NYC Events,”Only the Best” (12/15) + Today’s Featured Pub (Midtown West)

“We search the internet everyday looking for the very best of What’s Happening, primarily on Manhattan’s WestSide, so that you don’t have to.” We make it as easy as 1-2-3.

For future NYC Events better check the tab above: “NYC Events-December”
It’s the most comprehensive list of top events this month that you will find anywhere.
Carefully curated from “Only the Best” NYC event info on the the web, it’s a simply superb resource that will help you plan your NYC visit all over town, all through the month.
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Have time for only one NYC Event today? Do this:

HOLIDAY CHEER FOR FUV
at Beacon Theater / 8PM, $80+
“Like many public radio stations, Fordham University’s WFUV-FM depends largely on its listeners’ generosity to fund its continued operation. The latest installment of the station’s yearly fund-raising concert, coming to the Upper West Side on Friday night, will feature an impressive roster of singer-songwriters with subtle senses of humor — Wilco’s Jeff Tweedy, Aimee Mann and Randy Newman — as well as the Los Angeles indie-pop group Lo Moon.” (NYT-SIMON VOZICK-LEVINSON)

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6 OTHER TOP NYC EVENTS TODAY (see below for full listing)
>>Gary Bartz
>> ALVIN AILEY AMERICAN DANCE THEATER
>>BIG FREEDIA
>>Winter Solstice Celebration
>>Trisha Brown Dance Company
>>YO LA TENGO
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Music, Dance, Performing Arts

Gary Bartz (Dec.14-17)
Smoke, 2751 Broadway, between 105th and 106th Sts./ 7, 9, 10:30PM, $38
“Although the alto saxophone is Bartz’s main instrument, he has looked to one of the supreme titans of the tenor saxophone, John Coltrane, as a main influence for the better part of his six-decade career. (Bartz, taking after his unofficial mentor, also plays the soprano saxophone.) This tribute to Coltrane includes the guitarist Paul Bollenback and the drummer Lenny White.” (NewYorker)

ALVIN AILEY AMERICAN DANCE THEATER (through Dec. 31)
at New York City Center/ 8PM, $29+
“The Ailey company, under the artistic direction of Robert Battle, continues at City Center with encore presentations of Jawole Willa Jo Zollar’s “Shelter,” Gustavo Ramírez Sansano’s “Victoria,” Twyla Tharp’s “The Golden Section” and many others — including works by Ailey himself. But the excellent dancers are the main draw, from veterans including the husband-and-wife team of Linda Celeste Sims and Glenn Allen Sims, to more recent additions, like Ashley Mayeux and Chalvar Monteiro.” (NYT-GIA KOURLAS)

Elsewhere, but this looks worth the detour.
BIG FREEDIA
at Brooklyn Bowl / 11:59PM, $25
“A performance by the Beyoncé-approved New Orleans musician Big Freedia is a boisterous, kinetic event: Bodies move, beats knock, spirits lift. In times as dreary as these, such celebrations are welcome. It’s a good thing that Freedia is in town for this midnight show (rescheduled from a planned October date). Go forth and bounce.” (NYT-SIMON VOZICK-LEVINSON)

Winter Solstice Celebration (Dec.14-16)
Cathedral Church of St. John the Divine / 8PM, $40+
“Having trouble deciding which one of your friends’ apartments to use to host this year’s solstice bonfire and ritual sacrifice? Avoid all that messy virgin blood, and try a more modern tradition: Paul Winter’s annual concert. You’ll see a slew of dance and musical guests, including the Paul Winter Consort—with Winter himself on sax, right where he belongs.” (TONY)

Trisha Brown Dance Company (Dec. 12-17)
Joyce Theatre, 175 Eighth Ave., at 19th St./ 7:30PM, $51+
“Even before Brown died, in March, after a slow retirement forced by illness, the future of her company, and the top-shelf choreography it preserves, appeared precarious. But the troupe seems to be bouncing back, touring busily and presenting more than the greatest hits. This program focusses on a less celebrated period in Brown’s work, from 2000 to 2009. The music is disparate: the Latin-tinged jazz of Dave Douglas in “Groove and Countermove,” the Baroque opera of Rameau in “L’Amour au Théâtre.” What’s consistent is Brown’s wit and invention.” (NewYorker)

