20 Awesome Things to Do in Dallas This Weekend, September 17-20

Twyla Tharp kicks off an anniversary tour in Dallas this weekend.
Twyla Tharp kicks off an anniversary tour in Dallas this weekend.
Courtesy ATTPAC

If you didn't buy tickets to see Garth Brooks, and you aren't going to spend the weekend in your basement making clocks, then we've assembled this list of awesome things to do in Dallas this weekend just for you. 

Thursday, September 17

331/3 Party
Vinyl used to be the cheapest hobby: you could spend hours thumbing through dusty old boxes and come out with some vintage Dylan and jazz standards for a just a few bucks. Somewhere along the way, though, vinyl got expensive. Record labels and purveyors of used albums realized that there was a reinvigorated market for the format, and have jacked up prices accordingly. Hence, new pressings are upward of $20; scratched up copies of Prince’s “Purple Rain” are $8; and mint condition Art Blakey’s Jazz Messengers albums are through the roof. To many collectors, it’s worth it for the experience and the particular sound quality—but then again, to some, it’s taken a bite out of their purchasing habits. Whichever camp you fall into, the Dallas Public Library has something that will really get your turntable spinning: from 6:30 until 8:30 p.m. Thursday the J. Erik Jonsson Central Library, 1515 Young Street, will sell of somewhere between 3000 and 6000 pieces of its sizable vinyl collection for $2 a piece. Their 33 1/3 Party, in celebration of the library’s thirty-third birthday, will be held on the fourth floor of the building and will feature a selection heavy on the classical stuff, but with a pretty good helping of jazz and pop gems mixed in, too. All proceeds go back to the library: visit dallaslibrary2.org for more. - Jennifer Davis-Lamm

Charitable events such as the 6th Annual Foodiepaolooza just make it too darn easy to simply be selfless. We all get on that philanthropic kick when we sincerely (for the most part) want to give of our time, talents, or most importantly, money, to a worthy cause so as to contribute to something that’s bigger than our personal reality TV-filled bubbles. But at 7 p.m. Thursday at 7 for Parties (150 Turtle Creek Blvd #107), people will give and support the Boys and Girls Clubs of East Dallas, but in return, attendees will be rewarded for their $65 ticket with great food, cocktails, and star-studded company in the form of Dallas’ culinary lightning rod, John Tesar of Knife. There’ll be a silent auction packed full of enviable prizes, so you’ll have to just accept that some good deeds will never go unrewarded. More at bgcdallas.org. -Kelly Dearmore

Lazers of Sexcellence 
Amber Tamblyn, perhaps best known for her role in Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants, and Austin-based poet Derrick Brown roar through town tonight for a reading that's more like a party at Wild Detectives. It's a two-for-one special because their visit is part of Wordspace's season launch party. Stop by at 7 p.m. Thursday. More at thewildetectives.com.

King Lear
It’s time to get tragic, Dallas: Shakespeare Dallas takes things in a decidedly dark direction for its fall season of Shakespeare in the Park with the bleak but brilliant King Lear. Spread out a picnic blanket and prepare yourself for the larger-than-life tale of literature’s most spoiled brats and the havoc they create kingdom-wide when they betray their put-upon dad, the titular Lear. There’s little that’s heart-warming about this exploration of pretty jacked up father-daughter relationships, but hey—there are suicide attempts, capital punishments, and eye-gougings aplenty beginning with performances at Samuell Grand Amphitheatre, 1500 Tenison Parkway, at 8 p.m. Wednesdays through Sundays, from September 16 through September 25. The series picks back up on Thursday, October 1 and continues through October 11 at Addison Circle Park, 15650 Addison Road. Tickets are $10 to $15 at shakespearedallas.org. -JDL

The Mountaintop
In an intimate and moving performance at Dee and Charles Wyly Theatre (2400 Flora St.), the Broadway hit Mountaintop explores Martin Luther King Jr.’s last thoughts and emotions racing through his mind and heart before being assassinated. This production presents King as a raw human man while also exploring the cost of society’s contributions and legacy everyone leaves behind. It was the 2010 winner of Britain’s Oliver Award for Best New Play and you can see it at 7:30 p.m. Thursday or through Nov. 15. It contains mature themes and language. Tickets start at $18 and for more information, call 214-954-9925. - Paige Skinner

