Arts & Culture News

The 10 Happiest Moments of 2021

Four Day Weekend started having live shows in mid-May.
Four Day Weekend started having live shows in mid-May. Mike Brooks
Just because the majority of the past year has been a suckfest doesn't mean every day was just another pointless lurch toward death. There were a lot of uplifting moments worth remembering, stories to tell our future grandchildren so the past doesn't sound like some kind of depressing wasteland. Take note of these stories from 2021 and place them in your time capsule so the bad and sad news doesn't overtake these uplifting memories.

1. Live Stuff Returns
The live music, comedy and performing arts industry took one of the hardest hits in the 2020 global-pandemic times, but as vaccines and widespread testing rolled out, live entertainment made its comeback. Comedy and theater venues like Four Day Weekend and Pocket Sandwich Theatre opened their doors with safety protocols and started welcoming audiences. Concert spaces such as Billy Bob's Texas in Fort Worth and Lava Cantina in The Colony started selling tickets to live music again. Even some new venues popped up in 2021. Dallas Comedy Club opened in the space once occupied by the Dallas Comedy House and the Plano House of Comedy in The Shops at Legacy North kicked off with Doug Stanhope as its first major headliner.

click to enlarge Pocket Sandwich Theatre's Werewolf of London is a classic melodrama. - RODNEY DOBBS/ POCKET SANDWICH THEATRE
Pocket Sandwich Theatre's Werewolf of London is a classic melodrama.
Rodney Dobbs/ Pocket Sandwich Theatre
2. Pocket Sandwich Finds a New Space in Carrollton
The year almost ended on a sour note for the beloved late-night theater. A new owner purchased the space occupied by Pocket Sandwich Theatre on East Mockingbird Lane and decided against having a storied, popular theater. Luckily, the city of Carrollton stepped in to offer the theater an even larger space as part of its Destination Carrollton project to bring more live entertainment and other attractive spaces to its downtown area.
click to enlarge Allisha Gray brought her Olympic gold medal from the 2021 Summer Olympics in Toyko, Japan to a press conference in Reunion Tower. - DANNY GALLAGHER
Allisha Gray brought her Olympic gold medal from the 2021 Summer Olympics in Toyko, Japan to a press conference in Reunion Tower.
Danny Gallagher
3. Dallas Wings' Allisha Gray Wins an Olympic Gold Medal
The 2021 Tokyo Summer Olympics added a new sport to its roster and a new Olympic winner to Dallas. Guard Allison Gray from the Dallas Wings won a gold medal after her team beat the women's Russian team in 3x3 basketball. The win also makes them the first team to ever win a gold medal in the new basketball event.

"When I left Dallas a month ago, I left with one goal in mind, to win a gold medal," Gray said at a press conference held at Reunion Tower last August. "To be able to say I'm an Olympian is one thing, but to be able to say I'm a gold medalist is an incredible feeling."

4. A Giant Rubber Duck!
Two years ago, a giant, inflatable poop appeared in Klyde Warren Park. It made everyone happy. It's hard to outdo that, but Fort Worth one-upped it with a giant, inflatable rubber duck. The six-story-tall rubber ducky appeared in Trinity Park in October (originally scheduled for July) as part of the Kindness Duck Project that aims to increase awareness for kindness for one another where the giant duck goes. If you can't get behind that, you don't deserve to know about the duck. Erase it from your mind now.
click to enlarge Kevin Stearns (right) is with a group called J Project. One of their main goals is to prove Prince, the musician, was murdered. - JACOB VAUGHN
Kevin Stearns (right) is with a group called J Project. One of their main goals is to prove Prince, the musician, was murdered.
Jacob Vaughn
5. QAnon Conference Loses Its Venue at the Last Minute
Despite losing the presidency and any shred of sanity, QAnon followers doubled down on crazy and increased their presence throughout Dallas — from a QAnon conference that attracted the biggest names in all of nut-job politics to a gathering at Dealey Plaza to prove that John F. Kennedy Jr. had never died (sadly, Kennedy was a no-show).

