The Long Island Comedy Festival, which won a thumbs-up from Newsday in 2009, sends laughing fits rippling through southeastern New York with showcases of some of the area's most accomplished comedians. The namesake festival spreads out across Long Island every summer, landing at venues that might range from an old-fashioned playhouse to a family amusement park. Many alumni return to perform year after year, making for a festive atmosphere that executive producer Paul Anthony likens to "a comedy party that the audience members have been invited to," rather than one that they sadly listen to through the floorboards. During the rest of the year, the organizers stay busy producing comedy series at other historic venues and exporting their team of comics to college shows.
During the Big Apple Beatdown, an all-day roller-derby tournament hosted by the New York Shock Exchange, spectators arrive to the rink with chairs under their arms to watch six notable MRDA teams battle for the National Champion title. Bouts begin at 10 a.m. with the Dallas Deception taking on the Magic City Misfits in a storm of skates, helmets, and trampled 10-gallon hats. Other teams battling for supremacy include the St. Louis GateKeepers, Puget Sound Derby Outcasts, and Pioneer Valley Dirty Dozen. A special women’s game will also be held featuring the Long Island Roller Rebels taking on the Jersey Shore Roller Girls. The championship bout commences at 7:30 p.m., and the day ends with a presentation of medals at 9:15 p.m., where one team is deemed the victor. Matches occur on two separate tracks, allowing smooth transitions between bouts and enough time for padded pros to finish a game of Connect the Bruises.
At Vitae Restaurant & Wine Bar, executive chef Steven Del Lima puts a contemporary spin on continental fare from filet mignon to veal scallopini, a talent that helped him earn an entry in Best Chefs America. Del Lima's appetizers in particular have an international flair—beef tenderloin medallions come with hand-stretched tandoori naan, and flash-fried calamari is glazed with sweet Thai pepper.
At Vitae's opening in 2011, a reviewer from the New York Times praised both the "tender baby back ribs," brushed with house-made black-coffee barbecue sauce, and the "elegant" ambiance, enhanced by the soft glow of recessed lighting and hanging lamps. Stored behind an onyx-amber bar and in a 1,400-bottle cellar, an extensive wine selection earned the Huntington eatery a Wine Spectator Award of Excellence in 2012.
Rookies Sports Club performs a full-court press on the senses, sporting a menu with a mouthwatering array of grilled and fried snacks and displaying 10 television screens that allow fans to survey the scores around the league. The whole baseball squad or the Russian Olympic go-kart shot-putters can share an order of 50 Rookies signature wings ($38), swaddled in a choice of eight sauces. The Bronx Bomber steak burger creates a favorable matchup against offensive hunger pains, boasting a lineup of chopped sirloin, caramelized onions, applewood bacon bits, and blue cheese ($15.99). Rookies Sports Club also stocks a frosty collection of craft beers for a postgame celebration/commiseration, from the Belgian Gulden Draak Triple Ale to the coppery Keegan Ales Hurricane Kitty IPA. While nursing a glass of Black Dog Ale, guests can listen to sports commentators pontificating over their choice of game from a set of cordless speakers.
After a performance of The Nutcracker, Cirque Du Soleil, or the Radio City Rockettes, it’s not uncommon to see the dancers head down to teach a class at Nancy's Dance Factory. Led by Nancy Hayden, the artistic director, the team at Nancy's Dance Factory has been enriching students’ lives with dance for more than 35 years. They specialize in a variety of dance styles, ranging from ballet and tap to tumbling, pointe, hip-hop, and contemporary. Nancy's Dance Factory welcomes boys and girls as young as 2.5 years old.
Stacy Plaske, founder and owner of Balance Yoga & Healing Arts, nurtures an environment of self-discovery and holistic health with a team of alternative-health professionals and the experience she accrued over 10 years of teaching Ashtanga-style yoga. Stacy hones her understanding of the challenging yoga modality through constant study and yearly pilgrimages to India, where she studies Ashtanga’s self-guided counterpart, Mysore. Bolstered by a staff of instructors, Stacy helms a schedule of athletic Ashtanga, flowing Vinyasa, and alignment-focused Iyengar classes. Instructors accommodate students of all skill levels by suggesting modified poses, and ease less flexible attendees into stretches by affixing helium balloons to students' limbs. The center’s professional massage therapists use relaxing or restorative modalities to soothe overstressed muscles, and an on-staff acupuncturist frees up the body's blocked energy pathways with a combination of precise needle placement and Chinese herbal medicine.
During Group and Cuddles and Strokes swim sessions, the aqua aces at Saf-T-Swim equip bipeds with the skills and safety techniques necessary for conquering liquid-filled lands. Group classes sport student/instructor ratios as small as four to one, giving each floater more personalized attention as he or she learns to glide through the water more gracefully than a troupe of manatee ballerinas. Buyers can purchase multiple Groupons to allow families and friends to gain aqueous footing in the same welcoming environment among their peers and other swim scholars.