Last night - the unveiling of the new Los Angeles Theater Center - aka the New LATC - was straight out of the 1980's. A particular night in 1985 when a number of people who were also there tonight, including myself, gathered to celebrate the opening of a new theater complex that was joined on Spring Street by a restaurant, a nightclub and a condo project; an old office building turned into apartment style condos. The beginning of the rebirth of a new Downtown Los Angeles.
But a few years later - it was all over.
Of course, this time is different. First the artists came back (not that they ever really left, of course), then real loft conversions and bootstrap art galleries and then... everyone else. Thousands and thousands of everyones.
This time the boom is real. It's different than the last one. But then, of course, every boom is always different than the last one.
The biggest difference, though, this time is how broad based this boom is and how - unlike the last one - this one is almost totally financed by private investors and market forces rather than by government grants and subsidies. That's also why this boom is so much more successful.
Which is what brings us to Nokia - a market driven, for profit venue that is a great attraction for Downtown, but which is also just one of many places where groups such as the Eagles and the Dixie Chicks can play in Los Angeles.
By contrast, the Los Angeles Theater Center has, up until now, been financed almost 100% by public funds but it will be a place local theater groups can perform, a place where national and international theater companies that Angelinos would not otherwise see will perform. It also has numerous resident companies and partners such as the Latino Theater Company, Playwright's Arena, the Robey Theater Company, Cedar Grove OnStage, UCLA, the American Indian Dance Theater and Culture Clash - and it will also nurture local playwrights and provide a strong educational program starting next summer.
In the long run, the success of Downtown Los Angeles will depend far more on the success of institutions such as the Los Angeles Theater Center, than Nokia, which is why I am so surprised how this far more important re-opening has been so comparatively ignored.
But history has also taught us that the cost of supporting the LATC, will be a substantial one - and the city has said that no further subsidies will be provided. So if the people of this city want to have a future that includes the Los Angeles Theater Center, they are going to have to support it.
This time, it has to be different.