Valentine’s Day 2017: You Oughta Know

Those who normally sit shiva on Valentine's Day, have a place to go to sing Alanis Morrisette. Photo: Michael Darling

Those who normally sit shiva on Valentine’s Day, instead have a place to go to sing about love lost and retribution a la Alanis Morissette.                                 Photo: Michael Darling/Los Feliz Ledger.

(FRANKLIN VILLAGE) Valentine’s Day is a holiday that you either love or hate.

For nearly a quarter century, the East Hollywood/Los Feliz restaurant Birds has proudly stood with the “Hate it!” crowd.

While most restaurants promoted, this year and every year, special menus that are allegedly romantic and definitely expensive, Birds throws a raucous party, every February 14th, for the heartbroken, the inadvertently single and those that consider Valentine’s Day nothing more than a Hallmark holiday.

Birds’ tradition began early in the restaurant’s life.

According to co-owner Mary Preston, when the eatery first opened in 1993 they attempted to host a tradition Valentine’s Day dinner, “but it fell flat, like a lead balloon,” she said.

So, the following year the Birds team rethought the Valentine’s Day plan and decided to play to their customer base namely hip single creative types in their 20s and 30s.

After commiserating with single members of the staff about their hated of Valentine’s Day, a new idea was quickly, and smartly, hatched.

According to Preston, she recalled seeing anti-Valentine’s Day celebrations in New York’s gay discos in the early 1980s and decided to bring that idea out west to Los Angeles.

“The second year, I started anti-Valentine’s and it just went off like crazy,” she said.

Taking Birds’ lead, other bars in Hollywood have since started anti-Valentine’s parties. But Birds’ still maintains a unique anarchic charm.

For instance, their party is sound-tracked by a decades spanning playlist of songs about breaking up, getting back at old flames and looking for love in all the wrong places.

During yesterday’s festivities, Kanye West’s “Gold Digger,” the Everly Brothers’ “Bye Bye Love” and multiple tracks from Beyonce’s Lemonade played.

Early on during yesterday Valentine’s 2017, every woman sitting at the bar spontaneously began singing along to Alanis Morisette’s iconically vengeful “You Oughta Know” which set the tone for later restaurant-wide singalongs.

Like any good party, there were plenty of fun and games as guests were encouraged to pay tribute to their exes using piñatas and voodoo dolls.

Last night, around 9:00 p.m., Preston emerged behind the bar with a marshmallow shooter and invited the heartbroken in attendance to take shots at two heart-shaped piñatas as well as one resembling President Donald Trump, labeled “Not my Valentine.”

Throughout the night, guests were told to place the names of ex-lovers who had treated them wrong on pieces of paper and attach them to a giant voodoo doll at the front of the restaurant. Late in the evening, Preston took a butcher knife to the voodoo doll while mocking it for all the bad things it had done to the jilted lovers in the crowd.

Participants also got to share their all-time worst break-up stories.

According to Preston the worst she’s ever heard came two years ago when a woman shared the story of how she was invited out to lunch by her fiancé’s mother, who broke off the engagement on her son’s behalf. “People were howling in empathy with her,” she said.

At this year’s celebration, break-up stories included a woman who tried to end things with her boyfriend—who was too drunk to realize he was being dumped—and a woman who was seeing a guy who went on The Bachelorette and won.

However, the winner was a woman, identified only as “Kelly F. ” who said she dumped her boyfriend after he said he wanted to see other people.

She said she was OK with that part, except her boyfriend suggested it while they were in flagrante delicto!

Poor Kelly received a gift certificate to Birds for her troubles.

According to Preston the Birds event is a “tongue in cheek group therapy for the lovelorn. They come in sort of sad and leave feeling good at the prospects of love.”

For some the “therapy” was much needed.

“I came here for brunch one day and I saw they were hosting an anti-Valentine’s Day party. My boyfriend had just cheated on me, so I had to come,” said Ava Lopez.

Funnily enough, Birds’ mockery of Saint Valentine has inspired new love.

“Someone got engaged once during Anti-Valentine’s Day,” said bartender Jon Navelle, a veteran of four Birds’ anti-Valentine’s Day parties. “He proposed to her because they met here. They had been joking about how trashy it would be to get engaged at Birds. So, he says to her ‘Let’s get trashy’ and then got down on one knee.”


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