Like many of Fox's lavish movie palaces, the Meyer opened in the 1930s, only to see its Spanish Atmospheric touches fade over the years as it became a modern triplex cinema. But once it was converted to its current incarnation as a live performing arts venue, the staff worked hard to restore its opulence, from the midnight-blue sky with twinkling stars to columns decorated with gold leaves. The theater's crown jewel, however, is the Mighty Wurlitzer organ, which was refurbished using the original 1927 blueprint. With its pipes ranging from the size of a pencil to 16 feet, the instrument boasts a range of tones and cinematic sound effects, such as horse hooves, chattering teeth, and David O. Russell roaring at his actors.
With a long-standing commitment to women, children, minorities, and social-justice issues and a presence in the district since 1905, the YWCA is more than just a workout facility. The history of the organization is peppered with groundbreaking programs to bolster race relations, achieve women's empowerment through business ventures, and promote children's health by providing access to physical activity. Other fitness initiatives take place in the YWCA's gyms, where instructors put to use training in Zumba, kickboxing, and other disciplines. Staff members further the organization's vision with dedication to school-age programs for health and fitness efforts and initiatives to help unemployed community members locate jobs in the area.
For more than 30 years, the dedicated instructors at Valley Social Dance Studio have shared their joy of ballroom dancing with students of all experience levels. These certified teachers make it fun by making it easy, leading group and private lessons at a slow pace while making sure that everybody remains engaged.
There aren't a lot of theater stages that can claim to have hosted presidential speeches—and fewer yet for which that president was William Howard Taft. Opened in 1883, the Grand Opera House has seen performances by the likes of Mark Twain, Harry Houdini, and John Philip Sousa, among other culture-makers of distant generations. Across a century and a quarter, the magnificent auditorium has played the parts of a vaudeville venue and a movie theater, and it wasn't until the mid-'80s that the stage resumed its duties as an opera house. After a sweeping referendum, the city acquired and restored the building, and in 1986 it reopened with a new staging of The Bohemian Girl—the same work that had first lifted its curtains more than a 100 years earlier. Today, 660 can enjoy the opera house's historic magnificence: an enormous, staggered chandelier, cherubic murals across the ceiling and flanking the balcony, and an unmatched ambiance of crimson and gold grandeur.
In the 1930s, big bands and lauded musicians played a famous bar called Weilers and would one day become Memories Dinner Theater. The music bounced off the very same 2,500-square-foot maple dance floor, tamarack log ceiling, and twin stone fireplaces that remain today, though Memories has since expanded its entertainment options beyond song and dance.
As guests feast on three-course meals, the theater's roster of top-notch actors tackle dramas, musicals, audience-interactive murder mysteries, and comedies. The laughs continue on Chicken Comedy nights, when funnyman Rob Haswell hosts renowned comedians whose jokes keep diners chortling in between bites not of rubber, but of broasted chicken and food from an unlimited buffet.
The consortium of professional instructors at Fred Astaire Dance Studios, which was cofounded by the legendary toe tapper himself, shepherds students of all ages and skill levels through lessons that span the style spectrum. Low-pressure private sessions allow enthusiastic teachers to fine-tune individual students' techniques and form, using their expert eyes and mechanical dancing shoes preprogrammed to do the Charleston. Patrons can learn how to cavort through classic waltz and fox-trot romps or swivel through the modern steps of salsa, swing, or samba. For dancers hoping to hoof it up in a social setting, the group practice parties provide a one-night extravaganza of instruction and demonstrations.