Monday, July 25, 2016

Mayan Theater

Mayan Theater exterior
The mid-1920s was a golden age for L.A. theaters. Every movie house was designed to be more ornate than the one before, often emulating a particular historical period or architectural style. The most famous theaters, like the Chinese and Egyptian, were especially exotic and magnificent. Less well-known, but certainly exotic in its own way, was the Mayan, a musical theater venue, built in 1927 to resemble a pre-Columbian Mexican temple. Tim and I got to tour it, last weekend, as members of the Los Angeles Historic Theatre Foundation.

Located a few blocks southwest of downtown L.A.'s once-flourishing theater district, the Mayan is a hidden gem, covered in a concrete facade of faux Mexican design that continues inside as well. Smaller than many of L.A.'s more elaborate theaters, the Mayan nonetheless has the deepest stage (38 feet) since it was built as a live-performance venue rather than a movie house. Today, the Mayan is a nightclub.

Exterior (detail)

Overhang above the entrance


Even the floor continues the theme

The lobby

Chandelier (detail)

Lobby wall (detail)

Bar (lamp added later)

Decorative design

Inside main theater

More ornamentation

View of the stage from the balcony (click on image to enlarge)

The stage

Stagehand notes on wall since 1927 (click on image to enlarge)

Interior stage curtains

Stage ornamentation (detail)

View from the side stage

View from the main stage

Reproduction of early Mayan poster


Suzanne said...

WOW, another place to add to our list to visit when we return to L A. I had never heard of this theater before.

Cyn said...

We've known about the Mayan for years, but never went there because it's a nightclub. Then I saw a TV special (?) filmed there, featuring Sting singing (see YouTube video at, a couple of years ago, and became more interested in seeing inside. As far as I know, it's not just some place that one can visit. You'd have to go to the nightclub to see the interior. But, of course, you could always view the exterior during the day, though it's a lot more dramatic at night.