The Go Go: Where to Honor the Dead in Los Angeles

Bringing fire to the dead,
Bringing fire to the dead at Hollywood Forever.

Go Go’ers, perhaps you already have regular, Ouija board talks with your gone-too-soon Cousin Benny or hazy visions of your former Pekingese “Cuddles”, teeth bared as he faces down flies.

Not to mention the occasional Elvis sighting.

But for maximum communion with Those Who Have Gone Before, the veil between the living and dead thins considerably come Thursday with Hallowmas: All Hallows’ Eve, All Saints’ Day, and All Souls’ Day.

So paint your face, grab some marigolds, and head to one of the following  Dia de los Muertos celebrations.

Don’t forget the spirits for the spirits.

A couple shots of mezcal for dearly departed Aunt Emily and she may finally “reveal” where the gold bullion is buried.

Acres of Ofrendas

Have a lot of late loved ones to honor?  Feeling the need for extra devotion to the dead? Head to Grand Park Downtown Dia de Los Muertos where 40 ofrendas (“offerings”) will be on display all week.

In the pink for Day of the Dead.
In the pink for Day of the Dead.

The altars were created by local artists, community based organizations, and social justice movements with the assistance of Master Altar Maker Ofelia Esparza and Self-Help Graphics, which celebrates 40 years of honoring loved ones.

Not one of the lucky 40?  Not to worry; everyone is invited to participate in the community altar on the Performance Lawn between Grand and Hill so your spirit relatives won’t feel slighted.

The week culminates on Saturday with a FREE Dia de los Muertos bash featuring music, food trucks, free face painting, and a “History and Traditions Zone”, where you can learn about origins of Dia de los Muertos and ceremonial music and dance.

There’s also a full bar in case you and the ancestors want to share a martini.

Who knows the quality of gin in the afterlife?

GRAND PARK DOWNTOWN DIA DE LOS MUERTOSSat, Nov 2nd, 3-11pm; FREE/all agesGrand Park, 200 No Grand Ave, DTLA 90012. For details including street closures, go to:

Self Help Graphics
Self Help Graphics does Dia de los Muertos right.

40 Years of Living with the Dead

It’s hard to believe ’cause they look so good but Self-Help Graphics, East L.A.’s iconic neighborhood art home, is celebrating their 40th Dia de los Muertos.

Go Go’ers, that’s a lot of papel picado and sugar skulls.

Expect a traditional ceremonial blessing and two, traditional processions: one from Grand Park (see above) at 4:00 p.m. and one from Mariachi Plaza at 5:00 p.m.

There will be plenty of music, including Grammy Award-winning Quetzal headlining, and lots of art; Daniel Gonzalez curates the group exhibition Raiz y Rama: On the Crossroads to Mictlán, which is kind of the Aztec equivalent of a roundabout to Heaven.

Of course, calaca attire is encouraged.

In Ms. Go Go’s opinion, any event requiring a skeleton costume and a giant hat is a must-attend.

40TH ANNUAL DIA DE LOS MUERTOS CELEBRATION — Sat, Nov 2, 5 – 11pm.  All ages/FREE — Self-Help Graphics, 1300 E 1st St, Boyle Heights 90033

Rattle the bones at Cinco....
Calacas at Cinco: rattle the bones….

Food for the Living/Altar for the Dead

The dead may not need nourishment (except in the spiritual sense) but the living sure do.

Enter Cinco, a Oaxacan-themed resto in Westchester/Playa del Rey that will honor the dead with an all-week, traditional Oaxacan altar and keep the warm-blooded alive and kicking with food/drink specials and face-painting on Friday through Sunday and live Mariachi bands on Saturday.

About those specials: sample mole in a variety of dishes from Tacos de Pollo con Mole Negro (2 for $8), Enchiladas de Pollo con Mole with rice and beans ($13), Pollo con Mole Negro with rice and beans ($14), and Mole Memelas ($10); the latter is a flat masa cake covered with toppings.

Meanwhile, bring photos and sweets for the altar and toast your abuelita with Mezcal Margaritas ($7), House Tequila Margaritas ($6), and “The Guerrero” – 1 Indio Beer + Shot of Mezcal ($8).

Save some suds for granny as it’s believed the returning spirits work up quite a thirst.

Especially after she kicks up her heels to those Mariachis.

DIA DE LOS MUERTOS AT CINCOFri, Nov 1 – Sun, Nov 3 —  Cinco, 7241 W Manchester, LA 90045 310.910.0895

Waking up the dead at Hollywood Forever.
Waking up the dead at Hollywood Forever.

Fever Dream Creatures for the Dead

If you think the dead deserve the biggest bash this side of Mexcio, you’ll want to take your painted self to Dia de Los Muertos at Hollywood Forever: the only cemetery in the nation that celebrates the dead in the Aztec tradition.

And what a celebration; the twelve-hour event features 100 altars, a procession, Aztec and Mayan rituals, an art exhibition in the Cathedral Mausoleum, Mexican cuisine, three performance stages with the legendary Saul Hernandez, formerly of bands Califanes and Jaguares, as headliner, and a calaca costume contest with a prize of $500.

This year’s theme — The Magical World of Alebrijes — adds an additional element of the fantastic; in the 1930’s, Mexico City resident Pedro Linares was unconscious with a high fever and dreamed of visiting a strange land populated by wild, colorful creatures he named alebrijes. When he awoke, he began recreating the dream denizens as wood and paper mache sculptures.

Strange creatures?  You’re happy to come out and dance with the dead.

DIA DE LOS MUERTOS AT HOLLYWOOD FOREVERSun, Nov 2, noon – midnight; $15 GA; under 8 and 65+ are free before 4pm — Hollywood Forever, 6000 Santa Monica Blvd, LA 90038

Ready?  U Know U Want 2 Go Go….

Cinco's Dia de los Muertos special: Chicken Mole Plato
Cinco’s Dia de los Muertos special: Chicken Mole Plato

2 Comments Add yours

  1. Just Me says:

    Olvera Street also has a celebration that’s 9 days long. It runs from October 25-November 2, and they have a nightly Novenario procession – something that Olvera Street did first here in LA.

    1. Thanks, Just Me! What a wonderful addition to the list of Dia de los Muertos celebrations in Los Angeles.

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