Something fucking awesome happened in Cincinnati on July's Final Friday. A dude with a card table, some DJ stuff and a microphone (two turntables and a microphone, even) incited a random dance party with over 100 people around 1212 Main Street in Over-the-Rhine.
Music was pumping, and people flocked to it. I have never witnessed such an amassing of complete strangers and intimate friends. Plaid-clad hipsters were cutting loose with older, baggy-shirted locals. Drunk people who had tumbled out of bars were sweating out all the alcohol they had just paid for to Kool and the Gang. Everyone was incredibly, stupidly happy.
There was no reason for it. No social networking was involved. Nobody knew about it through a text or because they were Tweeted at or received a Facebook invite. It wasn’t sponsored by Final Friday, and it wasn’t even planned. DJ Alcatone, the awesome instigator, shrugged his shoulders when I asked him (over the Funk blaring out from two speakers), why he was playing music on a street corner in OTR. He said he just was. And people were just dancing.
There were three guys dancing in the middle of the damn street, stopping cars to gyrate in front of them. One was dancing intensely, and then he paused and directed traffic around other dancers. An SUV pulled up and four dudes sat on the edge of the car windows, took their shirts off, and held their arms in the air.
An entire two-block span of Main Street was filled with sweaty, writhing people. DJ Alcatone started a soul train in the middle of the crowd. There was a break-dancing competition, and seriously, who knew old people could get down like that? One guy did that thing where he contorted his whole body in the air, resting solely on his hand on the ground. (Yoga has not prepared me to attempt this.)
Cell phones crowded in the air, everyone snapping pictures of the “something” that was happening right in front of them. Cops drove by and didn’t stop. The opposite side of the street was crowded with overflow dancers. A girl with an “I’m the bachelorette!” sash across her torso sashayed in front of cars, darting back and forth between the two sides. There was even a man with a broken leg in a wheelchair. Seriously. He was spinning on his wheels, grooving to the music.
It was like someone had pressed pause on every social, racial and economic stricture and preconception, and hit “play” for uninhibited, good-spirited, uplifting interaction. It was so simple, and no one stopped to think about it. No one stopped to consider “what it meant,” or why it was happening, or how it could be better. Honestly, it couldn’t have been better.
The police were called about two hours in, and were actually smiling when they told everyone the party had to end. That was probably the best time to have the party end — before everyone remembered themselves, the faces we all put on for the everyday world, the way we conduct ourselves around people we want to impress. No one was trying to impress anyone. Even the bad dancers (there were a few) were applauded. It was the fact that everyone involved stepped outside of themselves, without any catalyst or promise of reward, and for two hours, we just were.
It's Final Friday! The best day of the month for sauntering through Over-the-Rhine, perusing local art and sipping on some vino. One of many gallery openings takes place at the Art Academy of Cincinnati from 5-8 p.m. In Context is a thesis exhibition for art teachers working towards their Masters of Arts in Art Education.
Tonight marks O'Bryonville's first Third Thursday Benefit Wine Walk of the year. Support the neighborhood's independent businesses like Hemptations, Phyllis Weston Gallery, Ten Thousand Villages, The Bonbonerie, indigenous and many more as you hop from spot to spot, enjoying complimentary wine and bites at each participating venue. This month's walk benefits Pets in Need (a UCAN affiliate) and Cincinnati Pet Food Pantry. The event runs from 5-8 p.m. tonight.
Enjoy a romantic night in Paris...without needing a passport. Art Design Consultants presents en evening with their Design Star, Grace Jones of Dwellings on Madison. Jones will transform the ADC loft space (310 Culvert St., Downtown) into a French apartment. Stop by at 6 for cocktails and stick around for the 7 p.m. unveiling of Jones' designs. Holly Golightly attire is encouraged! RSVP here.
Comedian Jim Norton kicks off his three-night gig at Funny Bone on the Levee tonight. Specializing in dark comedy and self-deprecation, the comic has also acted in television and film and has written two humorous nonfiction books. Many will recognize Norton from the Opie & Anthony radio show, Louie, The Tonight Show with Jay Leno and several small, odd film roles (two words: Furry Vengeance). Norton goes on tonight at 8 p.m. Tickets are $22.
