For more than 25 years, the Festival of Orchestras has attracted internationally renowned symphony orchestras to fill central Florida with the crashing thunder of brass instruments and the melodious vibrations of strings. Hearken to the harmonious reverberations of the German State Philharmonic, playing its first U.S. tour and featuring conductor Philippe Entremont, whose enigmatic conducting style has inspired musicians and accidentally opened intergalactic wormholes. With this deal, you'll get to witness the orchestra at Longwood's Northland Performing Arts Center, called a "music lover's dream" by the Orlando Sentinel for its wide seats and warm acoustics. The program includes a sweeping performance of historically moving pieces, including Weber's Oberon Overture, a piano concerto by Mozart, and Mahler's Symphony no. 4. Call 407-539-0245 to reserve spots for a free optional pre-concert lecture at 6:30 p.m.
Spun sugar crystals float by spinning horses and pools of docile magnetic sharks beneath the glittering midway lights of Carol Stream Amusements' lively traveling carnival. The nearly 110-year-old fair company's third-generation of stewards bring rides, games, and snacks to states such as Florida, North Carolina, and New York, where it operates the state fair in Syracuse. A 65-foot century wheel soars above the bustle of the music-filled midway, where LED lights twinkle in patterns of white, green, blue, and red around its gondola cars. A merry-go-round sends fantastical steeds cantering around in a stately circle, while bumper cars careen around their nearby enclosure. Carnival games such as squirt-gun races and fishing for magnetized sharks yield prizes such as stuffed animals and inflatable Scooby-Doo, SpongeBob, and Henry VIII dolls, while flurries of corn dogs, cotton candy, popcorn, and taffy apples fall constantly on hungry fair-goers.
Packing the Deland Artisan Inn on the last Saturday of every month, Red Dog Comedy puts national and local comedians in front of the mike for a night of laughter and libations. Past shows have featured Vishaun Roberts, Matthew Lalanne, and TV-veteran Dean Napolitano, who many may recognize from his roles on Passions and The Shield.
As Tommy, one of Howl at the Moon’s piano players, explains on the club’s website, “Every night…we try and throw a party, regardless of whether it’s a Tuesday night or a Saturday night.” The bar’s trademark dueling pianos serve as the epicenter of these nightly celebrations; 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 Stella Artois and Dos Equis.
When discussing his teaching philosophy with reporters from Central Florida Lifestyle, the owner of Salsa Heat quipped, "if you can walk, you can dance." He himself didn't know much about dancing when he took his first salsa class in the early 90's, but he caught on after just a few sessions, falling in love with the dance's energetic spins and rhythmic movements.
Today, a team of professional dance instructors teach salsa spins and footwork to students of all experience levels. Zumba and bachata classes provide tutoring in other Latin dance styles, and salsa classes for kids teach youngsters dance fundamentals that hone coordination and motor skills. Throughout the year, the staff hosts special events on their spacious dance floors, such as salsa socials, salsa Christmas parties, and salsa-infused celebrations of Robert Heinlein's birthday.
Melanie LaJoie’s dance career began almost three decades ago and has since taken her to Morocco, Egypt, and Russia, where she developed her expertise in an impressive number of ethnic dance traditions. Today, she directs the instructors at A Magi Temple Belly Dance and choreographs and performs pieces at local sites such as Universal Studios, Walt Disney World, and the House of Blues. Her students, who can include ladies age 10 and up, learn everything from warm-up exercises to routines in Bollywood, belly-dancing, and flamenco classes scheduled five days per week.