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Santa Parties On! 15 Things I Learned This Year At SantaCon.

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People love to show their Christmas cheer and party all through the holidays and the Dirty Southern Burners and friends are no exception! The Atlanta division of the Dirty Southern Burners held its 7th annual SantaCon event on Saturday, December 17th, in Atlanta’s Little Five Points neighborhood. This was a free pub crawl event and all legal drinking age adults were invited to attend. To simplify the rules – dress up in Santa style or in some holiday festive spirit; Santa is jolly, responsible, and gives gifts to the naughty and nice – so act the part; and don’t be an obnoxious drunken jerk. In the spirit of Christmas and Santa’s “Naughty & Nice” list, here’s my list of “15 Things I Learned This Year at My 2nd SantaCon.” (The list is in no particular order, so enjoy and Merry Christmas!)

1. Santas Are Really Freakin’ Jolly & Love To Party!
Hundreds of Santas were out “Spreading Their Red” this year. If a stranger/non-participant asked what you were doing or protesting, the response was always, “Nothing, Santa’s having a party!”

2. You Must Be Really Creative To Be A SantaCon Celebrity & Photo Op Rock Star.
I saw a Santa Grinch, ball-busting nutcrackers, “a major award” (the leg lamp from A Christmas Story), ghosts of Christmas past/present, steampunk & Victorian style Santas, Christmas trees, mischievous elves, a Kiss “Spaceman” (Ace Frehley) Santa, pretty reindeer ladies, a deranged clown Santa in a green bodysuit thing, and so many more.

3. The Santa Grinch Will ALWAYS Be More Popular Than You.
Accept it, this is just a fact.

4. Santas LOVE To Photobomb!
You know that jolly ol’ Saint Nick has never been known to shy away from a photo-op, so there will always be more Santas than you ever expected in every picture – it’s absolutely hilarious!

5. Even Jesus Loves SantaCon.
This should be obvious – who doesn’t love their own birthday? Jesus loves SantaCon and will “Tebow” if you ask him nicely. (“Tebow” or “Tebowing” is a move based on former University of Florida quarterback, Tim Tebow, who got down on one knee and start praying even when everyone else around him was doing something else. It’s such an Internet phenomenon that people created a website dedicated to showing people “tebowing” in different scenarios.)

6. There’s Always An Easy Out From Creepers.
SantaCon is like a force field of red and white camouflage that can help protect you against the creepers and pyschos of the bar scene. Case in point – non-Santa guy with creeper eyes walks up to me and starts rambling on about how beautiful I look. I had an instant SantaCon out – I looked over to a random group of Santas and he assumed that I had to go somewhere with my (new) friends. Thanks, Santa!!!

The pair of nutcracker soldier girls even ran off a few oddball dudes by threatening to crack their “nuts.”

Also, you are instantly exempt from giving out your name during SantaCon (it’s part of the long-standing SantaCon rules).
For example –
Guy: “So, what’s your name?”
Me: “Santa!”
Guy: “No really, what’s your real name?”
Me: “Santa!!!”

7. Writers & Other Literary Minded Lushes Love SantaCon.
The large number of conversations that I carried on about writing, books, getting published, rock ‘n’ roll and show reviews, and scholarly articles came as quite a shock to me. I guess “like attracts like” and we shared our experiences and creative endeavors with each other. I really loved this part of my 2011 Atlanta SantaCon experience!

8. Candy For Good Girls & Boys OR Condoms For Bad Boys & Girls.
If you don’t end up with a handful of candy and condoms at the end of SantaCon night, then you’re doing it wrong! Santas LOVE to reward the good girls and boys with candy, but bad boy and girls got condoms as gifts. Ho, Ho, Ho!!! Although, AIDS Atlanta reps leveled out this playing field by passing out condoms, lubes, and informational cards to both the good and bad players of SantaCon.

9. Saturday Night Clermont Lounge Dance Party.
I almost have no words for this one. Apparently on any given Saturday night, Atlanta’s favorite sketchy, sleazy Clermont Lounge turns into a packed out funk dance party. Don’t believe me? Go on a Saturday night and report back your findings. I’ve been twice this year and both times have yet to not startle me – it’s Atlanta’s own twilight zone of hot sweaty youth dancing it out in a smoke-filled, sticky bar/lounge.

10. No One Messes With Santa & Gets Away With It!
A Santa friend got yelled at, face scratched, and a drink thrown in her face at the Clermont Lounge by some random crazy woman. As soon as other women, bouncers, and patrons found out, it was like an angry swarming mob on a witch hunt. They helped my friend get taken care of and scoured the place for her assailant. Crazy drunk woman attacking Santa after last call at the bar – shame on you! I hope you get piles of coal in your disgusting stocking.

