Spiriting away the hootch at Grand Performances

Written by
The vodka blimp floats by California Plaza just after the bad news was delivered

What’s the difference between a guy sitting on a street corner drinking a beer, and ladies serenely sipping blush while listening to summer music at an outdoor venue?

Well, as it turns out, nothing.  Which is why, for the first time in its 26 year history, the audience at free series-sandwiched-among-office towers, Grand Performances, has been warned: Put away the hootch, or you’ll get busted.

To punctuate that admonishment, stern patrol officers from the downtown Business Improvement District fanned out among the packed California Plaza earlier this month, where throngs had gathered to hear the divine Nitin Sawhney.  (Side note: If you missed it, you can hear him in-studio at KCRW, where he gave an intimate but no less thrilling set.)

“What’s in that cup?” they asked, as audience members stiffened up defensively.  The message was clear: We said no alcohol; don’t think concealing it is a solution.

On a recent weekend there were wine bottles out in the open again, though the warning was re-issued before the shows.

Executive Director Michael Alexander wants to follow the rules, but he made it clear he doesn’t want his series to be dry forever:

“We have to do the right thing legally and are working to secure the licenses necessary so we can offer people the opportunity to act – as they have for years – as responsible audience members who enjoy a glass of wine or a beer without causing any of us reason to worry about the safety of our audience.”

If you’re headed to the opening of Grand Park this weekend and planning to take a picnic, be mindful that public drinking (even not of the street corner variety) is on the minds of law enforcement.

What say you:  Should public drinking in these kinds of genteel settings be allowed?