BY KATI SCHARDL
I had the terrible misfortune of being sidelined by a broken leg during the most flat-out crazy-busy time of the cultural year — Seven Days of Opening Nights, February’s marathon of arts and entertainment.
I missed out on way more than one week of art, film, dance, music and performance art — from the get-go, when the festival was launched in 1999, Seven Days hijacked the calendar for most of the month.
I wasn’t back on my feet in time to make the rounds of this year’s Tallahassee Film Festival, which boasted packed screenings, glam-slammed after-parties and a cinematic lineup that earned rave reviews.
While healing, I have consoled myself with the thought that the Tallahassee cultural calendar doesn’t really have any blank spaces. There’s plenty to savor year-round.
Every month, there’s the popular First Friday Gallery Hop, sponsored by the Council on Culture & Arts. It draws throngs to area galleries and museums. It’s always a mob scene at funky, fun Railroad Square Art Park, where you can find out-there performance art, indie music, fine art and much more.
You can find a guide to all the arty parties in the Democrat’s weekly Limelight, as well as at COCA’s website at www.morethanyouthought.com.
If theater is your entertainment tipple, you can slake your thirst with productions by community theater groups, the acclaimed theater programs at FSU, FAMU and TCC, professional-quality Young Actors Theatre shows and the Civic Center’s professional Broadway Series. When theater season is in full swing, it’s possible to see two or three top-notch performances a week.
Dancers will find plenty to keep their feet moving, with ballet, salsa, tango (Tallahassee has its own Argentine Tango Society), old-time contra dance, Cajun, zydeco, swing and ballroom groups, as well as performances by FSU and FAMU’s renowned ballet, modern and Afro-Caribbean dance troupes. Jawole Willa Jo Zollar, founder of the famous dance ensemble Urban Bush Women, is on the dance faculty at FSU.
The music scene is rich and diverse, from the ever-changing indie scene to world music ensembles that keep far-flung musical traditions fresh to top-drawer jazz at B Sharp’s Jazz Cafe and the up-and-coming Hi Fi Jazz Cafe.
The Tallahassee Symphony Orchestra infuses classical music with contemporary zest, and groups such as the Tallahassee Community Chorus and Tallahassee Civic Chorale explore the choral canon.
The heralded Tallahassee Boys’ Choir has been joined by the Tallahassee Girls’ Choir of CHOICE, and area high schools boast award-winning singing groups.
And music-lovers will find that following their bliss is mighty light on the pocketbook — both FSU and FAMU offer recital seasons crammed with free performances.
Be sure to explore the culinary landscape, as well. Tallahassee has a vibrant, vital dining scene, with an increasing emphasis on locally grown, ingredients and fresh takes on classic cuisines at such establishments as Sage and Cypress.
The world is your dining oyster, whether you’re looking for creatively presented sushi, fresh Gulf seafood, spicy Thai and Vietnamese, classic Greek and Mediterranean, or other world cuisines.
There’s more, so much more, out there, and as soon as I am back on both feet, I’m jumping back into the thick of it. Peruse these listings and use them as your guide, and I’ll see you out there.
Kati Schardl is the assistant features editor for the Tallahassee Democrat and a long-time chronicler of, and participant in, the local cultural scene.