Best Drug-Free Acid Trip
Scott Fischer

We may have learned (or at least were taught) to say no to drugs long ago, but that doesn't mean we don't want to trip the hell out sometimes. That's why we follow Dallas band Helium Queens, a trio made up of Poppy Xander, Chelsey Danielle and Sharla Franklin, which performs in all-neon and takes us to another galaxy through the band's fantastical backstories. The Queens have brought a psych edge to many stages in the past few years since coming together, but their recent three-night sold-out Space Opera truly took us to an otherworldly dimension. At art space Arstillery, audiences were mesmerized by the glow-up production, the epic story of moon royalty battling a ruler played by Sarah Ruth. The space opera also brought together the highest of local talent — such as singer Nicole Marxen, artist Shamsy, designer Teddy Waggy and choreographer Danielle Georgiou — in a collaborative effort.

It'll Do Club

Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays, head to It'll Do Club to enjoy some jams spun by the best house and techno artists in the world — we're talking Green Velvet, Justin Martin, VNSSA, John Summit, Moon Boots, Dom Dolla and Mark Farina just this past summer. But on Sundays, the scene changes. Don your most Satanist clothes — your leather and camouflage, your eyeliner and black eyeshadow, your Moloch necklace and spiky collar — and gird your loins for The Church, a vodka Red Bull-fueled night of industrial and emo music. You can wear anything, or practically nothing, and you'll fit right in. But the more Satanic and evil it is the better. It's not exactly God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Ghost that's worshipped at this church.

Kimbell Art Museum

You'd be hard pressed to determine which is more delightful and venerable, the Kimbell Art Museum's permanent collection or the museum buildings themselves. Designed by Louis Khan and opened to the public in 1972, the Kimbell's original building is a masterpiece of modern architecture; across the lawn, the newer, airy, glass pavilion designed by Renzo Piano represents a similar achievement for postmodern architecture. The artwork inside more than meets the high bar set by its buildings. Miró, Matisse, Léger, Mondrian, Picasso, Monet, Braque, Caravaggio, Munch, Cézanne, Ensor, Gaugin, Sisley, Caillebote and even a rare di Buoninsegna grace the walls. Only the best traveling exhibitions roll through the Kimbell — think masterworks from the Art Institute of Chicago, the National Galleries of Scotland or the Musée d'Orsay; or exhibitions delving into the works of Renoir, Balenciaga and Monet both early and late. A trip to the Kimbell, no matter how many times you've been, is always an insightful and refreshing experience.

The Best Club DJ in 2016, and the Readers' Choice Best Club DJ in 2017, 2019 and 2020, Red Eye — whose real name is Scottie Canfield — has more than earned the awards and recognition as one of the most skilled and knowledgeable house and techno DJs in Dallas. Resident DJ at It'll Do Club — Dallas' premier destination for house, techno, EDM, dubstep and everything in between, where he recently played back to back with mushroom jazz pioneer Mark Farina — Red Eye has more than two decades of experience under his belt, going all the way back to Club One and Beauty Bar. The size of his vinyl record collection is notorious, as is the scope of his knowledge of classic house and techno tracks.

Yes, it's Monday night. Yes, it's in Fort Worth. Yes, drinks are expensive. But if you want to enjoy classic house and techno performed by talented local DJs with the best possible vibes, drop what you're doing and run don't walk to Curfew Bar near Sundance Square. Curated by DJ offparole alongside resident DJs boyblk and C.B. Smoove, the music's bumping from 10 p.m.-2 a.m. every Monday night. Lasers by Michael Moore strobe, anime plays behind the booth and everybody dances the night away. The top Texan techno talent — think Pro Ghost, J. Harcrow, IAMYU, Bout, Rami and American Matthew — performs here on the reg. All are welcome at this raging techno party that intentionally harkens back to the Detroit house scene created by people of color and members of the LGBTQ+ community.

Meadows Museum

"As you wish," indeed! Films are best enjoyed among the company of a large crowd, and the Meadow Museum in Dallas screened Rob Reiner's classic fantasy adventure The Princess Bride in a refreshing outdoor experience. The epic romance of star-crossed lovers Wesley and Buttercup (and the commentary of a cynical adolescent boy and his grandfather) is a story that's passed between generations, and the family screening allowed parents to share a true classic with the next generation. Drive-ins became popular within the last year, but the outdoor experience of a pre-summer breeze came as a welcome change of pace.

One of the icons of classic cinema was honored with an extensive Fort Worth exhibition that featured some of the most iconic props and memorabilia from his filmography. Displaying items from classic Westerns like The Searchers, Stagecoach, Red River, Rio Bravo, The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance and The Shootist, the John Wayne Museum walks attendees through four decades of "The Duke's" career. It's not just film highlights though, as the experience provides intimate details about Wayne's challenging childhood and features segments of his acclaimed original poetry. The 10,000-square-foot exhibit ion includes exclusive merchandise such as Wayne's signature bourbon. Adjacent to the Fort Worth Stockyards, it's a truly unique Texan experience.

Best Live Performance Venue
Daniel Rodrigue

Since reopening in 2019, Rubber Gloves Rehearsal Studios has become a creative space for more than just musicians. The venue, which sits just off the train tracks in Denton's industrial district, underwent major cosmetic changes and added more areas to accommodate artists of all stripes. With two inside stages and one, sizable outdoor stage, a single night at Gloves could include karaoke, a DJ set, a comedy show and a rock concert. And while music will always be RGRS's bread and butter, they've had major success with performance art events, photography and art exhibitions, bazaars and more. It's a true testament to the longtime DIY nature of the venue, which originally opened over two decades ago. And, of course, its namesake rehearsal studios still offer musicians a place to create.

With superheroes invading every area of pop culture, it was only a matter of time before a Dallas actor slipped into the role of Gotham's famous detective. Fresh off of the conclusion of Supernatural, Jensen Ackles stepped into the role of Bruce Wayne for the two-part animated film Batman: The Long Halloween. The noir story followed the triumvirate of Batman, Commissioner Jim Gordon and District Attorney Harvey Dent as they search for the culprit behind a series of murders tied to holidays. A signature adult story (Part Two was even rated R), The Long Halloween was a refreshing change of pace thanks to Ackles' nuanced depiction of Batman's tortured soul.

Best Survivor in Theater
Courtesy Four Day Weekend

The pandemic ate up a sizable part of 2021 and continued to land bruise after bruise on local theater and comedy. Some didn't make it. Others did what they could to have some kind of show they could provide for their core audience from the comfort of their quarantine zones. Four Day Weekend comedy theater group, which opened its Lowest Greenville location just two years before the start of the coronavirus outbreak, had to do just that but they came up with some truly unique ways to keep the footlights alight while the doors remained closed. The group turned its Dallas location into a makeshift, three-camera TV studio and found ways to use Zoom's interactive streaming features to perform their signature style of live improv over the Internet. They even took on corporate clients for private shows so their revenue stream didn't completely dry up before audiences venture back to the theater. The theater chain's resilience and resourcefulness will surely stand as an example of how any dramatic or comic theater company can maintain its business model during a global crisis.

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