After yet another conversation commiserating about the L.A. dating scene, co-workers Rita Soultanian and Emily Harris decided to stop talking about it – and take action instead. Their solution to changing the repetitive conversation about meeting a romantic partner in L.A. was to create a “Climb L.A.’s Secret Stairs” group. Using the book Secret Stairs: A Walking Guide to the Historic Staircases of Los Angeles by Charles Fleming as a guide, the group hikes a different staircase each week.
Climb L.A.’s Secret Stairs has a threefold purpose. One, the group aims to create a community for singles to meet and socialize. Two, the weekly walks get participants exercising outside. Three, the staircases are a portal for discovering the rich history of L.A.
Soultanian and Harris have both lived in the L.A. area for most of their lives. Walking the historic staircases of L.A. is a way for them to rediscover the city. Soultanian shares, “There are so many things about L.A. that are not cliché. Knowing the history of L.A. makes you feel connected to the city in a deeper way. It forces you to slow down, and in a way, the city is reborn.”
The staircases are hidden gems. They offer a way to appreciate the different neighborhoods, the unique architecture, and fascinating history of L.A. Most of the staircases are in the eastside neighborhoods, particularly Hollywood, Silverlake, and Echo Park. During the weekly walks, Soultanian and Harris will point out quirky facts and historic landmarks garnered from the book. However, they point out that it’s not a formal tour. “Our goal is to keep things casual and fun,” Harris says.
As for the nature of a group aimed at singles, Soultanian and Harris both spoke to the difficulty of meeting single people in L.A. “We’d both like to meet people with common interests. Single people have a different commitment to getting out and exploring the city, and freedom with their schedules that couples often don’t have,” Harris explains. Though the current group gender ratio is skewed female, they hope to have equal gender participation in the future, and encourage people of all sexual identities to join them.
“Our goal is to cultivate this community of secret staircase walkers. We’d like people to bring their friends and have this group grow by word of mouth,” says Soultanian.
You can find more information about the group and RSVP for upcoming events on their Facebook page. The next walk is the Music Book Loop scheduled for Sunday, March 3.
Ana Ottman is a freelance writer (of marketing copy, short stories, and bad poetry). After making her way to Los Angeles by way of Austin and Washington, D.C., she finally understands this Hugh Laurie quote: “I do actually like Los Angeles. Partly because I was told I wouldn’t.” Ana has an unhealthy obsession with avocados and lives in a small apartment at the top of a hill in Echo Park.
Edited photos by Julie Mack; extra photos courtesy of their Facebook.