Thursday, December 29, 2011
First Night Monterey isn’t the last party of the year – other venues stretch deeper into the night. Alcohol isn’t permitted, so it might not qualify as the most raging party. So how does First Night Monterey claim the title as of the county’s best of the year? Let us count down the ways…
5. It’s the big kid on the block – or, blocks. The 19-year-old party springs 75 performances by 200 artists in 20-plus venues.
4. It starts with a bang. Any party that begins with a bubble wrap stomp has the right attitude. But at the same time, near Colton Hall, taiko drummers beat the heck out of Japanese drums, the Carmel River School dance crew shakes their noisemakers, and the Junkman pounds recycled cans and found metal objects.
3. It’s as diverse as the Monterey Institute of International Studies up the street. West African percussion, African-American blues, nerdy hip-hop, Mexican folklorico dancing, Celtic Gold Rush music, big band brass, experimental noise music, Greek dancers, Americana folk, Middle Eastern bellydance, early European choral singers. And we haven’t even gotten to the international palette of ethnic food vendors that will line Alvarado. And check out this crazy, diverse finish: the blues crew of John “Broadway” Tucker, the Brazilian maniacal music of Sambahemians, and the innovative pounding music of Junkman, all jamming together.
2. “Art” is a part of its mission statement. Specifically, “… to bring families together and unite our community in all its diversity through the visual and performing arts.” That means everything from self-made kids’ art, to open doors at Monterey Museum of Art and Museum of Monterey (try not to confuse the two), the Arts Council for Monterey County’s Mi Planeta, First Night’s Art is the Next Peace, CSUMB’s First Night Film Series, Monterey Bay Lion Dance Team, and so on.
1. It’s affordable, inclusive, broad, volunteer, nonprofit – meaning everyone’s invited. Clip out this schedule, but supplement it with the online official program, which describes each performance and happening and has transportation options, at www.FirstNightMonterey.org.
FIRST NIGHT MONTEREY takes place 3pm-midnight Saturday at locations throughout downtown Monterey. $20/admission button for 16 and older through Dec. 30; $22/admission button for 16 and older on Dec. 31; $12/admission button for 6-15 year-olds through Dec. 30; $15/admission button for 6-15 year-olds on Dec. 31; free/child 5 and under; family button specials available. 373-4478.