For a while she was looking like scary old actress Norma Desmond, standing on a shabby staircase with a scowl on her puss. But a gorgeous facelift and chic makeover have turned Dallas' last movie palace, owned by Landmark Theatres, into a glamorous starlet. Interior designer Brooks Graham spoiled none of the Inwood's existing art deco details in adding cushy leather seats in the VIP area upstairs and installing a neat walkway between the intimate Inwood Lounge and the theater itself (OK to cart those cocktails over now, too). The Inwood once again is ready for her close-up.
Lizard Lounge
Really, if you get drunk enough, you can get your groove on at most any nightlife spot in Dallas. That said, we'd much rather you take your drunk ass out of Taco Cabana (no, the salsa bar isn't a good place to strike up the Macarena) and shake your tailfeathers all the way to the Lizard Lounge, where dancing isn't just abundant--it's downright mandatory. What has set Lizard Lounge apart for years is its booking, with superstar DJs like Qbert, Mix Master Mike and Paul Oakenfold. In addition, Dallas' goth beauties still hold court on Thursday and Sunday nights for The Church, which means even pale, awkward dancers can throw on some leather and see what the fuss is about. But you might wanna change before heading to Taco C afterward.

Readers' Pick
Station 4 911 Cedar Springs Road 214-526-7171
You unsuccessfully begged your friends to accompany you to Deuce Bigalow: European Gigolo. You snuck into From Justin to Kelly to avoid the snicker of the guy at the ticket counter. You skipped a night at the bar to watch Boogeyman on DVD. We get it: You have a love affair with sucky movies. It's not a crime, although there are some at the Observer who would arrest you if they could. Our point is that you shouldn't be ashamed to see a formulaic stinker on the big screen. And if you are, go to the lowest-key theater in Dallas, AMC Glen Lakes. It's clean, convenient and, most of the time, empty. You won't run into anyone you know, and you can enjoy that new Ashlee Simpson movie in peace. And, for the record, From Justin to Kelly was so bad that it was good.
If you're a social misfit in Dallas, minc opens its arms to you, baby. The Exposition Park hotspot, which has been mislabeled a gay club for a while, has recently broadened its booking horizons to remind men and women, gay and straight, black and white and tall and short that all nightlife possibilities are up for grabs at one convenient location. From dance theme nights to live rock bands and everything in between, not to mention hot parties hosted by the likes of Erykah Badu and quality DJs such as The Got House Crew and DJ Red Eye running the boards throughout the week, minc is establishing itself not as a question mark in Dallas nightlife but as an exclamation point.

Readers' Pick
Lizard Lounge 2424 Swiss Ave. 214-826-4768
Starting in March at the WaterTower Theatre in Addison and extending into late October at the Samuell Grand Amphitheatre, the Shakespeare Festival of Dallas is inching toward becoming what everybody wishes it could be--a year-round celebration of Elizabethan theater. But the two best months, for our money, are still June and July, when the festival is doing hard-core Bard for the masses out on the blankets in the grass at Samuell Grand Park in East Dallas. Acting, directing and all-around production values in recent years have been of ever better quality. And there's nothing better, when the sun finally falls on a white-hot Dallas summer day, than a good bottle of wine, a few friends and The Winter's Tale.
With such great booking, the Gypsy Tea Room doesn't really need to pander to the local scene. The Deep Ellum mainstay's larger ballroom is the perfect mid-level venue for touring acts such as Ryan Adams, The Roots and Robert Plant, who want to sell a thousand tickets and still consider their concerts "intimate," while the smaller "tea room" gives up-and-coming indie stars like The Raveonettes, Aesop Rock and Death From Above 1979 plenty of space along with a quality sound system. Those national shows could pay the bills by themselves, but it's the club's concessions to local promotions, like monthly Final Friday hip-hop events and Spune Productions' singer-songwriter socials, that prove the club isn't just looking to make a buck. These Gypsies care about the scene. No sound system or sightline can top that fact.

Readers' Pick
Gypsy Tea Room
Uptown Players
Once again, it's all about the all-gay all-the-time Uptown Players. With this summer's sold-out run of Del Shores' Southern Baptist Sissies, this theater group earned enough money (and a little more) to pay off its debts and fund the rest of its season. That's how strong the following has become for this troupe, whose mission is to do theater that reflects "contemporary and alternative lifestyle themes." Attracting the top actors and directors in town, Uptown has such a good reputation that out-of-town playwrights often fly in to see productions of their plays--and end up telling Uptown producers Jeff Rane and Craig Lynch that their little company has outdone the New York or L.A. versions. Andrew Lippa came in to check out The Wild Party. Playwright Shores was so impressed with their staging of Sissies that he promptly hired one of the actors, Emerson Collins, to take over a main role in the Los Angeles revival in 2006. Founded in 2001, Uptown Players get more ambitious every season.

Readers' Pick
Uptown Players
Most people assume the only place a person can grab a beer in Dallas while playing an arcade game (read: not Golden Tee or one of those touch-screen mini-machines) is Dave & Buster's, but Exposition Park's Bar of Soap gives drinking gamers a shot at some fine cabinets without forcing them to wear khaki shorts. Racing, shooting, pinball, Pac-Man and air hockey are on tap in the bar's laundry room, so whether you want to kill time while finishing a load of whites or kill terrorists on the Gunblade: New York machine, electronic diversions are only a quarter slot away at the BoS. Even better, there's no Dance Dance Revolution cabinet--that's the last game you want to play after a few rounds, anyway.
If you like Broadway musicals but not enough to actually sleep on the Great White Way to score a ticket, Dallas Summer Musicals and the Broadway Contemporary Series are for you. They bring the best of Broadway (or at least the touring versions of it) to Fair Park year-round, mixing old favorites such as Annie Get Your Gun and the hottest tickets (of last season or the season before), including, this season, The Producers and Wicked, the splashy Broadway smash about the witches of Oz (onstage October 6 through October 23). Sure, instead of Natasha Richardson or Jennifer Jason Leigh, you get Cabaret starring Lea Thompson (yup, Howard the Duck's Lea Thompson) and Peter Pan starring Cathy Rigby (actually, she was pretty good flying around in those green tights), but tickets are affordable, with seats ranging from $11 to $74.
Fallout Lounge
Most open mike nights are painful affairs. You bring your guitar and your songs, and everyone else brings their best Dave Matthews impersonations. Not at the Fallout, where the open mike draws everyone from talented unknowns with great record collections to established local talents. Local scenester Tania Rivas founded Open Mike Mondays in April 2004 but has since handed over hosting duties to Jeb Hagan, who faithfully enforces the most important rule of Open Mike Mondays--thou shalt not ask the audience for money.

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