In 2009, The New York Times named The Camel Richmond's "premier venue" for "up-and-coming Southern rock and bluegrass bands, acoustic singer-songwriters, and jazz and funk musicians." So far, nothing's changed: The Camel still hosts local and nationally touring acts such as Ben Kweller and James McCartney, who, unlike his father, has never toured with a band named after icky bugs. But even though it's lauded for providing live music seven nights a week, The Camel makes a space for all art, including occasional film screenings.
Like its entertainment lineup, The Camel's cuisine is an eclectic mix of American flavors. The culinary team, lead by executive chef Xavier Beverly, whips up gourmet vegan risottos, grills fresh seafood, and tops flatbreads with spinach, mushrooms, and hummus. But they also keep things casual with finger foods such as the popular sausage stars and housemade beef burgers crowned with horseradish mayo. Served until 2 a.m. nightly, each dish can be paired with local or craft beers, which fill the 28 taps lining The Camel's exposed brick wall.
The Camel is open for lunch Monday through Saturday, and brunch on Sunday.
In support of her high-decibel new album, Rihanna kicks off her hotly anticipated LOUD tour with emphatic gusto and a sizzling roster of special guests. Like an art show at a sundae bar, the LOUD tour floods the senses, enchanting audiences with lavishly designed sets, myriad costume changes, move-busting dancers, and Rihanna's songbook of Grammy magnets. Crooner Cee Lo Green augments the songful offerings with his own vocal talents, and Roc Nation rapper and rhythm scientist J. Cole further helps resuscitate ear drums traumatized by the outside world's blaring car horns and shrill howler monkeys.
Encore Studio's owner and art director, Karen King Flores, is a professional dance instructor certified through Dance Masters of America and a former apprentice of Robert Joffrey, founder of the Joffrey Ballet. Her graceful performances appeared in such esteemed companies as the Houston Ballet and the Richmond Ballet before she opened her studio's doors in the early 1990s. With 25 years of experience teaching dance under her belt, Karen and her talented staff of teachers—who hail from international dance companies, Vegas shows, and the Kirov in Russia—ground each dance class in fundamental skills and proper technique as they teach students to perform original, age-appropriate choreography. Their well-rounded curriculum includes instruction in jazz, ballet, tap, and hip-hop, a collection of techniques that falls in line with the instructors' priority of letting each participant have fun as they learn. Encore Studio's welcoming, noncompetitive environment allows talent to blossom without fear of judgment from an ambitious old tap shoe.
In 2011, readers of Richmond magazine voted Rigby's Jig Dance Studio the Best Place to Learn How to Dance for Your Wedding, citing instructors that will help choose music and can choreograph routines to classic torch songs and pop tunes. With a lifetime's worth of experience—starting at the age of 3 and including a bachelor's in Theater and Dance from George Washington University—owner Eleanor Robertson heads an enthusiastic faculty.
Robertson’s favorite dances include West Coast swing and the cha-cha, both of which are among the 19 ballroom dances taught to any adult within the bright confines of the citrus-colored studio. Argentine tango milongas and dance parties take over in the evenings, allowing students to try out new steps with members of the broader dance community. The spacious studio seats 100 across its gleaming hardwood floors, and rows of mirrors enable those in movement classes⎯yoga and cardio dance are also on the schedule⎯to work on the balance and alignment of their vestigial tails.
Simply Ballroom’s resident instructors utilize their experience navigating dance floors to bolster students’ body movements in drop-in group classes and private lessons for all ages and skill levels. Students can initiate a new dance career or refine familiar steps alongside like-footed individuals through focused tutelage in Viennese waltz, West Coast swing, foxtrot, and a mélange of Latin styles. During group lessons, students grasp their favorite partner or nimblest coat rack to glean the basic step counts and intricate maneuvers of the chosen discipline as instructors provide helpful correction and encouragement. On Sundays, practice parties lend ballroom pupils the chance to showcase newly learned steps in a public setting while enjoying the camaraderie of other students, outside dancers, and overzealous Broadway casts escaping public-disturbance charges.
The menu at Strange Matter has plenty of meaty offerings, but chef Paul Webb prefers to focus on vegan food. Diners averse to animal products can munch on mango donut holes, house-made lentil burgers, and even vegan grilled-cheese sandwiches. Visit Strange Matter’s graffiti-decorated space during the day, and you’ll feast amid the blips and bleeps of an arcade stocked with classic games including Space Invaders, and Street Fighter II, where players see how hard they can punch a cobblestone road. At night, the restaurant transforms into a music venue for indie acts such as Jeff the Brotherhood and Titus Andronicus.