If you've never seen a Muay Thai demonstration, you'll need to put the Thai Culture & Food Festival on your calendar. The world champion of the sport known as the "art of eight limbs" takes the stage of the two-day culture showcase Saturday and Sunday at The Buddhist Center of Dallas. In a delicious combination of food and fun, local Thai restaurants and artists come together for this free event. Rumor has it, even the U.S. Ambassador to Thailand plans to attend and I'm guessing your schedule is far less busy than his.
The Buddhist Center of Dallas is one of the city's best kept secrets. It's a stunning piece of architecture and on Sundays, you can track down some delicious Thai food there. During the festival the Thai marketplace will house a dozen local pop-up shops with everything from trinkets to fashion. In addition to the Muay Thai fights, there will be traditional cultural performances, dances and music. And if you can still walk after you gorge yourself on the chicken satay and fried bananas, there will be guided tours of the temple.The Buddhist Center of Dallas is located at 8484 Stults Road. For a full schedule and more information, visit thaifestdallas.com.
But that's just the beginning of what you can do in Dallas tonight through Sunday. I teamed up with Mixmaster contributor and local culture expert, Danny Gallagher, to hunt down the comedians, film fests, polka competitions and theater premieres to catch this weekend.
Thursday, May 22
Ice & Ash Abstract art has overtaken the contemporary scene. After learning the rules of form, most modern artists veer toward abstraction. This includes Oak Cliff native, Dallas-based painter Fred Villanueva, whose new exhibit Ice & Ash opens at 7 p.m. Thursday at Caldwell Arte Exposicion (103 Howell Street). He uses mixed media to explore color and perspective. Thursday's opening is from 7 p.m. to 9:30p.m. with free entry. The exhibit runs through June 14. Visit caldwellarteexposicion.com for information.
Maz Jobrani Stand-up comedians usually don't make great cultural ambassadors because their job is to offend the sensibilities of everyone in the room for a laugh. Comedian Maz Jobrani, however, can do both with a daft cleverness that's rare in comedy circles. His well honed material doesn't attack cultural and political biases and stereotypes with acid spewing vitriol but he also doesn't hold back when he sees something that needs to be taken down a peg or two whether it's on a comedy club stage, in a theater or as one of the regular panelists on NPR's "Wait, Wait...Don't Tell Me." He'll be in town to do a show at 7:30 p.m. Thursday at the City Performance Hall (2520 Flora St.), thanks to the efforts of the Dallas/Fort Worth World Affairs Council. Grab tickets for $35 at dfwworld.org. - Danny Gallagher
Friday, May 23
Booth We know what happened after Kennedy's assassination. The stories of Oswald and Ruby live in infamy. But the stories of John Wilkes Booth's run from the law didn't quite make it into our American folk lore. Lincoln's assassin is the subject of Booth, the new play by Steven Walters and Erik Archilla, which takes the stage at Second Thought Theatre at 8 p.m. Friday, with performances through June 14. It's a magnified, mostly true, take on the person of Booth and his band of outlaws. Read our interview with the playwrights. Tickets are $25 and available at secondthoughttheatre.com.
World Turtle Day Even a turtle has its day. That was the lesson from the footrace that the speedy, but lazy hare lost to the tortoise. If we're being technical, a turtle would actually race a fish. Clearly, I failed biology, but I'm going to make an uneducated guess that no self-respecting tortoise will complain if you wish him, "happy turtle day," this Friday. And if you want to high five an actual turtle, or snap a selfie (hashtag Shellfie), head to Turtle Fest at Sea Life Aquarium Grapevine (3000 Grapevine Mills Parkway) from 10 a.m. - 7 p.m. Friday. Plus, the aquarium has a lot of other water creatures to hang out with. Admission is $20 for adults, $16 for children. For more information, head to visitsealife.com/grapevine.
Spike and Mike's Sick and Twisted Festival of Animation Cartoons aren't just for kids anymore thanks in part to rise of Adult Swim and primetime fare like The Simpsons, South Park and the endless supply of shows that FOX instinctively keeps giving to Seth MacFarlane. Just about every major animator and cartoon artist working today got their start as part of a traveling cavalcade of crazy cartoon known as Spike and Mike's Sick and Twisted Festival of Animation, which makes its triumphant return to Dallas's Texas Theatre (231 W. Jefferson Blvd.) at 7:15 p.m. Friday with additional shows at 6 p.m. Saturday and 5:30 p.m. Sunday. This year's stop includes some old favorites mixed in with new classics like Dumb Ways to Die, Path of Blood and Enrique Wrecks the World. It should go without saying that it's going to be an animation bloodbath.More information available at thetexastheatre.com. - Danny Gallagher
The Magic Rainforest In this magical story about myth and identity, a young boy named Aki sets out on a journey to become a warrior. He enters a mystical world inhabited by a fire demon, where he learns who really is. Cara Mia Theatre's regional premiere of award winning playwright Jose Cruz Gonzalez's Magic Rainforest uses movement, light and sound to bring the story to life. See it in previews at 8 p.m. Friday or in another performance through June 8 at the Latino Cultural Center (2600 Live Oak). Tickets start at $10. More info at caramiatheatre.org.
