STEP UP AND DANCE: Bailey Dance Studio, an independent organization specializing in ballroom, swing and country dancing, will be holding the kickoff party for this weekend’s “Christmas in Dixie”, a three-day dance competition being held at the Birmingham Jefferson Convention Complex. The event will be host to some of the top professionals in the world of country-western and ballroom dancing, and you couldn’t ask for a more extensive line-up. There are so many competitions that you won’t be able to see them all, even if you spend the entire 35plus hours at the BJCC. At the end of the event on Sunday there will be an awards ceremony for the winners in Saturday’s categories. The Thursday kickoff party will start at 7 p.m. with a thirty minute two-step lesson. The official dance will begin at 8 p.m., and it is open to the public. Admission is $10, but there will be ice water, light snacks and other refreshments available throughout the night. Among the dance music mix for the evening are two-step and nightclub two-step, cha-cha, East and West Coast swing, line-dance, waltz and more. Many of the professional dancers participating in the competition will be present, if you need a little more incentive to check it out. Maybe what you spend on the kickoff party will be worth it and inspire you to attend the whole shebang. The Thursday party will extend until everyone feels they’ve adequately danced themselves out. The Friday and Saturday portions of the competition will go from 8 a.m.-10 p.m., while Sunday will go from 8 a.m.-5 p.m. Weekend passes to the event are $85, and more information about individual tickets and the like can be found by calling (404) 391-3229 or visiting www.christmasindixiedance.com.
COME CLOSER: Beta Pictoris Gallery just keeps the hits on coming. Right on the heels of their last show, John Bankston’s “Abstracticator”, which closed on the 4th, is John Field’s exhibition, “Dear Chuck: A Love Letter in Five Parts.” The whole showcase is a tribute to Chuck Close, an artist that specialized in Photorealism, before he changed his style due to an incapacitating spinal artery collapse. For those who don’t know, Photorealism was a movement in the 1960s and 70s that involved using cameras and photographs to create minute pieces of images that create one gigantic whole. In other words, if you stand really far back from the work, it looks normal. If you get really close, you can make out all the intricacies in the piece. Fields will be showing five paintings that play like parts of a letter to Close. He incorporates text into the pieces addressed to the artist, and his portraits are directly modeled after Close’s aesthetic. The opening reception for 2801 Fields 7th starts Avenue at 6 p.m., South and | Birmingham, if you can’t AL make it to the 205.202.4024 opening, it’ll | www.cafedeparis.us be up until January 15. For more lunch: information, 11am-2pm, visit dinner: 5pm-11pm www.mauscontemporary.com. sunday brunch: 10am-3pm
CHRISTMAS ROCKS: I don’t know if when Paul O’Neill decided to form the Trans-Siberian Orchestra, he knew that their renditions of Christmas songs would completely overshadow the rest of their work. I’ve never seen the orchestral act perform live before, but until recently I always thought they were a strictly holidays-oriented act. Turns out they’re just like any other hard rock/heavy metal outfit that incorporates full-on symphonic and classical arrangements into their music. You know, all six of them. The rock opera isn’t quite as popular as it once was, but the Trans-Siberian Orchestra proves it can still be a viable genre, especially when they involve songs people have been listening to for their entire lives. The group so far has released three Christmas rock operas (Christmas Eve and Other Stories, The Lost Christmas Eve and The Christmas Attic) and they’ve become a staple in their yearly touring schedule. Their Winter Tour became an annual happening a while back, and they’ve been riding that wave ever since. Their shows are known for how elaborate they are, complete with everything you’d want and expect from a rock opera: laser lights, pyrotechnics, video screens, and of course, a full orchestra. The result, I imagine, achieves grandiose nostalgia, something to which audiences wholeheartedly respond. They will be performing twice this Saturday at the arena in the Birmingham Jefferson Convention Complex, once at 3 p.m. and again at 8 p.m. Tickets range from $25-$57, depending on where your seats are. For more information, call (205) 458-8400 or visit www.bjcc.org.
HERE’S JOAN-Y!! Birmingham is one of those cities that’s large enough to have the occasional big name come to town, but not large enough to have one every night.While we’re not off the radar like Montgomery is, we’re certainly much further under than Atlanta. So while Joan River’s appearance this week at the Alys Stephens Center’s “Holiday Comedy Show” isn’t unprecedented, it’s still a big enough deal that the event isn’t limited to just a comedy show. She will be doing stand-up, yes, but that comes after the ASC’s “Bash the Holidays” Red Carpet Party, where audiences can milk the experience for all it’s worth. The pre-show party will feature its own red carpet, and give you a chance to show off your outfit, if you so wish. After the runway portion, there will be awards given out for Best and Worst Dressed, because no fashion show is complete without a little humiliation. Alys Stephens calls it an “anti-holiday” party. And hey, if you don’t think the red carpet pre-show is worth going to and you’re just in it for River’s endless witticisms, remember they’ve still got a cash bar with martini drink specials, and the (appropriately named) Martini Shakers will be playing some live music. It all starts at 5:30 p.m., before the show opener, Mick Lazinski, begins at 7 p.m. Rivers will start shortly after that. Tickets are separated into three seat sections for $45, $55, and $65, but students can get in for $20. The show will be taking place in ASC’s Jemison Concert Hall. For more information, call (205) 975-2787 or visit www.alysstephens.org.
