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.
There’s more to MPMF than hopping from venue to venue and discovering your new favorite band (though that is an awesome aspect). The MidPoint Midway, which takes over Twelfth Street between Vine and Walnut, is not only the box office location (where you can still purchase three- or one-day tickets) but also features the returning Box Truck Carnival, poster expo, photo booth, food court and more. Here, MPMFers can enjoy box truck gallery exhibits, improv shows, an arcade and more interactive activities between concerts each day.
Just down the street at the School for Creative and Performing Arts, the Midland Film Institute presents the first MidPoint Film Festival, featuring local, independent and cult films (ahem, Human Centipede double feature). It’s a great sign that MPMF has expanded beyond music to incorporate art, film, theater and more entertainment — there’s quite literally something for everyone, from children to hip kids to old timers. Read more about the carnival and film fest here.
When you’re all MPMF-ed out, there’s even more happening around town.
Amid the MidPoint action, Night Owl Market returns to the parking lot at Main Street and Central Parkway. Grub out on goodies from local food trucks like SugarSnap!, New Orleans To Go and C’est Cheese from 8 p.m.-3 a.m. Friday and Saturday. Vendors will also be on hand hawking goods each night.
Remember our cover story on the area steampunk trend? The antiqued-futuristic creatives who brought the Steampunk Symposium to Cincinnati present Pandoracon Friday-Sunday. Whether you’re into comics, sci-fi, anime, cosplay or anything in between, there’s a nerd in all of us that wants to come out and play at Pandoracon. Meet fantasy artists and authors, geek out in the game room, dress in costume, watch sideshow circus acts and stop by what are sure to be some of the craziest hotel parties — all at Blue Ash’s Crowne Plaza Hotel. There are tons of events all weekend long, so go here for more info and tickets.
This weekend is
locals’ last chance to celebrate Oktoberfest this year with Newport on the
Levee’s festival running Friday-Sunday. Enjoy live music, traditional dancers
and all the beer and schnitzel you can stomach. Find a full rundown of events and menus here.
From UC students and grads to retired hippies to skater kids, Clifton has been home to many of us at one point or another, and the neighborhood holds special memories for most who have visited. Make more during A Weekend in Clifton, a celebration of Ludlow Avenue and its surroundings. The street will be closed from 6 p.m. Friday-Sunday to accommodate Cliftonfest — featuring vendors, live music and artists — and the 10th annual StreetScapes street-painting bash.
Oktoberfest Zinzinnati is taking over downtown this weekend, bringing around 500,000 guests! Once you've had your fill of schnitzel, Spaten and sauerkraut, stop by the CityBeat booth for the official Oktoberfest guide and register for a VIP MPMF Package and other prizes.
Get dolled up and party like it’s 1933 with performances by Rose Room and Cin City Burlesque and a DJ Havination dance party. Hot bites will be cooking up all night long; use the speakeasy password “George Remus” for cocktail specials featuring Canadian Club. It’ll be just like a scene in Boardwalk Empire — minus all that murder and stuff.
Want to get involved in local television and radio? Media Bridges hosts a holiday open house at their Central Parkway facility from 6-9 p.m. Friday. Learn about Media Bridges, WVQC and how to create your own media for TV and radio. Go here for more information.
If your office holiday party is a drag, skip that shit and head to Newport for Powerhouse Factories’ annual shin dig Friday. Enjoy drinks, music and great deals on Powerhouse’s rockin’ posters — perfect gifts for the music lovers on your shopping list. The first 50 partiers to arrive will get a freebie holiday print.
It’s Northside Second Saturday time, and this month features NVISION’s newly expanded space with the opening reception for artist Nancy Gamon; craft beer tasting contest at Mayday; Chicken Lays an Egg three-year anniversary; Hopnosis small batch specialty beer bash at The Comet and much more.