Cincinnati Zoo's Tunes and Blooms series continues tonight with Shiny and the Spoon and The Tillers. The free concert features local favorite musicians performing in the beautiful setting of the zoo's gardens. The concert runs 6-8:30 p.m.; admission to the zoo is free after 5 p.m. (parking is $8). Tunes and Blooms continues every Thursday this month.
Jungle Jim's hosts a mystery mix cigar tasting tonight from 5-8 p.m. The tasting will be held at the Oscar Event Center's Monorail Terrace. Guests can enjoy three different cigars with $15 admission. There will be a cash bar, raffle and plenty of cigars and accessories for sale. Each Thursday, Jungle Jim's presents a different variety of cigars to try. No word yet on whether "mystery mix" is an early 4-20 reference.
Covington's Carnegie Center presents its sixth annual Art of Food show, opening tonight. As you might've guessed, this art exhibit is centered around all things edible. The reception features beautiful culinary creations (that you can actually eat) by everyone from BonBonnerie to La Poste, Queen City Cookies to Taste of Belgium. Admission is a little steep ($60 at the door for non-members), but you'll leave with your left brain and stomach both very satisfied. Admission after the reception is free. Get details here.
The opening reception kicks off at 8 p.m. In addition to checking out the artwork, electronic musician/wizard Dan Deacon will perform 8-9 p.m. If you haven't heard of him, here's a preview:
If you didn't score tickets to tonight's sold out Black Keys show, there are plenty of other music options. Eli's BBQ on Riverside Drive hosts Downtown Country Band tonight at 10 p.m. Tickets are $12. And really, any concert that also features barbecue is probably a sure bet. The Harlequins hosts an album release show Saturday at Mayday in Northside. Peep our interview with the crew. There are tons of other live music shows this weekend. Find them all on our music blog.
The Heights Music Festival (formerly Clifton Heights Music Festival, launched in 2009) kicks off tonight with more than 70 bands (and some comedy sets) at five venues within walking distance around Clifton Heights. Rohs Street Café, Baba Budan’s, Mac’s, Christy’s and Roxx Electrocafe all host performances beginning at 7 p.m. tonight and starting at 3 p.m. tomorrow afternoon through the night. Tickets are $8 for just tonight, $5 for tomorrow’s daytime shows or $12 for the whole weekend. Go here for lineup details and more information.
iconic Cincinnati-based artist Charley Harper passed away almost five years
ago, his artwork is as recognizable now than ever. His modernist depictions of
nature and wildlife still cover the walls of fans young and old. Mary Ran
Gallery is currently holding an exhibit and sale of Harper’s vintage signed and
numbered prints. Stop by the Hyde Park gallery, peep some of his colorful works
and walk away with one of your own. Find details here.
TEDxCincinnatiChange is the first of many TED events to hit the Tri-state this spring. Saturday’s theme is "Big Picture, Small Details," set to examine issues with global and local impact and zeroing in on small details to make big ideas work. This a satellite event of a national TEDxChange, which marks a partnership between TED (Technology, Entertainments and Design) and the Melinda Gates Foundation. The Cincinnati event will kick off with a live streaming of a TEDxChange talk from Berlin. Speakers and performers include filmmakers Andrea Sisson and Peter Ohs, True Body Project founder Stacy Sims, taste of Beligum's Jean-Francois Flechet and many more. The event is currently sold out, but go here to find other upcoming TED events.
Rumspringa is a rite of passage when Amish adolescents can leave their community and enjoy a relaxed atmosphere prior to deciding to be baptized or to leave the Amish church. In popular culture, those participating in Rumspringa are often portrayed as hardcore partiers, swapping their values and traditional garb for booze and sex (but in actuality, it’s not so drastic – most choose to continue being Amish). Saturday, Mayday presents its annual Rumspringa Beer and Sausage Fest. Rock out like it’s your only chance to do so and enjoy Amish-inspired delights like beerwurst, bangers, homemade mustards and more beer than you can shake a buckled shoe at. Remember to call a designated carriage driver! The fun starts at 4 p.m.
