Here at BSR, it’s hard to know what Dîner en Blanc camp we fall into. Do we hate it? Do we love it? Do we love to hate it? The more important issue at hand is that more than 42,000 people who hoped to don compulsory white (not ivory, not off-white, and, for goodness's sake, not beige) outfits now need something else to do.
Whether your snowy ensemble was ready to go and you couldn’t score an invitation or you gleefully boycott all things Dîner, there is so much to do in Philly on the night of Thursday, August 17, you almost have to feel sorry for the people who already paid $98 to carry their own table, chairs, settings, and food to eat at a strictly embargoed outdoor public location.
If you’re in the anti-Dîner tribe, you might enjoy taking your feelings to It Sounds Crazy, a standup comedy showcase at Chinatown’s Good Good Comedy Theatre. It’s hosted by the excellent Chanel Ali (who recently headlined comedy night at the Philadelphia Women’s Theatre Festival), a Philly native who’s taken her career to NYC. The August 17 lineup features Tyler Fischer, Michael Kelly, Dina Hashem, and Lamarr Todd. The show starts at 8:30, and at 10:00, there’s Get In, a weekly comedy showcase from Comedy Central’s John McKeever and Tim Butterly, Good Good founders Aaron Nevins and Kate Banford, and surprise guests. Both shows are just $5.
Onstage with PHIT Comedy over at the Adrienne is the weekly Sketch Riot performance. On August 17, the headliners are PHIT’s newest sketch house team, Fezziwig. The show runs 8:30 to 9:30pm.
If you want some summer jazz, nationally known saxophonist Michael Pedicin will play alongside bassist Mike Boone, drummer Anwar Marshall, and pianist Frank Strauss at Jazz in Hawthorne Park, thanks to Jazz Bridge’s Summer Concert Series. There’s no charge to bring your own picnic and the music starts at 7pm. Or you can catch the tunes at the Oval’s Summertime Thursday Jazz Series at Shakespeare Park from 5 to 6:30pm, promising “Philly’s newest jazz voices. Or get tickets for the Dell Music Center, where Sheila E, Dave Koz, and Larry Graham play a 7pm show (doors at 6pm).
The waterfront is always a nice place to stop on a summer night, and there’s music over there, too. Spruce Street Harbor Park has a Waterfront Sessions Live Music Series, with free shows every Thursday night from 6:30 to 9:30pm, and on August 17, you can hear Philly songster Jesse Hale Moore.
Dance and theater
In Center City, dance lovers can catch the August 17 performance of Koresh Dance Company’s Come Together Dance Festival at the Suzanne Roberts Theatre, with a happy hour starting at 6:30pm and curtain at 7:30pm. The night’s lineup includes Anne-Marie Mulgrew and Dancers Co., Brian Sanders’s JUNK, Koresh, SHARP Dance Company, and many more.
If you want a night at the theater, Theatre Exile's remount of Ray Didinger’s acclaimed Tommy and Me has a 7pm performance at FringeArts, with a post-show discussion hosted by Temple University basketball coach Fran Dunphy.
If you’re craving a family blockbuster, the new Beauty and the Beast comes to the Great Plaza at Penn’s Landing for its Screenings under the Stars series. The movie starts at about 8pm.
August 17 will also be a fascinating night of shorts at the Lightbox Film Center. Black Women’s Filmmaking in the 1970s will showcase six rarely screened 16mm films from four directors who “show women’s central role in the black filmmaking renaissance of the 1970s,” even though they’re often left out of the story today.
Featured films include Julie Dash’s 1977 Diary of an African Nun, starring Barbara O., and Jackie Shearer’s fact-based 1977 drama A Minor Altercation, about the implications of a fight between a white and an African-American schoolgirl in Boston. Fronza Woods’s 1979 Killing Time is an “offbeat, wryly humorous look at the dilemma of a would-be suicide unable to find the right outfit to die in, [examining the] personal habits, socialization, and complexities of life that keep us going.”
If the great Dîner en Blanc napkin flourish goes down without you, you just might be able to have a good night anyway.