However, there was a shining ray of sunlight that emerged from the fog of gaslight when Gilley's Dallas and Omni Dallas Hotel both announced they'd canceled the For God & Country Patriot Roundup just a few weeks before its scheduled start in May. The move didn't stop the Q ... uacks from gathering and spouting nonsense about the 2016 election, but it gave us just a brief respite of hope in an otherwise bleak time.
click to enlarge Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson lit up his name with a flamethrower during his surprise entrance at Wrestlemania 32 at AT&T Stadium in 2016. - MIKE BROOKS
Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson lit up his name with a flamethrower during his surprise entrance at Wrestlemania 32 at AT&T Stadium in 2016.
Mike Brooks
6. Wrestlemania Is Returning to Dallas
Jerry Jones may have scared off the Super Bowl for good thanks to the fumble known as Super Bowl XLV, but AT&T Stadium can still bring blockbusters to our backyard with events like Wrestlemania. World Wrestling Entertainment announced in October that Wrestlemania 38 would return to AT&T Stadium in April for two nights of wrestling awesomeness. The last Wrestlemania held in the Arlington stadium in 2016 brought in famous names from in and outside the world of wrestling: Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson, Stone Cold Steve Austin, Mick "Mankind" Foley, rapper Snoop Dogg and NBA legend Shaquille O'Neal. It also became the fifth-most-attended event in the stadium's history. Just imagine what two nights of celebrities and slam could produce.
click to enlarge Is Kameron Westcott experiencing a blonde moment here? - COURTESY BRAVO
Is Kameron Westcott experiencing a blonde moment here?
courtesy Bravo
7. The Real Housewives of Dallas Is Over
The balance was restored to the Dallas media force when the dark side faded away, making the world a little lighter last year. The five-season Bravo reality series The Real Housewives of Dallas ended its painful run of pretending how hard it is to be rich and comfortable. The biggest crime the series committed had less to do with the unlikability of its central characters and more to do with its blandness. If at least one person doesn't try to flip over an entire brunch table once a season, then you're not doing it right.

click to enlarge Delta-8 THC gummies from Hometown Hero CBD - COURTESY HOMETOWN HERO CBD
Delta-8 THC gummies from Hometown Hero CBD
courtesy Hometown Hero CBD
8. Delta-8 and THC Stays Legal ... For Now
Technically, the good part of this development happened before it had a chance to clear every legal hurdle by the end of the year, but we'll take whatever win we can get, especially when it comes to legalizing THC and marijuana. The Texas Supreme Court denied a request by the Texas Department of State Health Services to prevent the Austin hemp maker Hometown Hero CBD from selling products like delta-8 and other THC isomers that DSHS still consider to be Schedule 1 controlled substances.
click to enlarge Bernie saved the day for one Oak Cliff business. Thanks, Internet. - ELVIE DE LA FUENTE
Bernie saved the day for one Oak Cliff business. Thanks, Internet.
Elvie De La Fuente
9. ABC Party HQ Is Saved by Bernie Sanders
One of the top memes of the year featured America's favorite socialist curmudgeon, Bernie Sanders, sitting cross-armed in a folding chair in a hoodie and a pair of knit mittens at President Joe Biden's inauguration in January. Oak Cliff party supplier and piñata maker ABC Party HQ made a piñata version of the Bernie meme and requests came flooding through the phones with over 120 orders in just two weeks. The boost in business was sorely needed after a year without in-person parties, and smashing piñatas seemed like the best way to take the edge off.
Computer stations at Dallas' central library, which is open again. - DYLAN HOLLINGSWORTH
Computer stations at Dallas' central library, which is open again.
Dylan Hollingsworth
10. Public Libraries Open Again
The coronavirus creeped into every aspect of society for a full year and closed institutions that seemed rock solid even in this age of uncertainty and cynicism. Thankfully, not even a pandemic could kill the powerful draw of your local library. The Dallas Public Library system officially reopened in April with spacing, mask and shielding requirements, so we wouldn't forget what it's like to go somewhere quiet and just read without having to pay for an overpriced coffee and pretend that we're actually going to buy the book. 
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Danny Gallagher has been a regular contributor to the Dallas Observer since 2014. He has also written features, essays and stories for MTV, the Chicago Tribune, Maxim, Cracked, Mental_Floss, The Week, CNET and The Onion AV Club.