A rare outlet for commercially sanctioned laughter in downtown Los Angeles, Garrett Morris’ Downtown Blues and Comedy Club helps visitors escape the stresses of the workweek with a rotating stable of top-tier standup talent every Friday and Saturday. Comic legend Garrett Morris, now seen as Earl on CBS’ 2 Broke Girls, hosts showcases of comic talent with charming wit and tales of how he outlived the original cast of Saturday Night Live. The bill remains consistently loaded with fresh-faced and seasoned funny folk, with past luminaries including George Lopez, Margaret Cho, and Wayne Brady, along with aspiring stars in the twilight before their first mismatched-marriage sitcom.
Keeping true to its name and Morris’ roots in the New Orleans music scene, the venue often punctuates its comedy shows with performances from top blues artists—including Morris himself, who has lent his soulful pipes to the Harry Belafonte Singers—that add melody to the mirth. While weekend shows feature Garrett’s hosting and harmonies along with the headlining acts, the Thursday Night Experience allows youthful burgeoning comics and musicians to hog the spotlight.
The Hershey Theatre, conceived in 1933 by noted philanthropist and chocolatier Milton S. Hershey, stands as an opulent tribute to the performing arts. Taking architectural cues from Saint Mark’s Basilica in Venice, the foyer’s towering arches gleam with golden paint and crystal chandeliers. The blue-and-gold mosaic that leads to the main seating area is the masterwork of two German artists who spent two years on its construction. Once inside the theater, audiences might think they’ve stepped onto the streets of Venice thanks to the atmospheric ceiling, stonework facades, and gondoliers paddling them to their seats.
####Bethel Woods Center for the Arts
Music has permeated the 800 manicured acres where the Bethel Woods Center for the Arts has stood since 1969, when farmer Max Yasgur agreed to let love, peace, and harmony grow wild at the very first Woodstock festival. These days, the renowned outdoor venue and cultural center continues to attract the biggest acts in music to its pavilion stage. The open-air design ensures ample ventilation on the natural sloping lawn, and a roof protects up to 15,000 fans from inclement weather and the prying eyes of Cessna pilots.
Presiding over the south side of the Lincoln Center's main plaza, the David H. Koch Theater is undergoing a 10-year renovation to keep it as stunning as the day it opened during the 1964 World's Fair. Even without restoration, the theater's 7,875-square-foot promenade creates a magnificent backdrop to the plaza's fountain—particularly at twilight, when the floors of inlaid travertine marble glow in golden harmony with 40-foot ceilings filigreed with gold leaf. Classical statuary bookends the lobby, and four balcony levels give visitors plenty of vantage points during intermission.
For decades, patrons of the New York City Ballet (and, until 2008, the New York City Opera) have ascended the spiral staircases and bathed in the light of the auditorium's spherical chandelier, the luminous center of the ceiling's ornate flower pattern. The David H. Koch Theater also plays host each year to a variety of local and international dance troupes, such as the Paul Taylor Dance Company, Shen Yun Performing Arts, and the Nederlands Dans Theater.
Raindance began as a thought experiment: can you make a movie with no money or experience, and without going to film school? 22 years, later Raindance now has 12 film networking and training hubs worldwide, and runs the largest indie film festival in Europe, the Raindance Film Festival. They provide hands on training, networking events, financing opportunities, and an innovative Membership program to help new and emerging filmmakers get their projects made.
Raindance's practical filmmaking and writing workshops break the daunting cinema-creation process into digestible workshops as industry professionals help to elevate the aptitude of independent filmmakers. Students can select courses that teach film industry basics including how to build a budget, choose a camera, and promote themselves. As a non-profit training and networking organization that works to promote and support filmmaking throughout the world, many classes conclude with networking sessions at local bars where participants can trade business cards to further their cinematic pursuits.
Though they hail from all over the world, the instructors at Bellyqueen are united by their passion for belly dance. Their dedication to the Middle Eastern art?and their eagerness to educate others about the empowering, often misunderstood dance form?led co-founder Kaeshi Chai to established their own bellydancing company and school in the East Village. Kaeshi's enthusiasm has caught on?since opening in 1998, Bellyqueen has gained acclaim for its unconventional workouts welcoming participants of all sizes and skill levels.
Today, the bustling studio continues to teach traditional bellydancing techniques while incorporating world-fusion styles. Experienced instructors guide guests through the sensual movements, encouraging them as they practice footwork, breath, and presentation. When they aren?t fine-tuning their routines to eyeball-enticing perfection, students can watch Bellyqueen?s professional dancers perform at weekly Djam NYC shows at Jebon and special events.