11. Santas Love The Sauce & Are Responsible Enough To Have Designated Drivers.
All the Santas I talked to were prepared to get sloshed, have a good time, and get home or to a resting place safely – they all had designated drivers! Way to go Santas!!! Now, I wonder how many woke up still in Santa garb the next morning….? Ha, Ha, Ha and Ho, Ho, Ho!

12. Newbie Santas Need To Learn The Ropes.
Ok, if this was your first SantaCon or you intend to go to a future SantaCon – first, learn the unspoken “rules” of SantaCon. Read them HERE! This is important because you don’t want to be THAT Santa. AND be sure to make or buy a costume, please don’t half-ass it with a hat or no costume/suit. I mean, come on – you can even buy Santa t-shirts online, add a Santa hat and be read to party! Another thing – remember to bring cash because this is a moving pub crawl event and the overworked bartenders don’t have time to keep track of and process your credit/debit cards. So, know what you want to order, have cash in hand (and in view of the bartender), look at the bartender, and wait for them to swoop in on you and your cash to take your order. Additional Atlanta SantaCon information can be found here

13. Santas Love To Sing Songs.
There are dirty SantaCon carols sung every year – they’re hilarious, so look ‘em up! If one Santa starts hooting and hollering, more Santas will definitely get in on the game.

14. Drunk Santas Are Lovers!
Ladies, make sure to guard your assets against a drunken game of pinch & squeal AND definitely watch out for mistletoe. Santas love to love you! If you’re wearing a short skirt or short dress, you better have ninja skills against male friends who think a good pinch of your bottom is cute and funny. I even had a strange Santa try to stroke my hair and thigh while I was having a conversation. So, again – Santas will try to love to love YOU! Be on guard. You’ve been warned!!

15. Santas Love Organized Chaos – Santa Sprawl!
Make sure to have a crew of two to three Santas that you are going to go to SantaCon with or meet up with because once the games are afoot, all bets on finding your friends are off. After the initial SantaCon meet up at the Vortex restaurant & bar and mega phone Santas start moving the pub crawl, there will be straggler Santas at each bar or ones who got ahead of the game because they wanted to grab a better spot at the bar. Even if you don’t want to follow the Santa pub crawl route, you can grab some friends, Santa up, mix and mingle at any bar in the area, and have a wildly stellar SantaCon experience.

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Art

Rain and Fire in Sedona

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Ange Alex

A rainy day in Sedona? What are we going to do. Everything we have planned is outdoors. I am pretty sure that is why people come to Sedona, for the beautiful OUTDOOR activities, like hiking, biking, Jeep tours, viewing the red rocks and photography. 

What to do, what to do.

Oh, I know. I had the privilege of meeting some great artists that work in fire and glass! The perfect indoor activity when your outdoor plans are washed away!

The Melting Point in Sedona, conveniently located across the street for the Whole Foods (two birds with one stone, yeah!), is a group of artist focusing on creating and teaching others how to create as well.

When we entered the facilities, it was like entering a fine arts gallery. So many beautiful works of glass art. Jordan Ford is the general manager and one of the Artists. He came out of the workshop and told us the rules, then brought us into the fold. 

We were about to become glass blowers! 

Jordan had a love for the natural world from a very early age. He went on to study geology in college but that is when he discovered glass. He currently has Bachelor’s Degrees in both Earth Science/Geology and Visual Arts/Glassblowing.

Jordan says , “It’s the process of blowing glass that drives me. I find the physical act of making glass so overwhelmingly fascinating. I approach most of my work with a consideration for the more classical techniques – it’s the framework that I use as a jumping point for experimentation.”

Not only is Jordan incredibly talented, he is really personable and extremely funny. He made everyone in the room feel at ease and we all often irrupted in bouts of laughter.

Another artist that was helping us is Austin Littenberg. Austin became interested in the art of glass blowing at age 16 after watching a documentary. He spent over 12 years developing his craft and learning the technical precision needed to work at this level.

Austin views the many ways Art presents itself and is in tune with it all, and it shows.

Clearly these two artist love what they do, and I for one am grateful for their expertise and their willingness to show the world their art.

They worked with us to create a beautiful cactus, complete with three flowers, one for each kid, and a Sedona rock like base. We loved the patience they showed and the skill to make us feel at ease. We never felt like  we were about to do something we just couldn’t. It felt like we had been doing this before. That is the measure of a true instructor. 

Our work of art was complete and we left there feeling accomplished and quite honestly, amazing! 

Both Austin and Jordan have remarkable skills but also wonderful comedic timing. They were a absolutely pleasure to meet and I look forward to keeping up with their art in the future.

If you find yourself in Sedona and want to meet some really wonderful people, stop by The Melting Point and say hello! While you’re there, blow some glass!

How could I forget one of them most important things; They have a studio dog! Austin brings his sweet baby girl to work with him and she is an angel! We loved her! Make sure you give her some love when you visit!