Did reading this month’s drink column make you want to learn more about the art of brewing and cupping coffee? Rob Hoos of Nossa Coffee, Adam Shaw of Deeper Roots Coffee, Alex Stahler of Tazza Mia host a “Coffee Nerdom” class this Sunday at 1215 Wine Bar & Coffee Lab in OTR. Learn about specialty coffee, the cupping process and single-brewing methods — and get your caffeine buzz on. Go here to register.
Bree from Hot Wheels Entertainment hosts karaoke at The Drinkery every Tuesday. Whether you're a karaoke god or just a spectator, swing by the OTR bar between 9 p.m.-2 a.m. for tunes and booze. Find details here.
Cincinnati Playwrights Initiative (CPI) continues its New Voices Season of Staged Readings with Edge Walking. Written by Barbara Harkness and directed by Patrick Downey, Edge Walking follows two parents who are faced with a child claiming he is the reincarnation of their oldest son who died as a POW in Vietnam. The encounter brings up feelings of anger, loss and grief as each character must deal with the death. Tickets to the 7:30 p.m. performance are just $8 and can be purchased before the show at the Aronoff Center. For more information, call CPI's Kalman Kivkovich at 513-861-0004.
Want to enjoy after-work drinks while learning about an important local cause? GLSEN (Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network) Greater Cincinnati presents a happy hour at Know Theatre from 5:30-7:30 p.m. tonight. Learn about GLSEN's mission to make schools safe for all students regardless of sexual orientation and gender identity or expression. Enjoy a cash bar and complimentary hors d’oeuvres while the organization will gives a brief presentation at 6:45 p.m. Learn more about GLSEN and how to become on ally here.
Celebrate Halfway to St. Patrick’s Day during the Cincinnati Celtic Festival Saturday and Sunday. The free fest moves from Fountain Square to Washington Park this year, but continues to celebrate all things Celtic with plenty of music, food and entertainment. Knock back some Guinness, cheer on Irish dancers and get jig-y to the sounds of bagpipes between noon and 10:30 p.m. both days.
With local Celts
taking over the park, this month’s City Flea moves up the street to the lot at
Twelfth and Vine. Vendors will be hawking everything from clothing and
accessories to home goods and fine art from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. The City Flea is a fun one-stop spot to
support local artisans and sellers all under one roof. Sans roof.
Downtown isn’t hogging all the fun this weekend — Milford’s Longstone Street Festival brings more than 15 area bands to the ‘burbs Saturday. Area musicians will perform on two stages along Main Street where kid-friendly activities await (we’re talking a Velcro wall, bungee joust, rock climbing and more). Saunter through historic downtown Milford, stop in a few shops and restaurants and enjoy the music from 11 a.m.-11 p.m.
The fun continues west at the Westwood Art Show, 11 a.m.-5 p.m. Sunday. More than 70 artists, crafters and DIY-ers will be selling goods including photography, re-purposed jewelry and accessories, woodwork, sculptures, pottery, edibles and more.
This weekend’s theater offerings include Ensemble Theatre’s Good People, The Three Musketeers at Playhouse in the Park, To Kill a Mockingbird at Cincinnati Shakespeare Company and Covedale’s Cat on a Hot Tin Roof. Peep the links for our reviews of each.
Browse our calendar for other events, art exhibits, volunteer opportunities and more to do this weekend.
An initiative of Green Umbrella, the Great Outdoor Weekend is this Saturday and Sunday. Hundreds of Cincinnati parks celebrate nature with more than 120 free events that are open to the public. Whether you are taking your dog out for a stroll around the neighborhood, planning a hiking trip to a local park you don't often frequent, or taking a camping trip, there's no better time than this weekend to take an outdoor adventure.
The first day at the Cincinnati Nature Center inspired our outdoor adventure and our next stop confirmed it. Devou Park is most famous for it's picture-perfect view of Cincinnati. On any given day, you might see a professional and his camera atop the hill taking a photo of the skyline, a couple picnicking or perhaps a duo that was just wed. The park is definitely known for it's view, but did you know it has several miles of hiking and mountain biking trails too? It wasn't hard for me to get lost underneath the canopy of trees and forget that I was less than five miles from downtown Cincinnati.