SELLING SANTA: Recently, Bottletree has been making it more of a point to screen independent films, and I for one couldn’t be happier about it. If there’s one thing that Birmingham needs, well, it probably isn’t more movies, but it’s definitely somewhere on the list. Seriously, it’s criminal how few independent releases get to see the light of day in Alabama. If you’re not willing to drive to the Capri Theatre in Montgomery, then your best option is usually the Carmike 10 dollar theater off of Lorna Road, but even then you’re going to have to wait at least a month after it’s been released. Every once in a while the big theaters like the Carmike Summit or one of the Raves will get a low-budget film, but that’s only going to be if it’s during Oscar season, the one time of year audiences visit the multiplex for quality, albeit quality determined by the same bunch of old dudes every year. Anyway, it’s good to see movies like Rare Exports: A Christmas Tale get some play, even if it has to be at a café that’s usually serving food or live music. The film is about a group of archeologists who unearth Santa Clause in one of their digs. After he gets free and children start disappearing from their town, a father and son kidnap Santa and attempt to sell him back to a corporation that sponsored the archeologists. Try finding a synopsis like that in a Carmike theater. The film is presented as part of Theatre Downtown’s Rare and Used Film Series, and it starts at 7 p.m. Tickets are $10 if you buy them in advance, and $12 at the door. For more information, call (205) 705-3775 or visit www.thebottletree.com.
I DEMAND FREE NACHOS: Silvertron Café in Forest Park pride themselves on being one of the more affordable places to dine out, and they’ve certainly got more weekly specials than most restaurants. Every Sunday they hold a brunch with live acoustic music, and lately they’ve included that music during their Sunday nights, when they offer 1/2 price bottles of wine after 5 p.m. for tables with one customer who orders the lasagna. On the next night, they’ve got “Monday Night Pasta”, where all their pasta dishes drop down to $7.95, along with their prices on glasses and bottles of wine. The next night brings probably their most elaborate endeavor, an event called “Tex Mex Tuesday.” The real reason for this is the far-reaching margarita menu (including flavors ranging from Vitamin C, Cranberry and Raspberry to Pomegranate, Black Currant (with créme de cassis liquor) and Italian (with Amaretto Di Saronno), but the food menu is just about as comprehensive. Order one pitcher of margaritas and you’ll receive complimentary nachos, with jalapenos, black beans, sour cream and salsa. Other options include a taco salad, with your choice of chicken, steak, vegetables, or fish; and quesadillas, with your choice of cheese, chicken, beef, or spinach and feta cheese, served with salsa. Margaritas are $3 per glass and $9 per pitcher, while the food is anywhere between $5 and $10. “Tex Mex Tuesdays” start at 5 p.m., and continue until closing time. For more information, call (205) 591-3707 or visit www.silvertroncafe.us.
BRING YOUR BROGUE: We’re not short on holiday events this week, let alone this month, but at least some of the city’s venues are diversifying things a bit. This week, Moonlight on the Mountain will be holding “An Irish Christmas Celebration: Traditional Songs and Music of West Cork” with the Irish music trio Legacy and Irish singer Dr. Jim Flanagan. The show will include musical performances from both, with traditional tune sets from Ireland and some stories thrown in for good measure. The show starts at 7:30 p.m., and tickets will run you $15. For more information, visit www.moonlightonthemtn.com.
YOU’RE TOTALLY SGROOGED: If there’s one story you can expect to see during the holiday season, it’s The Christmas Carol. Seemingly every popular franchise has written their own rendition of Charles Dickens’ classic tale, and its moral is one we’ve been able to regurgitate since infancy. Nevertheless, the story remains a part of Christmas we wouldn’t be able to do without. Next Thursday, the Virginia Samford Theatre continues the tradition with their adaptation, Scrooge: The Musical. The title says it all, really. If you’ve ever hankered for Scrooge to sing and dance with his helpful ghost friends, you’re in luck. The play will run through December 19 on the Virginia Samford Theatre Mainstage. Shows run at 7:30 p.m. on Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays; and at 2:30 p.m. on Sundays. Tickets are $30 for adults, $25 for seniors and $15 for students. For more information, call (205) 251-1206 or visit www.virginiasamfordtheatre.org.