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Archive for the ‘Live Entertainment’ Category

Last year, I recommended going to one of Philly’s many street fairs and festivals, as a great cheap date idea: There’s (usually) no cost for entry, there’s (almost always) live music or entertainment to enjoy, and there’s lots of cool stuff to look at and fun foods to try! Of course, if you don’t want to spend date money at the food stands you can always bring your own and dine picnic style – and bringing your own water anyway is a smart (and cost-saving) move.

In short, Philly’s festivals come in all shapes and sizes, and they are a great opportunity to venture out to a different park or neighborhood, mingle with a new crowd, get some sun and some exercise, see some great live music, meet up with friends, or just enjoy the company of your date.

Penn Landing's Great Plaza

Like last year, I’ve again compiled a list of upcoming street fairs and festivals for your next cheap date! As you can see, there is definitely something for everyone this summer! Mark your (2011) calendars for:

Keep checking back for updates and additions! And for a list of ALL festivals (including those with entry fees above $15, film fests, and events taking place in the greater Philadelphia area, check out this awesome festival roster from Visit Philly!

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Lining up for $1 treats!

Once a month, starting tonight, June 2nd, take your date and a fistfull of dollars to Baltimore Avenue in West Philadelphia for the second (now) annual Dollar Stroll!

Featuring live music, street performers, sidewalk vendors and $1 deals on everything from ice cream to samosas to theater tickets, it’s going to be hard to find more bang for your buck anywhere in the city tonight.

This event turns Baltimore Avenue into a delightful open-air parade of sights, smells, and sounds, but as I learned last year, the lines do get long.  My advice for making it a great date: go early (the event runs from 5:30-8:30pm), don’t try to hit every venue, and use this handy vendor list to plan your route!

Note: If you miss tonight’s stroll, there are 3 more this season. Pencil in your next date for July 7th, August 4th, or September 1st!

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On the first Friday of every month, Philadelphia’s art galleries stay open late and welcome everyone — from casual passerby to serious collectors — to come in and peruse their current curations.  The aptly dubbed “First Friday” has been happening, rain or shine, since 1991, and has become one of the city’s most visible and popular events.  Although historically focused on the 40+ galleries between Front and Vine and Market and 3rd streets in Old City, First Friday open houses are now hosted by galleries all over the city, from Space 1026 in Chinatown to the Projects Gallery in Northern Liberties to Highwire in Fishtown.  The best thing about this expansion is that, even though every First Friday shares the same core elements, depending on who’s showing what where, you can have a radically different experience every single time.

How cheap we talkin’: FREE!

Why this will impress your date: Because you can show you are as comfortable around refined oil portraits as you are around avante-garde video art.  This is a good thing, I promise.

The Inside Game: If you want to know who’s showing where, need to plan a route, or find galleries in a particular neighborhood, there are a lot of great resources for planning ahead, like this linked list of Philly art galleries.  Another great resource is Phrequency’s “DIY First Friday” list, conveniently organized by neighborhood. The Philadelphia Weekly also shares its pick of noteworthy exhibitions each month in its Arts and Culture section.

Score Extra Points: By doing a little homework before hand (see above) and then leading the way. Strolling from gallery to gallery is perfect for hand-holding.

Next date: Friday April 1, 2011! And then the first Friday of every month, all year round (approximately 5-9pm).

Keep reading for highlights from First Fridays past, and where to find the galleries that still have free booze!

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Bob & Barbara’s, located at 1509 South Street, is not only a classic dive bar, but practically a Philadelphia historic landmark. If you haven’t been there yet, chances are you’ve at least heard of it, and if you’re the one introducing your date to Bob and Barbara’s for the first time, it’s going to be a date to remember. With walls heavy with vintage Pabst’s Blue Ribbon beer paraphernalia, a rowdy bar, and a venerable jazz tradition going back over twenty years, weekends at Bob and Barbara’s may feel more like a rite of passage than a date.  For example, a PBR pounder and shot of Jim Bean might not be the classiest of choices on most dates, but at Bob and Barbara’s it’s just what you order – every time.  It’s also a great spot for a group date, as my cohort discovered on a recent Friday night.

How cheap we talkin’: Entry is FREE! The “special” (a PBR and shot of Jim Beam) is only $3. Don’t call it the Citywide. It’s just the special here. (And no judgment, but if this is a first date, I recommend sticking to one per person).

Why this will impress your date: The musicians, the musicians, the musicians. Utterly unfazed by any of the nonsense that occurs in a packed bar with cheap drinks, these guys are the real deal. Fridays and Saturdays they play more of a familiar jazz repertoire, while Sundays they host a jam session.

The Inside Game: Bob and Barbara’s can pretty crowded, so getting served can take awhile.  If you’re getting your date a drink, go together to the bar so you can still chat.  Otherwise, make sure your date is comfortable with what could be a long wait for your return!

Score Extra Points: By treating your date to a late-night snack. The night we were there the guys from Coup de Taco were set up in a corner dishing up their inventive, non-traditional taco combinations like Sweet Thai chicken with peanut sauce, pulled pork, or castro-style rice and beans with Sofrito sauce, $3.50 each or two for $6.  Between specials, it really hit the spot.

Next Date: Friday, Saturday, or Sunday!

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Meg poses with a Santa we encountered at Suburban Station

My date’s stats:

 Blog: PhilaDate — Hot Spots for Great Dates in Illadel!

Age: Started blogging in October 2010.

Likes: Walking the city, singing, jazz and blues, and being the go-to source for her friends (especially her guy friends) for date ideas sure to impress the ladies.

Dislikes: Negative Feedback. (Who doesn’t?)

Little Known Fact: Also writes Songs That Won’t Make You Vomit, where she details the ups and downs of her dating life as it relates to, and reminds her of favorite songs.

