Column: Farewell, Swingers


Photo credit: Grace Wilson

Columnists Grace Wilson and Lauren Evans-Katz are nostalgic for Swingers, a Santa Monica late-night diner that recently closed.

Plaid diner booths, vegan flapjacks and an extensive milkshake selection: this was Swingers Diner. Established in Hollywood, Swingers started swingin’ in 1993. Shifting zip codes, it soon found a second home in Santa Monica.

On August 31, the late-night eatery served its final basket of french fries and ranch dressing. The restaurant, which once inhabited the corner of Broadway and Lincoln Boulevard, has closed, and we are devastated. 

To put it simply, Swingers was not just a diner. At any hour — whether it be 1 p.m. or 3 a.m. — the blue-and-white striped walls housed teenagers and adults alike from across Los Angeles. The diner’s eclectic style, complete with a vibrantly tiled-exterior and pink cow-print wallpaper, came together to form an all-American sanctuary. 

For years, hungry teens from across Los Angeles swarmed the diner. As this mélange of personalities and memories came together, an unparalleled sense of harmony emerged. It was more than a diner; it was a social hub where old friendships were rekindled and new connections flourished.

Swingers meant something different to everyone. 

To some, Swingers was merely a convenient meeting point. The prices were relatively low, the parking wasn’t too difficult to manage and the long hours were advantageous. Not to mention, the broad and inclusive menu made it easy for any party to gather for a meal. There was seldom a Saturday evening where a friend of ours didn’t suggest we all meet at Swingers – it was simply the place to be.  

To others, Swingers Diner held great nostalgic value. The restaurant was a place of tradition and growing up. Swingers is particularly sentimental to those involved in theatre at Archer; after each upper school theatre production, the cast and crew of the show gather around heaps of Swingers’ onion rings and milkshakes as they bonded and reminisced. 

To us, Swingers represented pure adolescent shenanigans. When we think back to our memories at the diner, what comes to mind is nervous first dates and big groups of teens huddled around a cozy booth after a night of Halloween trick-or-treating. At Swingers, it always felt like we were part of an alternate universe devoid of studies and stress where we were allowed to make a lot of noise and laugh until our stomachs hurt.

The era of 2 a.m. milkshakes and random run-ins has come to an end. It is now time to bid a tearful farewell to our beloved diner. Still, even as another business moves into Swingers’ familiar skeleton, the memories and nostalgia housed within the tiled-walls can never be erased. Swingers will forever leave a lasting footprint in our memory, as we too have left our footprints on the corner of Lincoln and Broadway.

Goodbye, Swingers. You’ll keep on swingin’ on in our hearts.