Arthur Murray Dance Studio has been a leading name in franchise dance since 1912, when the entrepreneur began selling mail-order dance lessons. Expanding his reach, he enlisted teachers to spread his signature dance lessons on first-class steamships and skyrocketed to fame in the '30s after introducing the public to such dances as the Lambeth Walk and the Big Apple. By the 1950s, Arthur and his wife, Kathryn, were hosting their own highly popular TV show on ABC, the Arthur Murray Dance Party, which ran for 12 years. Today, Arthur Murray's team prepares students for rug cutting at special events and weekend nightclub jaunts. Clients who arrive to lessons partnerless will be paired up with other classmates as the instructors assess their current skill level and make recommendations on the most appropriate program. Throughout lessons, instructors teach the foundations of two to four dances from a long list of styles that range from Latin to country-western, helping students to learn basic step patterns, timing, and the ability to lead or follow.
The Kalamazoo Wedding Affair sets brides-to-be and their fiancés loose to explore, meet, and bounce ideas off some of west Michigan's most sought-after wedding experts. Dozens of exhibitors converge to create a buffet of possibilities that range from bridal fashions, cakes, and catering to gift registries and photographers. Couples can also scope out postceremony services, including reception halls and honeymoon destinations.
More than 2,000 animals populate John Ball Zoo, crawling, swimming, and flying from five different continents and more than 250 different species. The zoo has some other impressive stats: in 2013 alone, for instance, more than 500,000 visitors flocked to John Ball Zoo to marvel at its collection of creatures. Animal-lovers can spot critters big and small, from lions and bears to lizards and lemurs. In the North America section, they come nose-to-nose with grizzlies, and on the Far Side of the World Trail, they get close enough to smell the wallabies' cologne.
At some exhibits, the view is even closer. Visitors can pet stingrays and sharks, ride atop the humps of a camel, and stop by the petting zoo at Red's Hobby Farm. For an adrenaline fix, zoo adventures include the zip line, offering bird's-eye views of the farm from a four-story, 300-foot line.
Of the many 5K events held in the midwest, only one requires runners to sully themselves slipping down a mudslide. The annual Eat Dirt Mud Run sends thousands of runners through a grueling and characteristically muddy 5K landscape. The hosts have devised a one-lap course replete with slippery hill climbs, cargo nets, multiple mud pits, and fields of tires to challenge runners' endurance and grit. As adult participants?some donning costumes?sprint and stumble through the course, child runners can test their mettle in the Kids Mini Mud Run, in which competitors 6?12 traipse through a smaller, one-mile course. After concluding the race, runners rinse off at the course's wash station and can describe their thrilling journeys to fellow racers and earthworms they befriended during their muddy plunge.
In common parlance, an all-nighter means you've greeted the sunrise after a long night of work. Not so at Skynet Gaming, whose Friday all-nighters are dedicated to play. From 8 p.m. to 8 a.m., guests can nom on pizza and pop while playing the latest PC, Xbox 360, or Nintendo Wii titles against fellow Skynet attendees and gamers out in Internetland. Individual gaming stations accommodate players with high-definition displays, as well as comfy sofas and chairs.
Skynet hosts open gaming sessions until 2 a.m. the rest of the week, as well as tournaments, league games, and rounds of board and card games such as Magic: The Gathering. And, its in-house tech wizards can repair any malfunctioning computers or consoles, so gaming can pick right up when you get home.
Adhering to the USA Gymnastics slogan, "Start here, go anywhere," the instructors at R-Athletics prepare youths for physically fit futures, whether they continue on to be competitive gymnasts or competitive gymnasts' favorite hairdressers. Lofty windows fill the expansive facility with sunlight, spotlighting the professional gymnastics equipment that speckles the floors of colorful mats. Amid the tumble pits and trampolines, a staff of qualified professionals leads youngsters 18 months old to 18 years old in gymnastics and cheerleading visits throughout the week. As their children master vaults, bars, and beams, parents can watch proudly from the facility's ground-level and elevated viewing centers.