Favorite Cheap Date:  Brunch at Fitzwater Café.

Meg Mirzoff is a 27 year old “self proclaimed dating pro” and the author of PhilaDate, a relatively new (October 2010) blog that highlights fun date spots culled from Meg’s own extensive experience with both dating and Philadelphia. A lifelong area resident, her twitter profile quips positively that “Philly is a hotbed for the singles… you just gotta put yourself out there!” And that is exactly what Meg did when she agreed to meet me for a blind date after I pitched my I’m Seeing Other Blogs idea to her via email.

Of course, as soon as we met I realized that Meg really never had a moment’s hesitation – a spirit of adventure is just a part of who she is.  Outgoing and enthusiastic, her fun-loving personality comes across in her blog as well.  For example, for a date with “heat” she recommends following a meal of tacos with a night out dancing at a salsa club, and she isn’t afraid of proposing ideas for a 24-hour long date (for some “serious” quality time).

Her idea for our Cheap Date was equally adventuresome: an afternoon Busker-hunting in and around Suburban Station, followed by drinks at Village Whiskey.  For those that don’t know (I didn’t), “Busking” is the act of performing in public while soliciting tips or gratuities (i.e. passing the hat).  Those engaged in Busking are called “Buskers,” also known as street performers, street musicians, minstrels, or troubadours.  I’ve passed by countless such performers before − on South Street, in Rittenhouse, and in the subway stations – but it hadn’t occurred to me that intentionally seeking out these performances could make for a highly entertaining afternoon and a great cheap date.

How cheap we talkin’:  $1-5 in tips for the Buskers; Approx. $6 for a beer at Village Whiskey.

Why this will impress your date: Not only does Busking have a long history dating back to at least the 1860’s, but today’s Buskers have their own culture involving unspoken but understood rules and customs about who gets to play when, and where.

Score Extra Points: By ordering tater tots to share at Village Whiskey. They are only $3 and they are delicious.

The Inside Game: All Buskers are entertainers, but not all are equally entertaining. For a nice profile of various Philly Buskers and their stomping grounds, check out this article from Penn music blog God Save the Beat, or this blog by local Busker David Richenbacher.  

Next Date: Anytime! But Saturday and Sunday afternoons are a pretty safe bet at Suburban Station, as well as early evenings weeknights (rush hour).

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Traditions are what make holidays special.  (They can play a pretty big part in relationships, too). There is probably no holiday ritual more iconic in Philadelphia than the John Wanamaker (now Macy’s) Christmas Light Show. Since 1955, this dazzling display of lights and music (with narration by the equally iconic Julie Andrews) has delighted children and adults alike. At least it delighted my date and I (two consenting adults) when we went to see it together last week. Add to the experience two thick and decadent hot chocolates from nearby Naked Chocolate (which we surreptitiously spiked with shots of liquor) and this was a holiday date worth making a tradition.

How cheap we talkin’: The light show is FREE! An “Indulgent” sized hot chocolate at Naked Chocolate is $5.00.  A single-serving shot of liquor (optional) is $2-3. (We used 3).

Why this will impress your date:  Because nothing beats feeling like a kid again. Except feeling like a kid who’s snuck into the liquor cabinet.

The Inside Game: Up the decadence factor by getting your chocolate “European style.”  Trust me, you won’t be disappointed (but your personal trainer might). 

Score Extra Points: By planning your visit to coincide with one of the daily concerts on the famous Wanamaker organ (it’s one of the largest working organs in the world). View the full schedule here.

Next Date:  The 2010 Christmas Light Show runs every hour on the hour, 10am to 8pm, from the day after Thanksgiving through New Year’s Eve day.

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Did you know that one of the world’s leading music conservatories is located in Philadelphia, and that their uber-talented students showcase their talents every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday evening throughout the school year at recitals that are free and open to the public? Neither did I, until I went on a date there a few weeks ago.

The students are from the prestigious Curtis Institute of Music, and their recitals are performed an intimate 240-person auditorium (Field Concert Hall) (handicapped accessible) located in the Institute’s “main building” – a gorgeously preserved 19th century mansion located at 1726 Locust Street, near the south-east corner of Rittenhouse Square park.  

My date and I dressed up special for the occasion (think fine wool suit, cufflinks, swishy dress, pointy heels) and met for a pre-concert drink at the swanky Bar 210 at Lacroix across the park.  The location was certainly convenient, and their happy-hour (5-7pm) of half-priced cocktails ($6 instead of the usual $12) is a great deal, but the ambience was a little sedate.  Next time I’d go to Fish instead.  Located a few blocks away at 1708 Lombard streed, Fish has an intimate bar that overlooks their open kitchen, filling the small space with the sights and sounds of the chefs at work, a nice prelude (and contrast) to the sights and sounds to be enjoyed at the concert hall afterwards.

How cheap we talkin’:  The recitals are FREE! Happy hour drinks and/or snacks, $7-$15 (with tax/tip).

Why this will impress your date:  Watching these amazingly able child-prodigies perform will impress anybody.  And your date will appreciate you for being the kind of person who would think of such a nice way to spend an evening together, despite your having only average musical abilities.

The Inside Game:  Make sure to get the the concert at least 10-15 minutes early to secure a seat. The recitals start promptly at 8pm (they won’t let you walk in once it’s started) and the auditorium is filled on a first-come, first-seated basis. But even if the recital does reach capacity you can still watch the live feed on a flat-screen television in the lobby.

Score Extra Points:  By remembering to sneak in a water bottle.

Next Date: Student recitals are at 8pm (almost) every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday evening from October 11 through May.  Have a favorite composer? Check the schedule to see who’s playing, as well as what pieces/instruments.

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