Barbecue Apocalypse In Texan suburbs, relationships between neighbors are like Tim Allen and Wilson on Home Improvement. We build fences so that no one can just "pop in," making backyard barbecues overblown, usually awkward affairs. And when the newlywed couple from down the block begins to discuss their cat's bowel movements, you might find yourself wishing for the world's end. However unlikely an inbound apocalypse, it's the basis for Matt Lyle's new play, Barbecue Apocalypse, which opens at Kitchen Dog Theater (3120 McKinney Ave.) at 8 p.m. Friday. It headlines the company's New Works Festival, which takes place through June 21 and features six staged readings of brand new plays and Pup Fest, the high school playwriting workshop. Tickets for Barbecue start at $15 and all the readings are donation-based. For the full schedule and more information, visit kitchendogtheater.org.
Saturday, May 24 A Gentleman's Agreement Emerging from the grungy 90's, the 21st century saw young men pulling their pants up, styling their hair and pressing suit jackets to wear with designer jeans. From Pharrell's infamous hat to Justin Timberlake's suit and tie, today's rockstars pay homage to Hollywood's golden age of gentlemanly sex appeal. For men searching for a way to adopt the classic lifestyle of a well-groomed, well-dressed man, Studio 410 (410 W. Davis St.) and Caviar Club are throwing you a welcome party. At 6 p.m. Saturday, head to A Gentleman's Agreement for a close shave, a "menicure," and a new pocket square, or five.. The evening features the debut of Daniel Perez's men's accessories line, Caviar Club Menswear. Women are also invited for the evening's free toast to testosterone, because everyone appreciates a man in a suit. For more information visit facebook.com/caviarclubdallas.
Primordial Mirror Catch some video art in the final show of the spring season at the experimental art space in Trinity Groves, Ware:Wolf:Haus (425 Bedford St). The night kicks off with the premiere of Dallas composer David Karsten Daniels' new piece, The Four Immeasurable Minds. Los Angeles based artist Julie Weitz's three-channel HD video will be accompanied by a live musical score by Michael Perkins. Check out the Facebook event for more info.
National Polka Festival If you've ever wanted to polka non-stop (no judgment), this is your weekend to do it. Head out to Ennis for the 48th Annual National Polka Festival, for Czech food, dance, and, of course, accordion grinding. If you're a polka pro, you may be crowned the king and queen of the dance floor. Need more convincing? Performances from Brave Combo and kolaches. The party starts at 7 p.m. Friday and doesn't end until Sunday night. Activities downtown are free, and admission to the three participating music halls ranges from $7 to $17.
T.J. Griffin's Animal Instinct at RO2 Art There's a certain whimsy to TJ Griffin's work. In this series he explores cartoonish imagery to combine ancient symbolism and animalistic figures. RO2 Art (110 N. Akard St.) marks its final day in the gallery with a closing reception at 6 p.m. Saturday. More information at ro2art.com.
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Deep Ellum Windows We've sung the praises of these DIY pop-up galleries all spring. So, we couldn't let this weekend go by without letting you know that this Saturday is your last chance to wander into the pop-up exhibitions in vacant Deep Ellum buildings. The organizers have invited a handful of talented local artists, including Christopher Blay, Sally Glass, among others. For the full list of participating spaces, visit the Facebook event page.
Sunday, May 25
National Tap Dance Day Block Party Whip out your shim, sham, shimmy and celebrate a traditional American dance form. It's the 25th anniversary of the official holiday, plus it's a day to celebrate the storied dancer, Bill "Bojangles" Robinson. Stop by Arts Fifth Avenue in Fort Worth for the annual block party, with special guest Tommy Tune. Check out even more dancers and more family fun for free, beginning 7 p.m. Sunday on the outdoor stage at Arts Fifth Avenue, 1628. Ave., Fort Worth. Visit artsfifthavenue.org.
The Spanish Gesture If your stomach growls when you read Hamburger Kunsthalle, I'm right there with you. But we're not talking about a Dutchman's beef sandwich. In fact, the Hamburger Kunsthalle is one of the Germany's most important art museums. And it's sending paintings our way. The Spanish Gesture: Drawings from Murillo to Goya in the Hamburger Kunsthalle arrives at the Meadows Museum Sunday with 86 works by leading Spanish artists from the 16th-19th centuries. Stop by the stunning museum that sits at the entrance to Southern Methodist University's campus through August 31 and glimpse the work of these Spanish masters. Entrance to the Meadows Museum, 5900 Bishop Blvd., costs $10. Visit meadowsmuseumdallas.org for more information.