Urban Nights May 2011- my ramble through a thriving downtown Dayton

First regret- I didn’t make it over to W. Third street this time- last year it was the happening place.

We started out meeting a bunch of friends at Taqueria Mixteca– the best hole in the wall Mexican food in town. Good news is that they are planning on expanding and adding a liquor license- which hopefully also means adding bathrooms that you can access from INSIDE the restaurant. Everyone in our party of 12 was using either their groupon or livingsocial discounts- which got you $14 worth of food for $7. Trust me- for two people to eat $14 here is work.

The Sideshow continues to showcase local art, music and hipness- this time taking over the Dayton Yellow Cab building and turning it into a gallery, beer garden, concert pavilion. What? You didn’t know Dayton had a Yellow Cab company- don’t be alone, Dayton isn’t like NYC where cabs are highly visible- although I did notice one driving last night after stopping in. Saw a few bands- including friend Nick Kizirnis with his latest band the “Fair Shakes” which had a whole lot of shakin goin’ on- plus a future musical superstar hitting the stage in his debut. Sorry I don’t have the names or ages- but, the son of one of the bands’ guitar players (under 8 years old)- came up and did two songs- one, Suicide Hill, a seasonal ditty about a local sledding attraction and “Irish Delinquent” – his monicker- the kid, sportin’ a half-sized guitar and a braided ponytail did vocals on the tunes he wrote with his dad. The audience ate it up- isn’t this how Michael Jackson got his start.

Earlier I heard “The Al Holbrook Band” which had a kind of funkified sound that matches a large portion of my music collection. I’ll have to catch them out again.

This was version 6 of the Sideshow- and it continues on tonight. The bands start at 6 pm, at 6:45 a bunch of my friends will be punking out as “Lurchbox“- bring earplugs, not because they’re bad- but because “loud and proud” would describe their preference for playing. Turn it up to 11 dudes.

Art wise- I’m someone who likes to look at art- but only likes a few things and know what I like right away. Photographers are a dime a dozen these days- but the work of Shawn Combs (I’m sure he’s no relation to any rapper) spoke to me. I liked every one of his images- take a look.

The Yellow Cab company is back behind garden station at 700 E. Fourth Street.

The coffee bar Press on E. Fifth street was filled to the brim with the hipster crew and the body heat and hot air was turning the place into an oven- which was ok, since they had a spread of baked goods that had that oven-baked freshness and OMG taste. I tried one (1) cookie that was like an oreo made of carrot cake with icing in the middle. Unbelievable.

Fifth Street was overrun with people, fire jugglers, bands and the restaurants and bars were all on waits. Why it can’t be like that every Friday night is something we need to work on. The galleries were open- and  Austin from Derailed was giving free haircuts on the street- as long as you wanted a Mohawk and he had plenty of takers.

Down at Fifth and Jefferson, the former Chin’s has new signs announcing the Asian restaurant that was promised- years ago (2009) they had a band playing with a huge projector beaming a silent art film from the Transportation Center Garage over onto the Convention Center. I liked it. A natural fit- unlike the attempt to do it on E. Fifth Street long ago-  on the wall of the building next to Boulevard Haus.

The activated spaces weren’t that activated- but, give them an “A” for effort. A martini bar is promised in the former porn shop at E. Third and St. Clair- coming in summer. We’ll see. Down on Courthouse Square a band was playing cover tunes and had the people dancing. I saw about 4 of the “yellow bikes” parked there- one with a hanging chain- and when I came back by closer to 10 they were gone. I’ll write about them separately.

Olive, an Urban Dive has the kitchen in- but is now scheduled to open in June. A slight delay – four weeks, because the city redid the sidewalk out front and ripped out the gas line- making an assumption that the building was toast. You have to wonder how many other buildings the city has self terminated a valuable and essential service from without any warning to the property owner?

Passing one of our favorite dining options- which usually closes at 7pm- the White Lotus (aka Yummy Burger) on E. Third street was packed close to 9:30 with every seat in the place packed. Considering it’s a one person operation I know someone is going to be exhausted today.

The Cannery Art and Design gallery was winding down as I strolled in- as a last stop before heading back to Sideshow. Ran into the Mayor – who was doing his part of getting out and supporting the arts. He had scootered down with his daughter- and was having a blast.

I’m not one to make head count estimates on an event this size- other than to say- it was refreshing to see so many people engaged and enjoying things downtown. We can have a fun and vibrant downtown- all it takes is a desire to make it happen. Sure, you can go stroll around the Greene- in it’s disney land impersonation of a Downtown- but, it’s a fantasy land.

When people lament about what’s missing downtown and why they don’t go down there- they are missing something- the only thing missing is you. If you come- it will be alive again. Let’s turn First Friday into an urban nights for at least 6 times a year- and then every Friday from May to September- then start adding Saturday nights too.

You can start by heading to the Sideshow tonight.

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