YO LA TENGO (Dec. 12-19)
at the Bowery Ballroom / 8:30PM, $40
“Throughout the 2000s, indie-rock fans looked forward each winter to Yo La Tengo’s eight-night Hanukkah residency at Maxwell’s, a club in its native Hoboken, N.J. Maxwell’s closed in 2013, and so ended the band’s yearly tradition — but like the oil in the legend, Yo La Tengo’s Hanukkah shows are burning bright once again this month, at a new location. All eight nights are sold out, but it’s worth keeping an eye on the resale market for miracles.” (NYT-SIMON VOZICK-LEVINSON)

Continuing Holiday Events

Bank of America Winter Village at Bryant Park (6th Ave. & 42nd St.)
Midtown Manhattan’s winter wonderland.
Enjoy Bryant Park through the winter with the Holiday Shops food and gift boutiques (thru Jan.02), Danny Meyer’s pop-up rinkside eatery Public Fare (thru Mar.04), and The Rink, the centerpiece of Winter Village and New York City’s only free admission ice skating rink.
The Rink
This 17,000 square foot rink features free admission ice skating, high quality rental skates, and free skating shows, special events, and activities.
​October 28, 2017 – March 4, 2018
Daily, 8am-10pm (Rink hours are weather permitting)
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New York City Ballet / “The Nutcracker” (Through Dec. 31)
NYS/DHK Theater, Lincoln Center / various times and prices
“As a young dancer in St. Petersburg in the nineteen-tens, George Balanchine performed the lead in the Harlequins’ “Hoop Dance” in the Mariinsky Ballet’s “Nutcracker.” By all accounts, he was rather proud of his performance, and in 1954, when he created his own “Nutcracker” for the New York City Ballet, he included the dance verbatim in the second act, and renamed it “Candy Cane.” With its double hoop jumps, it is still one of the most beloved sections of the ballet, performed by one adult dancer and eight children from the school. This merging of past and present, adult prowess and youthful flair, has helped insure this production’s enduring appeal for more than sixty years. It returns for a monthlong run.” (NewYorker)

“George Balanchine’s The Nutcracker” continues performances throughout the month. It never disappoints, from its onstage snowstorm to the one-ton Christmas tree that grows from 12 to 40 feet. And there’s also, of course, Balanchine’s remarkable choreography, which brings the Tchaikovsky score to dancing life. This week, many of the principal dancers get a shot at Sugar Plum — Sara Mearns, Megan Fairchild and Lauren Lovette, among them — but not to be overlooked is the soloist Indiana Woodward, who is scheduled to do the honors on Dec. 7 opposite Chase Finlay as her Cavalier. She’s a delight.” (NYT 12/01-Gia Kourlas)

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(11/10/17-1/1/18) The NYC perennial holiday favorite Christmas Spectacular Starring The Radio City Rockettes® returns. Fan favorites include “New York at Christmas,” where the Rockettes® board a real double-decker bus, and the high-energy tap number “Twelve Days of Christmas.” Of course, beloved classics like “The Parade of the Wooden Soldiers” and “The Living Nativity” will also be back. rockettes.com/christmas

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Let there be light!
Luminaries installation at Brookfield Place in the Winter Garden, a stunning holiday arrangement, comprising 650 LED lanterns hanging from the ceiling. Make sure to pack your skates and enjoy ice-skating next door, along the waterfront.
AND
Erwin Redl’s Whiteout, a newly commissioned public art project, will light up in Madison Square Park. It consists of hundreds of transparent white spheres, each embedded with a white LED light, and suspended from a square grid of steel poles. The swaying sequence of light will be on display until April 2018.

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Bonus NYC Events – Jazz Venues:
Many consider NYCity the Jazz capital of the world. Here are my favorite Jazz clubs, all on Manhattan’s WestSide. Check out who is playing tonight:

Greenwich Village:
(5 are underground, classic jazz joints. all 6 are within walking distance of each other):
Village Vanguard – UG, 178 7th Ave. South, villagevanguard.com, 212-255-4037
Blue Note – 131 W3rd St. nr 6th ave. bluenotejazz.com, 212-475-8592
55 Bar – basement @55 Christopher St. nr 7th ave.S. 55bar.com, 212-929-9883
Mezzrow – basement @ 163 W10th St. nr 7th Ave. mezzrow.com,646-476-4346
Smalls – basement @ 183 W10th St. smallslive.com, 646-476-4346
Cornelia Street Cafe – UG, 29 Cornelia St. corneliastreetcafe.com, 212-989-9319

