5 Cool New York Events to Plan Your Trip Around

Jane Kratochvil / Shanghai Mermaid

Photo: Jane Kratochvil / Shanghai Mermaid

New York with its abundance of world class museums, fantastic restaurants and hip bars can be a little overwhelming. Cool, offbeat, secret and fun, our new “Romantic Weekend In” guide series aims to help you have a 21st century lovers’ weekend focusing on local tips and other lesser-known or secret insider things to do. There are many permanent places listed in our New York guide which you could visit at any time… but there are also some unique events that could add a little je ne sais quoi specialness to your NYC date night. Here is a little sneak peak at some of the events included or linked to the new Romantic Manhattan guide.

Jane Kratochvil / Shanghai Mermaid

Photo: Jane Kratochvil / Shanghai Mermaid

Shanghai Mermaid Speakeasy-Style Parties

You could be spending an evening out in New York at a regular bar or restaurant… or you could be attending the coolest party in town: Shanghai Mermaid. Now in their 9th year, Juliette Campbell’s glamorous monthly “underground cabarets” are inspired by the prohibition era’s grandes fêtes. In a private mansion, vintage riverboat or other unique venue you’ll be sipping artisanal cocktails amongst Great Gatsby-esque fellow partygoers and to the soundtrack of modern-day Josephine Bakers or Cole Porters. Throw in some special entertainment and surprises and you’ve got the recipe for a true party.

Each event has a theme such as the “Casino de Paris,” “Shanghai Express: Berlin” or the upcoming “Storyville Stomp!” which will be “a sexy romp through 1917 new orleans, filled with hot jazz, burlesque, aerial performance, and smokey, brothel blues.” Are you ready to stomp?

The parties are often held on Saturday evenings (10pm to 3am), however, the evening can vary and sometimes there are even two happenings per month, so be sure to check their schedule online. Tickets are +/- $45 which includes music and performance, but excludes any food and beverages which you may purchase on site (cash only). A strict dress code of very dressy vintage, formal attire, or at least very dressy cocktail attire is required, but dressing to the theme is certainly part of the fun!

Poetry Brothel New York

Photo: Poetry Brothel New York

The Poetry Brothel

On the right weekend you might be able to catch an instalment of the unique Poetry Brothel events. As you might gather from the name, these are not normal poetry nights. The thematic evenings are akin to a modern-day literary and artistic salon with entertainers, musicians, perhaps even fortune-tellers… and of course the stars of the evening, the “poetry whores.” Over the course of the evening these passionate wordsmiths will recite some of their work in front of the open crowd, then they are at attendees disposal for private reading in a secluded corner at a small additional price. We’ve attend their Paris events where we had one of the “whores” tickle our ears with his seductive prose, had our palms read and cheers to some crisp absinthe. More information in this lively interview of with the organizer of the Paris branch Alberto Rigettini.

Besides their own evenings, the NYC branch will be participating in the following upcoming events:

  • The Typewriter Project launch event on June 11, 2016 in McCarren Park (the typewriter installation will be in the park through June 24): In collaboration with NYC Parks, this is a series of site-specific literary installations which invite passersby to join in a citywide linguistic exchange that exists in both the analog and digital realms.
  • The 6th-Annual NYC Poetry Festival  which will be held July 30 – 31, 2016 on Governors Island, the festival is one of the largest and most inclusive poetry festivals in the world.
calamity chang

Photo: Calamity Chang

Burlesque Brunches & Bars

There’s brunch with eggs benedict and then there’s the brunch with feathers and gin served up in the Wasabassco burlesque show at Bathtub GinHidden behind “The Stone Street Coffee Company,” you’ll step back into the prohibition era at one of New York’s coolest speakeasy-style bars. The alluring decor is perfect for a romantic outing, and yes there’s even a vintage bathtub. One Sundays at 2:30 pm (and again in the evening at 8:30) you may find this tub filled, not with water but with the sparkle klad members of  Wasabassco. Deemed “ONE of the TOP 10 Best Burlesque Shows in the World” by the Travel Channel, this world renowned group of the top performers of the neo-burlesque scene will definitely provide some pimente to your outing with your chéri.  

One many nights of the week you can also catch the sultry Calamity Chang and her special guests at various bars around the city. The “Asian Sexsation,” has been called one of the  “20 Burlesque Stars To Know” by The Huffington Post and has taken her show around the world. You can enjoy her tasteful, sexy and titillating performances at one of our favorite venues every Friday night, find out where in the new guide.

X Plus One Improv Show

Photo: X Plus One

X Plus One Improv Theater Show

What would a trip to New York be without a little theater? But you don’t have to go see a glitzy musical to have the true essence of what really makes the city’s theater-scene tick: the spontaneous creativity of the thousands of actors we live here. This energy translates well through improv theater, so try to catch a performance of the quirky X Plus One Improv.

Produced by Rachel Scherer and directed by her husband Jeff (yes more couple love), X Plus One is a fully improvised 1940s sci-fi radio show. They strive to embody the era from the music to the costumes and language and have a rotating cast of incredibly talented performers—some of the top improvisers in the city. The show is held roughly once a month (with more frequency on the way) at The PIT, The People’s Improv Theater, so if you can’t make it to one of the X Plus One shows, they have an amazing lineup of daily day… plus a “Love Bar” where you can get a pre or post show drink. If you can’t catch X Plus One, Rachel shares her favorite other shows playing on weekends at the PIT in the Romantic Manhattan Guide.

Tatiana Eva-Marie and the Avalon Jazz Band

Tatiana Eva-Marie and the Avalon Jazz Band

A Tatiana Eva-Marie Concert

If you’re looking for some live jazz in New York, look no further than a concert of Tatiana Eva-Marie and her Avalon Jazz Band. Named “one of the finest rising jazz vocalists” by Vanity Fair, Tatiana Eva-Marie is a talented and charismatic artist. Born in Switzerland into a family of professional musicians, she started her career as a singer at age four which carried on through her childhood. At 16 years old, she moved to Paris, where she studied medieval poetry at the Sorbonne University. It was during this period that I first met Tatiana, who’d befriended the owner of the Canadian Abbey Bookshop (which features in my book) thanks to their mutual love for medieval dancing. While in Paris, she also performed as an actress and gypsy singer in some of the most renowned cabarets and theaters in France.

In 2011, Tatiana Eva-Marie moved to New York City, where she founded the Avalon Jazz Band and quickly set her American career in motion. You can listen to Tatiana and the Avalon Jazz Band at various venues throughout the city and even at some Shanghai Mermaid events. Check their calendar and sample their music hereIf you can’t make it to one of Tatiana’s concerts, she has another recommend on where to enjoy jazz listed in the new guide.

festival on the green

Bonus for Summer: Outdoor Cinema

I was going to include this in the guide but hesitated since it’s only on for a few months. Nevertheless, if you’d like to do something a little different and outside in the summer months, try to attend one of these film festivals. On most summer evenings Sunday through Wednesday you can pick up some popcorn and enjoy a classic film on the rooftop of the YOTEL during their Rooftop Cinemas nights. For the Francophiles out there, you can lean back in a lounge chair and watch some of the best French Films in city parks during the Films on the Green Festival. It takes place June on various dates June through September.

Happy romancing in Manhattan and don’t forget there are plenty more ideas showcased in the full version of the Romantic Weekend in Manhattan Guide. All you need to do is subscribe to my newsletter below to receive the link to the guide (more information on the guide here and feel free to contact us if you have any troubles accessing the guide once you’ve subscribed.

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