After some plans fell through this weekend, a couple of friends and I scrambled around looking for an interesting and unique activity at the last minute. I spent some time searching the internet and found two events that looked fun enough to try. They were in opposite directions in the city, of course; one was in Times Square, the other in Downtown Brooklyn. The first thing I wanted to check out was at Bar Catalonia, the bar in the Equity Point Hotel on 41st Street and 7th Avenue. While Times Square on a weekend night is usually the last place a native New Yorker would probably want to hang out, this event looked interesting enough to entice me. It’s normally a bar (with several craft beers on tap), as well as a gallery, and on this particular night they were hosting an event called DES:ART. While the main exhibit was a show called “Ordered Chaos” that consisted of paintings by the artist Erica Geralds, they also offered dishes of free ice cream by SoCo Creamery as a dual promotion. They are a small ice cream company based in Great Barrington, Massachusetts. Fun Fact: SoCo stands for South County, as in the south side of Berkshire County, where I went to school. We were big fans of SoCo so I was very excited to see it promoted in connection with this event. There was also a swimwear show with some clothing racks in the back that you could peruse at your leisure. The ice cream was free, but for $5 or $7 they would mix it with alcohol to create one of their custom floats. I sampled The Black Raz containing chocolate ice cream, raspberry liqueur and sprite. It was fizzy and fruity with hints of chocolate.

As I arrived and turned the corner onto 41st street, a long line was gathering by the entrance to what I assumed was the Bar Catalonia. For a split second I debated calling my friend (and colleague), Agnes, who was planning to meet me there, so that we might discuss rerouting our plans straight to Brooklyn. This was until I got to the door and realized the line was for the show “Newsies,” which was playing next door, so I was able to walk straight into Catalonia. I’m not sure what type of promotion they had done…I found it through a friend’s Facebook event a few of hours before and the place was decently full, but certainly not packed. The funniest thing to me was the demographic of the guests of DES:ART. There was no common age or gender to link these people together. As I stood waiting for my drink at the bar, this very overweight older woman with a cane tapped my side and asked me to hand her a dish of chocolate ice cream and a spoon. It was still a bar giving out beer and ice cream, after all, and was certainly inhabited by the usual 20- and 30-somethings. It’s just not every day I’m in a bar in line for the bathroom behind a couple that look like they could be my grandparents. This is not meant negatively…It’s simply an observation. Good for them, enjoying a night out on the town!

After we had finished our drinks, we rendezvoused with another friend of mine who was planning to head to event #2 with us and we hopped on the A train to Brooklyn’s Grove Alley. Once called the “Worst street in Brooklyn,” it is now being marketed by event organizers Downtown Brooklyn Partnership and the Gowanus Nite Market as a lively and artsy community street. We turned the corner into the Grove Alley Nite Market to find several food trucks lining the street along with DJ Joro Boro playing music for a massive dance party that took up most of the narrow alley. Next, we found several craft tables, including one that was sponsored by Recycle-A-Bicycle, where you could make your own key chain or bracelet out of a recycled bicycle chain. Recycle-A-Bicycle is a group that teaches at-risk high school students how to repair bikes as a way to learn a marketable skill, as well as give them internships and sometimes jobs in their stores to get them headed for success. In addition to some local artists who were displaying their work, there were several types of Brooklyn Beer for sale as well as a giant wall that was covered in chalk, just waiting to be further decorated. There was also a table with pieces of cut-up wood just sitting off to the side. We thought this weird until we ventured to the back of the party area to find a community craft project that we were encouraged to add to: a wooden dinosaur. It doesn’t seem like drinking and power tools should normally mix, but who am I to say? You were free to cut a piece of wood on your own or wait for someone to discard a piece before placing it anywhere on the so-called “dinosaur”, thereby adding your own unique touch.

I thought the entire idea for the event was amazing and it really inspired me to organize a community get-together or block party type of thing of my own. I hope this was just the first of many they have in Grove Alley.

By Jasmin Stanley

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“You’re so not cool. All you post is photos of stuff you ate, your friends’ weddings and maybe something cool someone in your family did – like when your brother graduated” – Parker, age 13