Does all of this outdoorsy talk have you searching for your old hiking boots yet? You're not the only one. Hundreds of people, rookies and seasoned outdoorsmen alike, are marking their calendars for the Great Outdoor Weekend. Before you set off into the wilderness, you could attend a seminar that will make you trail ready. Learn where to set camp, how to pack, and what to eat on your next trip by attending a Great Outdoors seminar and overnight with Roads Rivers and Trails.
As always, there will be dinner-by-the-bite from your favorite restaurants like Adriatico's, Izzy's and A Tavola; coffee and dessert from Coffee Emporium and BonBonerie; and the city's best cocktails including martinis, Bloody Marys and margaritas. As you're eating your way through the beautiful Memorial Hall, enjoy music from a DJ and a live performance from Exhale Dance Tribe performers.
Other events tonight include a Make and Bake glass jewelry class at Brazee Studios from 5-7 p.m., a Homegrown Tomatoes workshop at the Civic Garden Center from 6-8 p.m. and free concert at CCM featuring the U.S. Navy Band from Washington, D.C. at 8 p.m.
It’s Bunbury Weekend! The second annual three-day music fest takes over Sawyer Point Friday-Sunday with acts including fun., Walk the Moon, MGMT, Cake, Tegan and Sara, Yo La Tengo, Belle & Sebastian and tons more. Check out our interview with Matt Berninger of The National — Bunbury’s Sunday headliner — here.
In addition to great music, there will be tons of food and drink vendors with lots of local options, a craft beer village, free Rockstar energy drink and water samples and a Trojan vibrator giveaway from 4-8 p.m. Saturday (for real!). Official after-parties take place at Igby’s Friday, aliveOne Saturday and The Righteous Room Sunday. Ready to go? Don't leave home without peeping our cheat sheet, complete with lineup, map, dos and don’ts and more vital info.
One- and three-day
tickets to Bunbury are still available here.
Second Sunday on Main returns to Over-the-Rhine this week with a lineup of special Pride events in addition to the art, shopping, demos, kids activities, food and music that the free street festival serves up every month. Be sure to check out the annual Drag Race and Dykes on Trykes — a race you’ll have to see to believe! — as well as the new mobile boutique Truckshop. Read more about the unique, locally owned shop-on-wheels here. Second Sunday on Main runs noon-5 p.m.
The Gambling Rose
Tattoo Convention brings some of the best tattoo artists across the globe to
town for the weekend. Swing by Duke Energy Center Friday-Sunday for tattoo
competitions, seminars, vendors and a roller derby showdown between the
Cincinnati Rollergirls and the Black-N-Bluegrass Rollergirls. Tattoo artists
and piercers from around the country and world will be under one roof,
available for appointments. Featured artists include Jerod Ray and Tylor Schwarz
(contestants on Oxygen’s Best Ink
Season Two); Sarah Miller (runner-up, Spike’s Ink Master Season Two); Tatu Baby (contestant on Spike’s Ink Master Season Two, voted by fans to
return to Season Three — premieres Tuesday); and Chris Torres (NY Ink bad boy). Tickets are $20 for a single-day
pass/$30 for two days/$40 for the whole weekend.
Newport on the Levee is going to be a real sausage fest this weekend — literally! The Queen City Sausage Festival unites all the loves of a true Cincinnatian: pork, beer and river views. Eat your way through more than two-dozen sausage specimens including the grilled gyro cheddar met, the zest Italian sausage hoagie and, of course, Queen City goetta. There will also be foods that didn’t once say “oink,” plus live music, eating contests and lots of rides and games for the kids. The fest runs Friday-Sunday at the Levee and admission is free.
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.