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A neighborhood bar that’s LGBT-friendly (and friendly in general), and a great place to unwinding after a long workweek before getting your groove on.
Live music venue with possibly the best acoustics in town and an impressive beer menu and nightly drink specials. Best use: Anytime live music is onstage; typically no cover during the week, while weekend covers stay under $10.
AMF Wonder Lanes & Legends Bar
1948 Austin Hwy.
Vibe Silent, smoky nostalgia trip with a full bar, optional snacks, and a nameless bartender we secretly love
Best use Smoking between games, lame attempts at making the nameless bartender smile, guerilla-style iPod DJ parties, $1 games and $1 shoes on Monday nights till 11 p.m.
Prices Wells: $3.50; domestic bottles: $3; import bottles: $4; domestic drafts: $3; premium drafts: $4; pitchers: $8.50-$12
Even if you can’t dance salsa, Arjon’s will make you want to try. Live music Thursday-Sunday (with free salsa lessons Sundays from 7:30-9pm) sets the stage for seasoned professionals and protégées to cut some serious rug. Cocktail waitresses charge only slightly more if you’re lucky enough to score a table _ otherwise it’s dancing-room only. If you overdose on cumbia and merengue, hit the back patio, where you’re likely to find couples refueling over plates of mini tacos.
The Art-of-Java is dedicated to the beauty of art and coffee and supporting local artists of all forms and mediums.
Artpace is San Antonio’s most contemporary arts institution; a combination art lab and community center where something unusual and creative is almost always going on. Founded by the late artist-philanthropist Linda Pace in 1995, Artpace provides residency fellowships for Texas, out-of-state, and international art stars, exhibits hot contemporary work, and performs community outreach and education. Check out its kid-friendly fests such as October’s annual Chalk it Up (wherein artists and regular folk make original chalk drawings on downtown sidewalks), outstanding film series and lectures, and social events such as rooftop concerts and potluck dinners.
Penned in 1816 by German author E. T. A. Hoffmann, The Nutcracker and the Mouse King formed the fantastical springboard for the Tchaikovsky-scored two-act ballet The Nutcracker. Premiered in 1892 in St. Petersburg, Russia, with choreography by Marius Petipa and Lev Ivanov, the holiday mainstay has inspired an eclectic array of adaptations—from B. Bumble and the Stingers’ boogie-woogie hit “Nut Rocker” to the burlesque satire The Slutcracker. Choreographed by Gabriel Zertuche and conducted by Akiko Fujimoto, this local production unites Ballet San Antonio and the San Antonio Symphony for dancing around the Christmas tree, a war between gingerbread soldiers and menacing mice, and an enchanting voyage in a dolphin-powered boat to meet the Sugar Plum Fairy in the Land of Sweets.
Lady Gaga may be trying to shove “art pop” down our throats, but critics increasingly recognize Kanye West as the king of the avant-garde/radio top 40 hybrid. New York magazine’s art critic Jerry Saltz credited the rapper’s insane “Bound 2” video with creating “a collective cultural fracturing … that I call the New Uncanny.” None other than the late Lou Reed reviewed West’s Yeezus, a deeply polarizing album that dropped this summer (“lookout, this guy is making connections,” wrote Reed about West’s ability to merge hip-hop with other “high art” pursuits). Now, reviews of his Yeezus Tour describe the effort as “an energetic, artistically ambitious and at times majestic ‘concept’ concert.” The spectacle includes cultish back-up dancers, a jeweled facemask, two mountains, White Jesus, snow and more. Take that, Gaga. Kendrick Lamar opens.
The book Tamales, Comadres and the Meaning of Civilization reminds that tamales have served as “one of the keys to the survival of humans for the last 7,000 years in the Americas.” Deceptively simple in appearance, these holiday staples can prove quite challenging to make, which is the premise behind Alicia Mena’s Las Nuevas Tamaleras. Since its 1993 debut, the production has emerged as a favorite fans consider “as much a tradition with the San Antonio community as The Nutcracker.” Touching on the hard work, bonding and mishaps intrinsic to Yuletide tamaladas, Mena’s one-act comedy stars Kinya Cano, Melissa Silva and Sonia Rodriguez as first-time tamaleras who get an unexpected assist from the ghosts of tamal experts Doña Juanita (Rita Duggan) and Doña Mercedes (Lorraine Pulido).
December 8 marks the 33rd anniversary of the murder of John Lennon at the hands (gun) of an idiot whose name I don’t want to remember. Lifelong Beatles/John fan Jenny Luna started the Lennon Lives celebration with a mixed bag last year. Dozens of local artists did their best to cover Lennon’s songs and, as is usually the case at events like this, some succeeded and some didn’t. This year, those paying tribute to John include the Rosedale Highs, Tera Ferna, lovelettertypewriter, Jeremiah Bredvad, Christina Quick and more. But this is more than just about music: the tribute fest is free, and all you need to get in is non-perishable food, a blanket, warm clothing and/or toys to benefit the needy, and stay until the end for the candle vigil. I didn’t know the man personally, but something tells me John would be OK with that.
When it comes to blues piano, nine-time Blues Music Awards-winner Marcia Ball is the full package: an exhilarating combination of Texas roots and Louisiana blues, a terrific song selection (as of late, mostly written or co-written by her) and solid albums (the latest of which, Roadside Attractions, earned her a fifth Grammy nomination). Born in Orange, TX, she grew up in Vinton, La., but moved to Austin by accident in 1970, when her car broke down on her way to San Francisco and she fell in love with the Lone Star capital. She’s at her best in a live setting and Sam’s is the perfect-sounding venue for her, so get close to the stage and bring your dancing shoes and your partner—the Queen of Boogie-Woogie can sing heart-melting ballads too. With Austin-based soul, pop and R&B diva Lauren Silva.
On display will be three of Gassiot’s sculptural video installations: Empty Crib, Every Bath, and Circadian Rhythm. Brooke Gassiot is a Texas native, currently based in Austin. Her work has recently been featured in the East Austin Studio Tour, and at the Art Car Museum (Houston, TX) and Red Arrow Contemporary (Dallas, TX). That same evening The Lullwood Studios will host a small works sale in honor of the holiday season—a great opportunity to pick up unique gifts and support your local art community.
San Antonio, TX 78215
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