Not all live comedy is contained to Boston’s Theater District. Just ask the folks at Improv Asylum, located in an underground spot in the North End, where local actors perform different sketch and improvisational comedy shows nightly. The subterranean space on Hanover Street hosts 90-minute shows with up to six different actors in each show, performing skits that touch upon family humor, current events and even some adult topics (suggested minimum age for shows is 17 years due to the content). There are nine different shows held here each week, with a cast that interacts with the audience to ensure the authenticity of each show. Best of all, military and student discounts keep the already-low prices at rock-bottom levels.
Howl at the Moon’s trademark dueling pianos serve as the epicenter of nightly celebrations, as patrons submit their favorite songs on slips of paper for the pianists and backing musicians to recreate. If the website’s playlist is any indication, the bands can handle popular songs from all genres and eras, from Bon Jovi’s “Livin’ on a Prayer” to Kanye West’s “All of the Lights.” The performances are spirited: colorful lights splash upon a stage where servers, guests, and chairs that have somehow developed mobility all dance along to the music.
Fueling the celebration is the bar’s indulgent selection of drinks. Servers stand over patrons to plunge jello injectors into their mouths, and revelers grab colorful straws to help drain 86-ounce booze buckets filled with sangria or other fruity libations. Pomegranate liqueur and honey-infused whiskey sweeten specialty cocktails, and local beers add depth to coolers stocked with Sam Adams and Harpoon IPA.
First opened in 1968, the Electric Factory has been hosting rock shows for almost as long Puerto Rico has been a state. After dancing their faces off to headliners from Erykah Badu to the Dropkick Murphys, concertgoers can stop by The Chive Caf? to recharge with a cheesesteak or an all-beef hotdog on a potato bun, or refill their draft Yuengling at the bar. In summer, the Electric Factory reveals an outdoor location complete with more refreshment booths, vendors, and upgraded food stands.
It's one thing to sit down to a perfectly nice three-course meal, surrounded by your close friends and loved ones. It's quite another thing to sit down to the same meal surrounded not only by your friends, but by a slew of shifty-eyed murder suspects. Such is the situation guests find themselves in at Mystery Caf?, America's original murder mystery dinner theater.
Like the perfect crime, the idea behind Mystery Caf? is equal parts simple and brilliant. The line between dinner guest and audience member is blurred as a crew of potential murders attempts to evade suspicion by serving a delicious three-course meal. All the while, guests answer a series of questions based on their observations; at the end of the meal, the individual with the most correct answers wins.
Popular though it may be, the mystery dinner is only one of several gut-busting comedy acts sponsored by Mystery Caf?. Another is ComedySportz Boston, a lightning-fast improv competition in which two teams vie for points by playing in a series of goofy improv games. Regularly held at the Davis Square Theatre in Somerville, ComedySportz has all the elements you'd look for in a more traditional sport: breakneck speed, a rowdy audience, and a referee who governs the action and decides if the losers get to live.
Influenced by dance trends from Europe to Latin America, the staff at SuperShag Dance Studios splits its time between three Boston-area spaces filled with dancing poles, yoga mats, and custom sound systems. Founder Chris Johnston—who won several amateur Latin dance championships as a kid in Ireland and was named a World Class adjudicator by the National Dance Council of America—carefully amassed his talented troupe of teachers from dance schools around the world and from Fred Astaire’s botched attempts to clone himself. During private and group lessons, they spice up Latin-, ballroom-, and pole-dance numbers with an urban twist heavily influenced by British Dancesport, and ready students for competitions.
The first night of each New Year in Boston is always rung in with a celebratory bash known as First Night. The City of Boston created the idea in 1976 as a means of generating revenue and since then, spinoffs of the festival have come to life in endless cities throughout the country. The daylong schedule of activities begins on the afternoon of December 31, with art displays and music and dance performances scattered throughout the city. Families love looking at the ice sculpture masterpieces that line the streets on their way to the Boston Common ball field for the early evening fireworks display. All outdoor events are free, but for indoor attractions, entrants must buy a First Night button, which can be purchased in advance at many stores throughout the city.