Sanrio, the venerable Japanese institution that introduced us to our beloved feline friend Hello Kitty and her plush pals My Melody, Little Twin Stars, Chococat, Tuxedo Sam, Badtz-Maru, and Keroppi, took over Santa Monica's Barker Hangar in Los Angeles this month, commemorating its 50th anniversary with a 10-day celebratory spree of Hello Kitty sushi-making and cupcake-decorating classes, Hello Kitty Sephora makeup tutorials, and Sanrio-inspired art installations from 50 avant artists. The amazing space offered a cute overload of everything and anything for the discerning Sanrio obsessive: Sanrio-flavored Yogurtland and Beard Papa's treats, old-skool Japanese arcade games, a pop-up shop selling 50th anniversary collectibles, a dress-up photo booth, a scavenger hunt, even a Hello Kitty miniature golf course and Ferris wheel...but it was Saturday nights when the party really got started, when the hangar morphed from a family-friendly kiddy/Kitty park into a Technicolor warehouse rave.
Saturday #1 was the Loungefly-sponsored "I Heart Nerds" party, where guests like the ones pictued above unleashed their inner geeks (masking-taped nerd-spectacles were provided for all) and dorked out to the tinny techno beats of electropop acts 8 Bit Weapon and ComputeHer, who performed their music entirely on vintage Commodore and Apple II computers, Nintendos, toy synthesizers, and ancient video-game consoles like Intellivisions, Ataris, and Speak 'N' Spells. And getting down alongside the horn-rimmed revelers were L.A.'s own Yuki Shundo Dance Crew, who pulled up their kneesocks and suspenders and put on a great geek show.
But Saturday #2, the "Kitty In Pink" retro-'80s prom party, was when the fur really flew. That night, Barker Hangar resembled a lost scene from a classic John Hughes flick--if John Hughes had shot a movie in Tokyo, that is, or maybe on the planet Mars--as Sanrio fans decked out in taffeta and tulle bopped till they dropped to Toni Basil, Billy Idol, and Dexy's Midnight Runners hits by '80s parachute-pants'd cover band the Reaganomics.
The big-haired, big-bowed prom princes and princesses in attendance went all out with their outfits, some of them looking more futuristic than totally '80s--seriously, many of their gowns and getups looked like what Lady Gaga might have worn to her prom--but they were definitely Kitty in pink, indeed.
The festivities ended with a return performance by the Yuki Shundo Dance Crew, who this time ditched the pocket protectors and propeller beanies for legwarmers and bubble skirts. YSDC closed out Sanrio's final L.A. evening of Kitty carousing in retro style, proving that Sanrio is hip no matter what the decade, even after 50 years.
Sanrio's golden-anniversary celebrations continue in Miami next month. For info on all the events, go to http://www.sanrio.com/smallgift.