Cloudy early, becoming mostly sunny this afternoon. High near 85F. Winds S at 5 to 10 mph..
A few passing clouds. Low 64F. Winds SSE at 5 to 10 mph.
Updated: August 21, 2022 @ 6:36 am
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Boyle Heighs — Arena was jammed on New Year’s Eve 2015, the final night for the Hollywood nightclub. Abel Alvarado, who began to visit the club as a young gay man, was part of the crowd that came for a final evening of throbbing house music — and for the memories.
“I walked around and realized that Arena was the first gay club I had been to and that I had spent a lot of my young life there,” said Alvarado. “The amount of people I met there, hearing the thousands of stories of others reminiscing of their first time there, it felt like the end of an era.”
That evening inspired Alvarado to write a tribute to Arena, which became a sanctuary and a place for a generation to embrace their queer Chicano culture. The Santa Monica Boulevard club and its sister disco, Circus, were torn down for a housing development.
Arena: A house MUSIC-al at Casa 0101 Theater in Boyle Heights is an artistic time capsule. It’s meant to preserve and honor the memory of Arena and the culture that thrived within its walls. 
The musical tells the story of Lucio Torrez, a church music minister who is in a closeted relationship with the guitar player.
Alvarado, who visited the club regularly for over 25 years, said Arena was a go-to hangout spot for nearly half of his life.
The artist relives moments he was surrounded by people from his own culture — even from the same neighborhood. For Alvarado, Arena was the first place he heard a DJ shout, “Where are all the Latinos in the house tonight?” before the place erupted in spirited roars.
“That in itself gave me so much strength as a young Brown Chicano gay man,” said Alvarado. “You didn’t get that anywhere else. These places were created to celebrate la comunidad.”
“Arena: A house MUSIC-al,” is intended for ages 17 and older and closes on July 31. Tickets can be purchased at the door or online.
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