Don’t have lederhosen or a dirndl? Don’t worry, they’re not prerequisites for admission to 2015’s Addison Oktoberfest,Thursdaythrough Sunday at Addison Circle Park, 4970 Addison Circle in Addison. Of course, should you DIY with some suspenders on your jorts or culottes before signing up for the German spelling bee, just know that Addison touts this celebration of beer and Bavaria as the most authentic outside of Munich (it’s no coincidence Addison Oktoberfest rages on at the same time as Munich’s this year). The official tapping of the Paulaner keg from Munich kicks things off 8 p.m.Thursday, then it’s German music (Brave Combo and strolling accordion, and more! Sehr gut!), eats, and activities all weekend long. Practice your yodeling for the German Idol competition, do some squats to prep for the Bier Barrel rolls, and bring all the oohs and ahhs for the Dachshund Dash and other doggie fun. General admission is $10 per day ($5, kids). Food and drink coupons are sold separately, but there are a variety of food and beverage packs for every taste available before September 16. For a complete schedule of events, menus and performers, and to purchase tickets, visit addisonoktoberfest.com. -Merritt Martin

Friday, September 18
Twyla Tharp

Twyla Tharp will debut two new works in Dallas in celebration of her 50th anniversary working in dance and choreography. Tharp has remained remarkably busy over the years, producing a diverse body of work for both the stage and film. These performances will take place at 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday at the Winspear Opera House, 2403 Flora St. “Preludes and Fugues” is set to the music of Bach. The piece is about Tharp’s memories of dancing, divided into four tributes to other legends of dance. One is a tribute to Merce Cunningham, with slow movements and even somewhat of a focus on stillness. Jerry Robbin’s tribute tries to capture his penchant for mixing jazz and street culture into formal ballet. The encyclopedic dancing vocabulary of Martha Graham is represented along with a piece that focuses on the tension between the present and past for George Balanchine. “Yowzie” is about a dysfunctional couple and features jazz music by John Zorn, the avant-garde composer and saxophonist known for working on hundreds of wildly eclectic projects since the 1970s. Tickets run from $12 to $200 and can be purchased at attpac.org. -Jeremy Hallock

Oak Cliff Flamenco Festival
Show me one person who doesn't appreciate a good flamenco, and I'll show a bland, unsexy person who's lost their lust for life. Flamenco dance is one of the most sensual, powerful forms of dance, and it's being celebrated this weekend in Oak Cliff with performance, parties, food and music. There are a host of activities throughout the weekend. The kick off event will take place at Jefferson Tower and is an outdoor screening of Carlos Saura's movie Flamenco. Dance through the weekend. Tickets are free. More at alcantaraarts.com. 

Late Night at the Museums
Stay up late at the Nasher Sculpture Center, the Dallas Museum of Art, and The Crow Collection of Asian Art this weekend with the seasonal block party. There will be music in One Arts Plaza, and activities in each of the museums. Starts at 6 p.m. and stretches until midnight. 

Chris Hardwick
During the boom of stand-up comedy in the late 70s and 80’s, it seemed unthinkable that a science and technology nerd could turn their knowledge of human genetics and microprocessors into relatable comedy. Comedian and TV host Chris Hardwick has done just that. After shedding the image that he was actually the host of the regrettable MTV dating show Singled Out, he reinvented his comedy image by forming a musical duo called Hard ’n Phirm with comic musician Mike Phirman that made the bold move of crafting genius comedy by singing exclusively about science, technology and math (they actually have a song called “Pi” where they sing the first 30 numbers of the revered numeral). Then he launched the Nerdist empire that gave geeks, nerds and dweebs a place on the web to laugh and gawk at all the science-y and pop culture awesomeness their eyeballs could handle without having to incur the wrath of some hateful commenter who’s too lazy to bully them in person. Finally, he brought the unintentionally funny game show format back to cable with the social media comedy showdown “@Midnight” on Comedy Central. Now you’ll get to hear his latest takes on everything science and tech (and probably a lot more about the new season of “Doctor Who” than you thought one person could form an opinion on) when he takes to the stage of the Majestic Theatre at 7 p.m. Friday. Tickets are $37.50 per person and are available at axs.com. -Danny Gallagher

