretty cool,” said Glendale’s Linda Hean, who was lounging with her daughter Zoe Cole, 16.
“I also think it’s chill,” Cole said.
The impetus for Descanso’s summertime activities — which also include world music between 6 and 7 p.m. Tuesdays and jazz between 6 and 7:30 p.m. Thursdays — is to attract more people to the gardens when the weather is hot and attendance is down.
“We started summer hours because it’s so hot in L.A.,” said Julian Rooke, Descanso’s chief operating officer. “But it seemed like programming was required to get people out to the gardens.”
That programming has been a success in summers past, when more than 1,000 people regularly have shown up to listen to live jazz on the lawn, Rooke said.
“We used to call Wednesdays our ‘quiet night,’ so we said, ‘Why don’t we program it and see if people are interested in coming out,” she said. “Let’s do something completely different and let’s do something in a different part of the garden.”
That different thing is Lakeside Lounge, which was test-driven twice last year to great success. About 800 people showed up to both nights last August — more than have come out so far this year, Rooke said, hypothesizing that June offers more competition in the way of graduations.
Last Wednesday, tables and chairs were still available an hour into the event, but everyone who was there was in fine spirits, including the guys spinning the records.
“We’re just super-happy to be here,” said the Flashdance Crew’s Matthew Rubino, whose idea it was for the team to DJ Descanso. “It’s the atmosphere, the laid-back nature. You can just slow it all down.”

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