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Off Key: Phoenix has risen

 by Ben Horowitz
 published on Thursday, February 9, 2006


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As another weekend approaches, people will again lament what they see as an unchanging fact. "There's nothing to do in the Valley!" they'll cry, as they rush out to their favorite bar. They'll talk about how much better things would be if they were in New York or Los Angeles.

In the meantime, dozens of concerts will be left with dismal attendance numbers and lecturers will speak to half-filled halls.

The most obvious example of this happens on the first Friday of every month, when downtown Phoenix is flooded with thousands of people. All of them progress in a steady stream through the largest art walk in the United States, with galleries everywhere opening their doors and street vendors selling their wares.

This decade-old tradition reveals a vibrant community of artistic minds who call the Valley their home. Everything from jewelry, to landscape photography, to abstract paintings is absolutely free to observe for any curious passerby.

The galleries don't go away after First Friday. Trunk Space, for example, has something interesting going on nearly every night, from book reports to improvisational theater and musical performances. Modified Arts offers not only a place for visual artists to show their work and for musicians to perform, but also hosts a night of cinema at least once a month.

Other venues like Four White Walls, the Paper Heart Gallery and the Phix also double as art galleries and performance spaces for dozens of musicians any given night of the week. These performances are often less expensive to attend than a dinner at Chili's.

If downtown Phoenix is too far away, you don't even have to leave campus to find something interesting going down. Our illustrious "party school" offers greater feats of merit than keg stands, and is home to artists more skilled than beer pong champions.

Checking out the dance majors' performances for the cost of a student ticket is a perk of attending school here many students will never take advantage of.

If you're interested in theater, there's always something going on -- just search for the Empty Space Theater or the Herberger College on ASU's website.

Similarly, the art museum we have on campus gets national acclaim for its exhibits, and admission is always free. It's close enough to walk to during your lunch breaks, tucked away neatly on the University's western border with Mill Avenue.

In addition, there are too many bands in the Valley to even mention in a single column. The response to our requests for local music is almost overwhelming -- though we're always looking for more, so e-mail us about your favorites.

ASU also has a growing population of poets. Last month, some of them performed at the Einstein's Bagels in the Memorial Union. This month they'll take the stage again, hosting an open mic night, beginning what will hopefully become a regular showcase of some of ASU's talent on the third Thursday of every month.

Every night, dozens of voices call out across the Valley in unison, saying that this city's nightlife is far from stagnant. The complaint in 2006 should be, "I can't decide where to go tonight -- there are too many options!"

Reach the reporter at benjamin.horowitz@asu.edu.



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