Outside Greenwich Village:
Dizzy’s Club – Broadway @ 60th St. — jazz.org/dizzys / 212-258-9595
Birdland – 315 W44th St.(btw 8/9ave) — birdlandjazz.com / 212-581-3080
Smoke Jazz Club – 2751 Broadway nr.106th St. — smokejazz.com / 212-864-6662

Special Mention:
Caffe Vivaldi – 32 Jones St. nr Bleecker St. — caffevivaldi.com / 212-691-7538
a classic, old jazz club in the Village, Caffe V often surprises with a wonderfully eclectic lineup. It’s my favorite spot for an evening of listening enjoyment and discovery.

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♦ Before making final plans, we suggest you call the venue to confirm ticket availability, dates and times, as schedules are subject to change.
♦ NYCity, with a population of  8.5 million, had a record 60 million visitors last year and is TripAdvisor’s Traveler’s Choice Top U.S. Destination for 2017.  Quality shows draw crowds.
Try to reserve seats for these top NYC events in advance, even if just on day of performance.
NYCity Vacation Travel Guide Video (Expedia):

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A PremierPub / Midtown West

Russian Vodka Room / 265 W 52nd St (btw 7th/8th ave)

Sure, you could travel to Minsk or even Brighton Beach, for an authentic Russian experience, but why bother. On those days when you feel you must wash down your dish of kasha with a few glasses of icy, cold vodka, the Russian Vodka Room will definitely satisfy your urge.

From the outside this place looks a bit drab, and with no windows, a bit mysterious. Midtown tourists walk right by on their way to see “Jersey Boys,” just down the block.
(Alas, no more. After 10 years, “Jersey Boys” closed Jan.15)

lThose in the know enter a secret hideaway, a dimly lit front room with soft jazz playing – a perfect spot for an illicit late-night rendezvous, or maybe a meet-up with your Russian spy handler, but that’s later in the evening. Early in the evening the large U-shaped bar fills with the after work happy hour crowd, a group made very happy by the much reduced prices.

Their website says: “Welcome Comrades”. Of course, this welcome focuses on dozens of different vodkas, including their own special infusions, which marinate in giant, clear glass jugs visible around the room. The large vodka martinis ensure that you won’t confuse this place with your mother’s Russian Tea Room.

But man does not live by vodka alone. Eat some food, especially the tapa like appetizers. Be decadent and try the cheese blintzes with chocolate, or try a main dish like beef stroganoff with kasha.

Your best bet is to go on a night when the piano man is playing. This guy, who looks like he has eaten a lot of those cheese blintzes, plays five nights a week from 7 to 12 (no Mondays and Thursdays). When the piano man is playing American pop tunes, and you are at the crowded, dimly lit bar testing the horseradish infused vodka, that’s when the RVR shines.

It’s the kind of place where the noise gets louder and the crowd gets happier as the happy hour goes on. I’m generally a beer guy, but I like to come here with a group of friends. We find a table in the back room near the piano man; we eat, and we drink vodka ‘till it hurts (and it will hurt).
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Website: http://www.russianvodkaroom.com/
Phone #: 212-307-5835
Hours: 4pm-2am; Fri-Sun closes 4am (that could be trouble)
Happy Hour: 4-7pm every day
$4 shots infused vodka (2oz), $5 cosmos; $4 czech draft beer
Music: FR-SU; TU-WE / 7pm-12am
Subway: #1 to 50th St.
Walk 2 blk N. on B’way to 52nd St.; 1 blk W. to RVR
Confusingly, the Russian Samovar is right across the street, on the S. side of 52nd St.
The RVR, your destination, is on the N. side of 52nd St.
Update: music now includes a younger, trimmer piano man. “Tiny” we miss you.
Update#2: Rumor that “Tiny” is back playing only on Friday nights – need to check it out.

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“Pub” is used in it’s broadest sense – bars, bar/restaurants, jazz clubs, wine bars, tapas bars, craft beer bars, dive bars, cocktail lounges, and of course, pubs – just about anyplace you can get a drink without a cover charge (except for certain jazz clubs).
If you have a fave premier pub or good eating place on Manhattan’s WestSide let us all know about it – leave a comment.
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