If you’ve ever tried to explain the plot of Barbarella to anyone, you’ll understand why it’s mostly just described as “campy”. The bizarre mash-up of science fiction and untethered female sexuality almost defies description, throwing vicious dolls, interplanetary exploits and Marcel Marceau into a convoluted plot that offers more spectacle than substance. But that’s the enduring legacy of the film: imagery that continues to influence the way women are portrayed perceived in sci-fi (for better or for worse), not to mention fashion (see: Gaultier), and even pop music (Duran Duran gets their name from one of the main characters and Prince has written a paean to the film). The Texas Theatre, 231 West Jefferson, resurrects the Dino de Laurentis flick in all its gaudy, 35-mm glory at 9 p.m. Friday. And if the sight of Jane Fonda in all her mid-1960s glory isn’t enough to sate you for the night, the screening will be followed by a costume contest and dance party with tunes from deejays Wild in the Streets, Gabriel and Travis Box. Tickets are $10.50 at thetexastheatre.com. -JDL

Believe it or not, there are people down here who don’t belong to a religion. There are even some who don’t even believe that (gasp!) God or an almighty, all-seeing and all powerful deity exists. Just because you’re an atheist, agnostic or general freethinker when it comes to religion doesn’t mean you don’t get a gathering place for you and your brethren to meet on the weekends when you’d rather just sleep off your hangover. Apostacon, an annual DFW gathering of skeptics and free thinkers, will ascend on the DFW Airport Marriott at 8440 Freeport Pkwy. in Irving from Friday through Sunday. The annual gathering will feature a large roster of guest speakers of famous skeptics and atheists including renowned magicians and outspoken atheists Penn & Teller who will interact with the heathen crowd during a special VIP dinner followed by their “Evening of Magical Inquiry” on Friday. The three-day weekend gathering will also feature a live performance by comedian Mary Ellen Hooper, a live recording of the nationally syndicated radio show “Dogma Debate with David Smalley” and a concert starring the self-proclaimed “nerd band” Clearly Guilty. Tickets are $45 for the Penn & Teller “Evening of Magical Inquiry” on Friday at 7 p.m. and range from $189 to $899 for weekend passes that include different levels of VIP admission. Student admission passes are also available for $75 with presentation of a student ID at admission. Tickets are available at apostacon.org. -DG

Plano Balloon Festival
Need a little bit of a lift? The Plano Balloon Festival has all the helium-filled, high-flying exploits you need to make your soul soar this weekend. The annual celebration of buoyancy takes flight at Oak Point Park, 2801 East Spring Creek Parkway, from 4 until 10 p.m. Friday. It continues from 6 a.m. until 10 p.m. Saturday and from 6 a.m. until 7 p.m. Sunday. Balloon launches are daily at 6 p.m. and 7 a.m., weather permitting, but even when your eyes aren’t skyward, there’s plenty to do and see: the balloons are set aglow at 8 p.m. on Friday and Saturday, creating a pretty luminary effect. There are also concerts throughout the weekend, a Kids Fun Zone with rides, inflatables, rock climbing and an special area dedicated to restless toddlers, and food and drink vendors aplenty. Tickets are $5 for general admission; $1 for seniors 65 and older; and free for kids under 36 inches in height. Visit planoballoonfest.org for a full schedule and further details. -JDL

Saturday, September 19
Being the River, Repeating the Forest 

Thoreau once said, “Nature will bear the closet inspection. She invites us to lay our eye level with her smallest leaf, and take an insect view of its plain.” In some ways, the work of Giuseppe Penone falls directly into this set of ideals. But in many ways, the Italian artist has spent his career, which spans nearly five decades, also questioning what we then owe nature in return? A member of the Arte Povera movement, Penone has explored the unshakeable binds between man and nature. For Being the River, Repeating the Forest, which opens at the Nasher Sculpture Center (2001 Flora St.) at 11 a.m. Saturday, Penone uses natural elements like wood, stone, acacia thorns, to present the processes of nature, while remaining fully aware of the interaction between artist and art. See the exhibition through Jan. 10. Admission is $10. More at nashersculpturecenter.og. -LS

Flamenco & Paella Night
Add a little Spanish flavor—both the figurative and the literal kind—to your Saturday with a hearty trifecta served up by The Wild Detectives, 314 West 8th Street. The bookstore/bar/venue plays host to a program packed out with Spanish culture during Flamenco and Paella Night, part of the larger Oak Cliff Flamenco Festival, beginning at 7 p.m. Saturday. The rumba show will get things moving with a performance of the upbeat music by Sevillan singer Carlos Garica, accompanied by his Spanish guitar and El Abejorro on the cajón—a type of drum. Following that, you’ll be treated to a presentation of cante, a raw and powerful vocal genre of flamenco that makes even emo look a little flat. Throughout the evening, the irresistible smell of paella will waft over the festivities as it’s served up to complete this cultural fête. There’s no cover charge; see thewilddetectives.com for more. -JDL