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Artists to Watch

Cry With Us! Puddles Pity Party in Orlando

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Ange Alex

I owe him a poem:

Here’s a story of a sad clown who one night in February was traveling through O-town. 

He brought a suitcase and a lot of gum, he brought music and videos and tons of fun.

He sang high but mostly he sang low, and he put of one hell of a good show.

He gave a bearded guy a cupcake and danced with a lady, a wolf he would make

There is no doubt he is a boss sir, he even got love from Kevin Costner.

Fans filled the plaza for a night of delight as the 7 foot clown gave us some real insight.

He sang Bowie and Queen and even some Who, also Cash, Lorde and “Let it go” too

Videos played of pets and babies crying, also beautiful artwork and people smiling.

Last night Orlando was anything but mad as we showed much love for a clown that is sad.

Ok, I’d cry too after that poem. Here’s some more info:

If you haven’t been to see a Puddles Pity Party show, you are missing out. 

The show had me smiling and laughing so hard my stomach hurt, but I was also moved so many times by the range of Puddles voice. True entertainment never gets old and I have a feeling he is going to last forever.

I loved the interaction he had with the crowd. He pulled numerous people up to help him on stage and all of them were good sports, one man even singing the entire song, “All by myself” karaoke style! The show was so well thought out and planned but with room for some hilarious improv. Especially at the end when he pulled the 3 fans from the audience dressed like clowns. At the end of them performing together, Puddles suddenly remembers that he is scared of clowns! Genius! 

Hands down one of the best performances I’ve seen in years.

 

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Dance

“20/20:Visionary”: Looking Back, Looking Forward

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Photograph by Charlie McCullers, courtesy of Atlanta Ballet.

Last weekend (March 18-20) the Atlanta Ballet gifted the city with “20/20: Visionary,” three pieces, including a world premiere, presented at the Cobb Energy Center.

The world premiere, “Playground,” by British choreographer Douglas Lee, belied its name by being a shadowy piece danced between upright, rolling chalkboard set pieces. Prepared for a lighthearted, joyful expression of childhood, I was surprised that the work instead exposed the darker side of childhood memories. There were some light moments, such as the towering billboard inscribed with multiple lines reading, “Jackie must remember the steps” – clearly a humorous aside about Jackie Nash, one of the most capable company members and perhaps the quickest study in rehearsal. There were some easily-seen choreographic devices–a lot of theme and variation, even more pushing around of set pieces–but there were a few exceptional moments as well, including intricate, slow-motion manipulation of a dancer’s body by another dancer.

Pen-Yu Chen & Tara Lee in “Boiling Point.” Photo by C McCullers, courtesy of Atlanta Ballet.

The opening work, “Boiling Point,” by Darrell Grand Moultrie, was playfully performed at breakneck speed. Dancers are often told to “make it look easy,” and the company took that concept to heart. Highlighted against the men in black costumes, the women wore bits of metallic fabric, providing splashes of intense color and exposing powerful bodies with long muscles. The piece began with the stage space open almost to its fullest, and the dancers running across like a rushing river. They rolled, twisted, turned, and slid like water itself. The choreography juxtaposed synchronicity with counterpoint, traditional with innovation. There was a gargouillade, rarely seen even in classical ballets. The lines of the bodies were critical to the piece, and often layers deep. The flow was almost nonstop, with only an occasional flick of a wrist or toss of a head to provide momentary stasis. The standout was Christian Clark, who sometimes nearly managed to integrate himself into the group but then something distinctive and powerful in his dancing drew the eye to him again.

“Red Clay” from “Home in 7.” Photo by C McCullers, courtesy of Atlanta Ballet.

“Home in 7,” a work by Amy Siewert, closed the concert. A portrait of Atlanta, the ballet was a rich tapestry woven from music, spoken word, and movement. Performed in 7 segments to a libretto written and performed by Marc Bamuthi Joseph and an intriguing, haunting string score composed and performed by Daniel Bernard Roumain, the dance, too, was a poem, shimmering like summer moonlight on the Chattahoochee. John Welker opened the ballet with tiny explosions of movement “Secrets.” Perhaps the most enchanting segment was “Home of the Braves:” 5 men using baseball imagery, holding their formation as they slid precisely between pitches and catches. “Red Clay” evoked August nights, intolerance, and redemption—Atlanta history, a story familiar to many. I first saw this ballet in 2011, and it has grown in depth as the dancers have matured technically and emotionally. Atlanta loves its ballet company, and never more than when it showcases its home city.

John McFall is ending his tenure with the company at the end of this season. For newcomers to Atlanta Ballet offerings, this will have been a dynamic performance. For long-time supporters, it will have been an opportunity to reflect on his legacy. There are a couple more opportunities to see the company under his watch, and then he will pass the torch to Gennadi Nedvigin, the company’s fourth artistic director. Stay tuned!

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