Sally Shore sprawled on a couch at The Hesby, exhausted from her hours-long crawl through the North Hollywood Arts District.
Yet Shore wasn't hung over from alcohol, she was flushed and spent from imbibing the buzz of Los Angeles' first Lit Crawl, which attracted more than 2,000 people Wednesday for a night of rapid-fire poetry slams, “trans-media” readings and theatrical performances by L.A.'s burgeoning literary community.
All in all, it was 23 literary events at 12 locations, the first local iteration of an event that started in San Francisco in 2004 and expanded to Austin, Brooklyn, Manhattan, London, Iowa City and Seattle.
“I had no idea it was going to get so big so fast, but it speaks to the soul desire of the community,” said Shore, project director of Lit Crawl L.A.
North Hollywood resident Josh Mitchell, beer in hand, called this highbrow crawl “a tangible version of social media,” one that provides a lively way for people of similar passions to converge.
City crawls are here to stay, and though the libations fuel the festivities, they bring revenue and revelry to communities always looking for both.
And for most, the theme is the thing. As L.A. poet Brendan Constantine joked, Lit Crawlers weren't exactly barfing up words in an alley, but many went home “wreaking of subtext.”
Last year, Los Feliz welcomed the first L.A. Dishcrawl, which took a group of frenzied foodies on a trek of restaurants that remained secret till the last moment. An eat-and-meet of sorts, Dishcrawls — which started in San Jose in 2010 — have now been hosted in Pomona, Culver City and Long Beach, with more to come.
In April, Chinatown hosted the first Dim Sum Crawl to highlight its traditional ethnic brunch bites. And to kick off summer, the Venice Music Crawl showed off local talent with the goal of re-energizing the Westside music scene.
With the holiday season coming, watch for everything from the Long Beach Zombie Walk on Saturday to Santas straggling along the 3rd Street Promenade during the fifth annual SANTA Monica Pub Crawl on Dec. 14, which promises to ring in the season with the “absolute best time you can have on concrete under palm trees.”
“Sure, we gather on the Internet on Facebook and chat on our cell phones, but it doesn't eliminate our need to gather with people,” Shore said. “These events have become more popular because of these shared interests and that need to have a social experience with like-minded people.”
On Saturday, gastronomic geeks will unite for the second annual Bon Appétit Grub Crawl, which will sample two of L.A.'s up-and-coming culinary centers: Abbott Kinney Boulevard in Venice — noon-5 p.m. — and downtown L.A. — 6-11 p.m.
“You couldn't have done this in these areas a few years back, but downtown is now a no-brainer. It says a lot about Los Angeles,” said Andrew Knowlton, an editor for the epicurean magazine. “Thankfully, more American cities are getting into that walking culture, which I think is really spurring the popularity of these crawls.”
Gregg Hurwitz, a bestselling crime author and comic-book writer, agrees. “There's this great sort of hipster-y cultural movement right now that seems really prime for this,” he said.
Jason Kuska, owner of Nasstive Entertainment, which has been running the Hollywood Club Crawl since 2009, said his events draw more locals than tourists.
For poet Constantine, anything that makes the L.A. megalopolis bit smaller is a good thing. “We can't do anything about the mileage. We can't bring Culver City closer to Sherman Oaks, but with events like these, we can get people from those cities talking and playing in each other's yards.”