Du Chau: Part of a Continuum 
Du Chau is part artist part scientist part wizard. Just guessing about that last part. He uses his scientist's eye to his artistic practice, which usually fuses ceramics with wire in smart, captivating ways. Often serial in creation, his permutations build a larger organic piece of work, separable parts forming an intricate environment. In his solo exhibition at Liliana Bloch Gallery, he merges daily activities with memories of early childhood. The opening reception is from 6-9 p.m. Saturday. More at lilianablochgallery.com.'

Great Texas Food Truck Rally 
Food truck: A noun, a moving truck that carries delicious and unhealthy food for people to consume outside, most of the time with a beer in hand. To see a food truck in person and enjoy all of it in its glory, nonprofit organization Executives in Action will host Great Texas Food Truck Rally from 2 p.m. to 10 p.m. Saturday on the lawn of Reunion Tower (300 Reunion Blvd.). The food truck cuisine will include tacos and lobster rolls and Nodding Donkey also will be there to wash it all down with beer and wine. And what is any Dallas outdoors event without some country music to play in the background? James Otto, that guy who sings “Just Got Started Lovin’ You” will be there to play. Tickets are $10 and available at greattexasfoodtruckrally.com. -Paige Skinner

Sunday, September 20

Dallas Contemporary Fall Exhibitions

This weekend, the Dallas Contemporary (161 Glass St.) opens not one, not two, but FIVE exhibitions. The new year of programming kicks off with an intriguing slate of artists from different corners of the globe, each with a different, challenging perspective. Bani Abidi's An Unforeseen Situation will be her first solo museum exhibition in the US and features an older video piece, Funland, as well as new body of work, installed as an immersive site specific series. Berlin-based Nadia Kaabi-Linke presents six diverse pieces, each infusing beauty into critical perspectives on prevalent cultural issues from domestic violence to prevailing masculinity. Brazilian artist Adriana Varejao blends portraiture with her research on 19th century face painting used in combat by North American Indiean tribes. The Ukrainian photographers Synchrodogs recieve their first ever solo exhibition, which will feature a body of work that is the result of a roadtrip through Texas and questions the conceits of fashion photography. Finally, Dallas-based artist Jason Willaford's exhibit Sorry, this will only take a minute, is interested in what he calls the “gift of time,” and the need for complete isolation to disconnect. There will be plenty of art on display at the Contemporary starting at 11 a.m. Sunday and through December 20. More at dallascontemporary.org. -LS

Dallas Pride Party
This year the Dallas Pride Party is moving from Lee Park to Reverchon Park in order to accommodate for ALL THE GAYNESS. It’s been kind of a big year for gay rights so if every there were a time to put on a unicorn horn, paint your torso and head out to celebrate, this is it. Plus it’s basically the best people watching in the state. Even better than Hurricane Harbor and wet clothes as a swimsuit is tough to beat. This year Pride will have everything…glitter, rainbows, costumes, codpieces, harnesses, those shoes that nurses wear, doo-wop groups, a wise old turtle that looks like Quincy Jones, human Roombas and not a single ounce of judgment. Fun, catty comments? Yes. Judgment? Noooo. Plus Ty Herndon is headlining and admission is only $5 so you’re getting a festival AND a concert for less than a pack of glow sticks. Yes yes yes. The Party is from noon – 7 p.m. Sunday at Reverchon Park, located at the intersection of Turtle Creek and Maple Avenue. -Nikki Lott

Of the many exciting art- and experience-intensive additions to downtown in recent years, Encore Park (508 Park Avenue) is shaping up to be on the most unique and worthwhile of them all. The Stewpot, a First Presbyterian Church ministry supporting the hungry and homeless in Dallas, has brought this vital urban space to life with the 508 Amphitheater (214-906-0865). At 7 p.m. Sunday night, in conjunction with another key resurgent arts landmark, the Texas Theater, this historic section of downtown will be alive with music followed by a screening classic film Casablanca, starring the incomparable duo of Humphrey Bogart and Ingrid Bergman, under the night sky. The movie, music and setting will be great, sure, but make sure to catch a larger glimpse of the many ways the Stewpot is reaching out to our neighbors in need through the arts. -Kelly Dearmore

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