BEST PLACE | TO SEE A FIGHT 2013 | Apparently Almost Anywhere | in Oak Cliff | Best of Dallas® 2020 | Best Restaurants, Bars, Clubs, Music and Stores in Dallas | Dallas Observer

For a time, Dallas' collective consternation was leveled at a Facebook page with some 60,000 likes called "Oak Cliff Dallas Fights." It showcased fisticuffs predominantly between young Latino men, slugging it out in gas stations, locker rooms and school yards. City Council member Dwaine Caraway said it was bad for Oak Cliff's image, presuming these fights actually took place in Oak Cliff. Eventually, perhaps fearing prosecution, the page's anonymous creator took the site down. But, on a recent search, it appears to have re-emerged. So, if videos of boys who watch too much UFC throwing flailing haymakers are your thing, settle in for an occasionally funny ride. It won't take long. These kids are too bad at fighting to hurt each other much. They're gassed within minutes.



It's late Saturday morning. Your child is bouncing off the walls. Every possible diversion in or near the house has been exhausted. It's time for Legoland, which is one of a very few legal ways to guarantee your own sanity. There are Lego games, Lego rides, Lego movie theaters and Lego pits. It's basically an amusement park made entirely from the colorful plastic blocks. No child can resist.

This isn't one of those art festivals you stumble upon with Grandma in some faux-experimental neighborhood. There are no illuminated dolphins or Manet rip-offs. There's real art, shockingly good photographs and other knick-knacks. Every year, Deep Ellum closes Main Street for music, live art and loads of paintings. The art ranges from experimental to wildly local, and it never sucks. Grab your significant other's hand and take the stroll from Hall Street to Good Latimer. And stop for a corny dog.

With the line "Kool-Aid is for closers," Jeff Swearingen and Bren Rapp dramatically changed the status of children's theater in North Texas. Swearingen wrote and directed Daffodil Girls: Based on David Mamet's Glengarry Glen Ross, a two-act play about the ruthless world of scout troop cookie sales. Cast with a dozen talented young local actresses (ages 7 to 14), the show was deeply satirical, boldly funny, with moments of heartbreaking pathos. It was also a game-changer for the tiny, low-budget Fun House Theatre. Not only was the material great (other theaters are now interested in doing the script), the girls onstage gave polished, nuanced performances. Buzz quickly grew for the show, local critics swarmed all over it and Fun House held it over to sold-out houses. What else did Fun House do this year? Only a full-fledged, solid and thoughtful Hamlet with an all-youth cast. Children's theater that takes its actors and audiences seriously makes us all live happily ever after.

The Perot Museum is magical enough in the daytime. Subtract children, add booze, keep the doors open extra late and it gets even better. The Perot's quarterly Social Science event provides a new twist on the science museum experience. The programs — with topics such as the science of relationships and sound — are interesting and well-executed. But the real appeal is that Social Science allows you to be in a really cool museum drunk after dark. It's every nerdy teenager's dream.

We talk often about the content, status and potential growth of emerging art in Dallas, so it was nice to see that lip service transcend into a cohesive, well-curated gallery show during this extensive DMA offering. While DallasSites provided the historical framework for how things have grown into themselves, Available Space gave us the best of what's happening right now. Through Art Foundation's curation project, the fantastically named Boom Town, we toured a cohesive blend of styles, approaches and career-pinning all in the DMA's main gallery. Off in the wings the story unfolded further, with performance art showcases and panels by PerformanceSW, video art through the decades by Bart Weiss' treasured Dallas VideoFest, and hands-on workshops at Oil and Cotton's outpost. Just to complicate matters further, regional hooligan collective HOMECOMING! COMMITTEE built its subversively splendid example of 3-D thought, Post Communique, a show that shattered and rebuilt North Texas' art history for everyone's thoughtful amusement. It was a snapshot, a moment to pause and in-your-face proof of how good our talent pool really is.

Whether it's keeping up with the ever-happening dialog about Dallas arts or starting its own, Green Bandana has stepped in to fill the gaps — especially in those chasms that exist between big institutions and individual artists. GB doesn't stop there: The blog posts — penned by now-solo operator Darryl Ratcliff — share all available information regarding how and where to see great art through a positive, critical lens. We know what you're thinking: "All of that sounds great, but sometimes I want to step away from direct conversation and blow off steam." Yeah, we all do. And Green Bandana does that too. From its mash-up parties that involve anything from projection art, live music, nail sets, sculpture, open bars and bonfires, to its open-mic nights and public art initiatives, like the Dallas Love Project that will post inspirational works along the JFK motorcade route in upcoming months, Green Bandana infiltrates every entryway to our lives and artfully booby-traps them. This unsung organization fuels so many creative programs that a contact buzz is impossible to avoid. Not that you'd want to.

New galleries are emerging all around us. Through all of that hustle, Nancy Whitenack's Hi Line haven remains the standard for well-selected and collectable Dallas art. She has chosen a stable of talents with unique perspectives who are willing to extend the tangents of where existing work is already pointed. Nobody shown at Conduit is content to simply fill in the grid, and that's a tribute to the caliber of the space and its leadership. There's also a balance there, an energy that teeters between the established, repped works in the main showrooms and the more experimental, budding and often very strange works offered in the Project Room, curated by Conduit's assistant director Danette Dufilho. That equilibrium is what makes Conduit a starting — and often also an ending point — for any gallery night. It's also refreshing proof that an exceptional retail art space can be successful while still taking chances.

This year's Pin Show did what it had to in order to raise the stakes after 2012's impressive event: It skated across the cultural surface tension and lured Dallas' most fashionable away from Uptown, across the bridge and into a West Dallas warehouse. Once there you entered a scene resembling an underground party in a Marfa airplane hangar. Two firetruck bars acted as alcohol's first responders to a compound unapologetically filled with beautiful people in floor-length furs. Filling out the room was more eye candy: a reckless pingpong game in one corner, and four women dressed in updated WWII factory garb stationed up front, adorably seated behind vintage sewing machines. Blasting the room with music was soul outfit The Danny Church Band, who also provided the models' energetic catwalk soundtrack. But most important was the attention paid to styling and artist promotion. All who went to Pin Show left knowing exactly which looks, accessories and start-up labels they liked most, and thanks to its organizers' refined eyes, there was plenty of exceptional designer talent to choose from.

Barak Epstein

Considering this one-screen indie theater is run by four dudes with day jobs, it would be impressive if Texas Theatre's programming simply remained consistent. It would be nice if the bar were just a friendly place to drink or if you could occasionally see a less-conventional act performed there, like a comedy or DJ set. But for Aviation Cinemas, the venue's eventful puppet masters, chugging along was never an option. Instead, they've become a community cornerstone, showing the grittiest, most daring examples of new film available, counterbalanced by wrap-around themed repertory flicks — most of which align with corresponding parties, cocktails and music sets. Then, they use every piece of their animal to deliver behind-the-screen comedy shows, an art gallery in the rafters and a judgment-free cocktail bar. It's an oasis for writers, artists and filmmakers; a place to share ideas and theories all while pounding cinema-themed highballs and dropping it down deep on the lobby's dance floor. You can go to dozens of venues to catch a movie, and there will probably be teenagers talking on their cellphones behind you and you might walk out feeling like the garbage you saw stole your lunch money. At Texas Theatre that would never happen. Every film shown is carefully curated so it attracts people who love movies. It's a safe place, and it doesn't hurt that they pour a great drink.

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