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Archive for the ‘South Philly’ Category

On a recent Saturday, my date and I went to the Philadelphia Flea Market held that weekend in Headhouse Square, near the east end of South Street. Dozens of vendors were crowded under the covered walkway between Lombard and Spruce, spilling out onto the sidewalk on both sides.

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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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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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The bowling date is a classic, and one of my personal favorites. While not generally recommended for a first date (it can be a bit stilted trying to get to know someone in alternating 30 second increments while the pins reset) it is great for a group date, or for couples who enjoy a little friendly competition every now and again. “Social bowling” has experienced a resurgence in popularity recently, giving rise to slick and cavernous enterprises which seem to cater to large parties or corporate events, complete with fancy finger food, flashing lights, and frenetic music. That’s fine, but for a date it can be a little overwhelming, not to mention expensive. That’s why I was so thrilled to discover PEP Bowl at 1200 Broad street in South Philly. Small and laid-back, this six-lane establishment opened in 2009, but dates back to the 1950’s and maintains a retro-ambiance that is both winning and romantic in its charm. At the same time, its scoring mechanism, lanes, shoes and equipment are all modern and well-maintained, guaranteed to satisfy even the most serious of recreational bowlers. It’s also 100% handicapped accessible.

How cheap we talkin’: $3.50 per game per person and $3.00 shoe rental. Tuesdays they do one better, with $2.50 shoe rental and games from 5-11pm. And it’s BYO!

Why this will impress your date: At PEP, you are also bowling for a good cause. Patronage of PEP Bowl helps support PEP’s mission to provide education, recreation, vocational training, and job placement services to people with disabilities.

Score extra points: By throwing a gutter ball at least once. Now that may seem counter-intuitive, but it depends what kind of points you are really trying to score.

The Inside Game: Because there are only 6 lanes, it’s a good idea to call ahead and reserve one. 215 952-BOWL.

Next Date: Anytime! Well, almost. Lanes are reserved some early evenings for league play hours. Check here for the complete schedule, and here for special deals.

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My date’s stats:

 Blog: Claire Folkman: A Web Comic

Age: Started blogging in September 2008.

Likes: Beef, noodle soup, word bubbles, young love.

Dislikes: Superheros.

Little Known Fact: Ms. Folkman is a vociferous reader of dime-store romance novels.  She likes them for the happy endings.

Favorite Cheap Date:  Free Student Recitals at the Curtis Institute

Claire Folkman is a self-described mid-twenties art hipster who writes an autobiographical comic about a mid-twenties art hipster named Claire Folkman.  But that is by no means all.  She is also a conceptual artist, a memoir comic web-blogger, and a most charming date. She has an art show coming up May 6-July 7, 2011 at the DCCA in Wilmington (accessible by SEPTA!) featuring her captivating video work that transforms life’s absurdities into one profound comic strip (or transforms life’s profundities into one absurd comic strip). Meanwhile her blog contains wry and insightful comics, reflections on art school classes and critiques, and musings on everything from the best drawing markers to babysitting to Lady Gaga.  It is updated (usually) on Wednesdays, and definitely worth following.

As for our date, when Claire told me she would take me to the Philly Comix Jam – a monthly gathering of comic enthusiasts that meet at Manny Brown’s on South Street to draw together – well, I was nervous. I mean, this seemed about as intimidating as being brought to a party by a first date to meet twenty or so of their best friends. But as it turned out, I was silly to worry. Everyone at the Comix Jam welcomed me with open arms and assured me that I needed no more drawing skills than a third grader to participate and have a good time. And it turns out they were totally right.

How cheap we talkin’:  The Comix Jam is FREE, and Corona and Dos Equix are $2.50 until midnight.

Why this will impress your date: Not all comics are about Superheroes. Memoir comics are about feelings, too. Plus, no one is going to stop you if you just want to sit and draw hearts around your date’s name all night long.

Score Extra Points: By stopping for a bite first at nearby Tattooed Mom’s.  $1 beef or bean tacos plus half-off all draft beer every Tuesday until 10pm!

The Inside Game:  Don’t forget, it’s BYOP.  (That’s Bring Your Own Pens/Pencils).

Next Date: Tuesday, March 29, 2011! Otherwise, mark your calendar for every third Tuesday at 8pm. Click here for more info.

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First Oriental is a full-service grocery store at 6th and Washington streets, but in addition to its wide selection of ordinary foodstuffs, it also stocks tons of fascinating products that you can’t find in the average supermarket: lychee, jackfruit and other exotic produce, every kind of rice and noodle imaginable, an entire aisle of imported candies and cookies, quail eggs by the dozen, vats of seaweed crusted with salt, tripe, pig’s feet, frogs, eels, frozen fish (whole), and dozens of varieties of dumplings, fish balls, gyoza, and shumai.  In other words, it makes shopping for a dinner date into an adventure of its own.

How cheap we talkin’: $10-$15 per person.   Our total came to roughly $20, which included frozen dumplings, ingredients for noodle soup, and dessert.

Why this will impress your date: Did I mention the live frogs?

The Inside Game: Buy at least one thing you’ve never seen/eaten/cooked with before. Part of the fun is buying whatever looks intriguing, and making a meal out of it.

Score Extra Points: By carrying the groceries.

Next date: Anytime.

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Come summertime, it seems like every Philadelphia neighborhood throws down block party style with a neighborhood festival or street fair.  Providing a full day of live music to listen to, vendors’ wares to peruse, yummy treats to try, and in most cases, green space to camp out on, these events make great dates because there’s a lot to see, a lot to do, and a little something for everybody.

How cheap we talkin’: FREE plus the (optional) cost of food, which could be very little, but could run you up to the budget if you decide you just have to get ice cream, and kettle corn, and funnel cake…

Why this will impress your date: Because you also look good in daylight.

The Inside Game: Bring your own water.  Bottled water will be overpriced, and you could spend your whole day in line for it.  Also, take public transportation or walk if you can – parking at and around these festivals can be a huge hassle.

Score Extra Points: Meet up with your friends or your date’s friends and make some introductions.  These kinds of events are a great, low-key way to casually see how your date mingles with a crowd.  Or, more specifically, with your crowd.

Next date: There are festivals all year long!  I will continue to update this post as I hear about more festivals, so check back!  In the meantime, mark your (2010) calendar for:

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