From burlesque shows to cowboy clubs, there is always something new and different to explore in the Los Angeles bar scene. However, thanks to a growing group of friendly Los Angelinos, there is a new type of guest that can join you during happy hour: ghosts.
Who came up with the idea to combine creepy with cocktails? They call themselves The Ghost Hunters of Urban Los Angeles or GHOULA. GHOULA is a local group that gets together to discuss topics that relate to haunted places, ghost sightings and Los Angeles historical landmarks. According to their mission, they are “dedicated to the preservation of greater L.A.'s rich haunted history, and the promotion and celebration of this local lore through ghostly gatherings, events and publications.”
Their president and founder, Richard Carradine has investigated ghosts throughout the United States and the world, including countries such as Austria, The Czech Republic and Slovenia. Though he has explored these countries, his specialty is the California area where he has investigated over 200 haunted locations, including all 23 missions. Carradine organizes GHOULA’s most popular and recognizable event, called “Spirits with Spirits,” which helped the group win a spot on LA Weekly’s “Best of LA” list for 2010 as the “Best Host to Toast a Ghost.”
The “Spirits with Spirits” event is one that every Angelino should try at least once. On the 13th day of every month, GHOULA encourages the Los Angeles community to join them at a haunted location for cocktails, conversation and a chance to see something spooky. For instance, one of the events was hosted at the Hamburger Hamlet on Sunset Boulevard before it closed down in December 2011. This establishment had been known as a local haunt for film directors, actors and studio executives since the chain originated in 1950. However, GHOULA tells how the place was a haunt of a different kind.
GHOULA’s reasoning for choosing this location for their “Spirits with Spirits” event included accounts from employees, who claimed to hear clanking noises coming from the kitchen in the later hours of the night. When those employees went to observe the source of the cacophony, no one was there. The historical context, fancy bar and stories of being infected by spirits from the other side made the Hamburger Hamlet a perfect place to host the November “Spirits with Spirits” event.
One might expect the members of a ghost-hunting club to be wearing body suits with paranormal energy detectors similar to the ones in the Ghostbuster movies. However, the members of the group blended in with the non-ghost hunters. They wear normal clothes, drink regular cocktails, and eat ordinary food. The only visual way to separate them from the crowd of other diners in the restaurant was by noticing their official glow-in-the-dark GHOULA pins, which include a skull with an overlaid map of Los Angeles.
According to Carradine, the pins are necessary because the group needs a discreet way to identify themselves from others. Carradine explains that many establishments do not like to promote their affiliations with the paranormal, in fear of losing those customers who still find it hard to sleep after watching that demented little girl crawl out of a television in the 2002 blockbuster The Ring. GHOULA stresses that new members should avoid asking waitresses or staff members where the ghost hunters are sitting, because some restaurants do not like having them there.
At the event, the members of the group discussed the history of the location and pondered who was haunting it today. Though they did not get to witness any paranormal occurrences that night, they did enjoy gathering and embracing the historical significance of a restaurant that would soon close down.
GHOULA’s next event is this Friday the 13th, and will be hosted downtown at the One-Eyed Gypsy. GHOULA explains a multitude of reasons why this place allows the paranormal to prosper, but the most convincing story regards a 26-year-old waitress who worked there and committed suicide a few blocks from the location in 1902. Could it be true that this female lingers at the One-Eyed Gypsy to this day, or are the employees just sneaking down too many shots of vodka throughout the evening? GHOULA is going there to find the answers to their questions, and you can join them if you have the guts.
To find out more about GHOULA and their upcoming (free) events, visit ghoula.org.