Piano keys float through the air on a mural on the wall of Chez Vin Wine Lounge, a Chester wine bar with subdued lighting and a relaxed ambience. Jazz melodies drift through the air as bartenders fill glasses with beer and local wines. As patrons chat with friends or engage in staring contests with strangers, chefs flavor blue crab claws with Old Bay seasoning, wrap scallops with bacon, and prepare other tapas.
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.
Film buffs across six states stare wide-eyed at large cinema screens, losing themselves in first-run Hollywood movies and the smell of fresh, buttery kernels within Your Neighborhood Theatre's 17 locations. Though all theaters prioritize comfortable seating, old-fashioned friendly service, and high-stakes preshow trivia slideshows, each location encompasses its own distinct charm, be it through arthouse décor, 3-D screens, or Rhode Island's vintage 1950's drive-in setting.
Located in the historic Shockoe Bottom district, longtime venue Hat Factory plays host to an extensive variety of live entertainment. For 13 days in October, the club morphs into Fear Factory, a ghoulishly gleeful haunted house spotlighting themed events every night. Scare-seekers may glimpse the spirit of clown Thurman "Laughing Man" Ray, whose undeadness adds a chilling layer to a seemingly innocent profession. The eerie extravaganza commences on Tuesday, October 19 with a special Halloween edition of the club's popular RVAlution with Dave Nada, a study in social interaction co-chaired by live performers and professional DJs. The Massacre-ade Ball on Saturday, October 30 provides the perfect excuse to wear that plainclothes police officer costume you've been storing all these years. The visually inclined can experience the spine-tingling Fear Factory teaser video here.
BlackFinn American Saloon entices crowds to let loose with a bevy of cold drinks, an all-day menu of chic comfort food, and popular after-hours mingling. Tame ornery stomachs with the barbecue bacon sliders, four miniature burgers topped with melted cheese, bacon, mushrooms, and barbecue sauce on potato-roll beds ($8.99), or opt for the full-sized Black Angus saloon burger, complete with bacon, caramelized onions, and a miniature piano ($9.99). Diners can choose to sink teeth into grilled steak tips ($14.99) or pay tribute to America’s first and only overlords with an order of beer-battered fish 'n' chips ($11.99).
Elegantly lit and plushly upholstered, The Byrd Theatre looks much the same as it did on its opening day in 1928—and sounds much the same, too, thanks to its centerpiece, the Mighty Wurlitzer Organ. Every Saturday night, resident organist Bob Gulledge takes his seat at the orchestra-pit console and might preface the evening's second-run screening of a blockbuster film with selections from Phantom of the Opera or a rousing rendition of "Take Me Out to the Ball Game." The antique pipes and bells—which occupy four rooms above the stage—roar back to life with a candy-colored sonority that triggers nostalgia and wakes up any vaudeville performers napping inside.
Since 2007, The Byrd Theatre Foundation has helped facilitate the restoration and preservation of the 1,300-seat auditorium and its organ, making sure it stays State and National Historic Landmark it is today. The Byrd Theatre supplements regular screenings with year-round events, ranging from film and comedy festivals to public-arts forums.
Hailing from Trinidad and Tobago, head chef Claudia Fentress crafts an island-inspired menu, which contains mouthfuls of Caribbean and American cuisine to feed guests consuming earfuls of live jazz. Experience life stranded on a deserted island with a world-class chef by diving into jumbo-sized pan-seared scallops with Caribbean seasoning and a garlic-butter coconut sauce ($13), then feast on a fresh rack of lamb marinated in rosemary, mint, and garlic ($21). Served with a side of Caribbean cognac-mustard sauce, the stuffed grilled chicken breast deftly hides bites of vegetables, crab, and shrimp ($19), and the swashbuckling Caribbean vegetable trio ($15) slices through hunger with cabbage, green beans, muscle-building spinach, and plantain swords.