OTR A.D.O.P.T. is an organization that helps match prospective home/business owners renovate deteriorating historic buildings in Over-the-Rhine. Saturday, Neon’s Unplugged hosts a benefit for the organization, inviting you to Partly Like it’s 1869! Learn about the organization and how to get involved while celebrating the eclectic neighborhood. Costumes are encourage, so sport your favorite hoop skirt or suspenders and capture your look in a photo booth. A $5 donation gets you in; enjoy old timey drink specials from 8 p.m.-1 a.m.
Today is also the kick-off of American Craft Beer Week. That’s a thing! Cincinnati has a rich brewing history, so it’s no surprise that local watering holes are celebrating the creation and consumption of delicious craft beer. Tonight, Arnold’s taps Bell’s Third Coast Ale — one of two fifth-barrels in the entire city. Find Arnold’s full ACBW schedule here.
The Crazy Fox in Newport hosts open mic and all-night happy hour every Monday. All musicians are welcome to perform in a friendly atmosphere, beginning at 8:30 p.m. The Seedy Seeds’ Margaret Darling guest hosts this week.
It's Only A Day Away
Tomorrow, Northside Tavern hosts a fundraiser for End Slavery Cincinnati. Help raise awareness about human trafficking in the country and right here in Cincinnati from 5-10 p.m. There will be live music from The Flavor Junkies and Wild Mountain Berries, door prizes and more, for $5 at the door.
This American Life presented a live cinema event last Thursday that featured its standard true storytelling format, but with ample visual elements. In addition to anecdotes from David Sedaris, Tig Notaro and others, there were also dance performances, a hilarious short film from Mike Birbiglia and an interactive performance by OK GO. The theater in Newport where I watched the show was far too empty — I found the show more entertaining than any movie in theaters right now! Those who missed out have another chance to check out the program in theaters Tuesday. Sure, it will be a recording of the live show, but the charm and excitement of the live format will surely shine through. Without spoiling anything, the stories they were able to assemble were killer: laugh-out-loud, misty-eyed, thought-provoking TAL goodness.
Be sure to download this free app before you go — the TAL crew pulled some strings to allow audiences to use their phones at one point in the performance. Go here to find nearby theaters screening the show tomorrow at 7:30 p.m. Can I gush any more? No. It’s worth the $20 ticket. Please go.
Ricky, Julian and Bubbles bring the trailer park to town for
a night tomorrow! For those unfamiliar, Trailer Park Boys is a Canadian
mockumentary-style comedy series and movies that has developed a
cult following over the past decade. It’s white trash hilarity at its finest.
If last year’s live show was any indication, Tuesday’s “Community Service Variety
Show” is sure to bring the LOLs. Buy tickets here.
We're just two months away from the highly anticipated MidPoint Music Festival and the free MidPoint Indie Summer Series is still rockin' on. Stop by Fountain Square Friday for a taste of quality music you can expect at the September fest. This week's line up features a superb spread of local talent. Alternative Folk crew The Western kicks off the show at 7 p.m., followed by Garage Rockers The Prohibitionists at 8:15 p.m. July for Kings headlines the show at 9:30 p.m., bringing their quirky Rock & Roll sound. Check out a past interview with her crew here. For tickets, lineups and all the latest updates on MPMF, follow them on Facebook.
Hold on to your knickers, girls! This weekend is full of excellent music, arts, theater and shopping events. Here we go:
Ides of March premiers tonight (FINALLY). Check it out and see how many Cincinnati landmarks you can spot. Or just look at Ryan Gosling. Read our interview with an actor who is not Gosling or Clooney here, and check out our review.
Clifton Heights Music Festival is back for its fifth installment! Bands of all genres take over six Clifton-area bars (in walking distance of one another) tonight and Saturday. The ever-growing fest continues to be one of the most affordable - $8 gets you in all venues for one night, $12 for both nights. Go here for the full lineup and venue details.
Rapper Machine Gun Kelly plays Madison Theater tonight. My little sister wants to marry him. Important facts here.