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Things To Do In Worcester When It's Dead

Even though my colleagues and I highlight something like 20 events happening in Worcester every week, people insist on saying nothing happens here. For them, here are some amazing things that happened in Worcester over the past few weeks which I went to, and you probably didn't.

Roxane Gay at Mechanics Hall (Friday, March 23): Gay is one of the country's preeminent feminist writers, and she's a highly engaging speaker. In a lot of ways, I'm not a fan of the "in conversation with" format, but that aside it was a blessing to have such a vital literary and social mind right here in the city, in a benefit for Quinsigamond College's Literary Philanthropy Project, to help provide scholarships to students facing economic hardships. It's a good cause, and it was good to see such a large turnout for a literary event, and even more so to see so many young people actively engaged in politics.

Dianne Williamson's Retirement Party at the Compass Tavern (Saturday, March 24): OK, this was a mostly private affair, although half the city turned up anyway, but I include it because A.) I'm fond of the Compass Tavern, and B.) Dianne is one of the most interesting and influential journalists in Worcester. She did some amazing work for years at the paper, and I'm sorry to see her go. The evening was also a bit of a Worcester Who's Who, as politicians, legendary retired journalists and an assortment of colorful city characters turned up to wish her farewell, and Mayor Joe Petty even gave her the key to the city. Which was something to see.

The Midnight Mystery Cabaret at Nick's Bar and Restaurant (Saturday, March 31): Perhaps a bit unfair to include this, as it was an event I hosted, but – after a scorching hot jazz set by the Russo Brothers – the stage was graced by an eclectic cavalcade of performers, representing a host of shows and organizations from around the city, including the Dirty Gerund Poetry Series, 7 Hills Slam, the Federation of Belligerent Writers, Queens of Worcester, Comedy in the Cabaret and Commutiny Hip-Hop. Afterwards, well passed midnight, I brought on Eddie Japan for an absolutely electrifying set. There was, of course, a point with this show ... two of 'em, actually. The first was to shine a light on some of the Worcester scene's more offbeat corners, to illustrate that there's plenty here to explore, and then to introduce Worcester to an act from nearby that I feel is worth their knowing. I intend to do a bit more of this, in the future. Indeed, things are in the works.

Method Man and Redman at The Palladium (Friday, April 6): I reviewed this one for the paper, but I just want to add that I've been heartened by the increasing diversity of the Palladium's schedule. the last few shows I've covered there have been hip-hop, actually, and that's made me very happy. Worcester has had a hip-hop scene for a long time, but it was largely underground, doing its own things. Increasingly, though, local performers have been stepping up, and seizing the limelight, and it's been a real blessing to see that take shape.

Find The Secret Agent: Escape The City (Saturday, April 7): I'm going to write about this a little bit down the road, but I love these games that Jason Eastty has been putting together because not only am I puzzle addict (although I'm not as talented at it as I'd like), but I like that the game takes me to corners of the city I don't normally visit, this time everything from the Cascades waterfall to a tattoo parlor on Park Avenue. It was a great time, and I came really close to finishing it this time. next time, I'll be unstoppable!

Playbull Mansion: a Burlesque Show & Party at Bull Mansion (Saturday, April 7): Niki Luparelli's swinging Playboy mansion-themed party at Bull Mansion was an absolute gas.I wasn't able to stay the whole evening – it was my third event in two days – but I caught a couple sets by the surf guitar band Tsunami of Sound, which was awesome, and performances by a number of the region's most talented burlesque dancers and drag queens. It was an exceedingly cool evening, and more proof that there are some amazing things happening here, if only people would bother to look.

Worcester is an interesting place filled with people doing interesting things, and it's terrible how many people blind themselves to that for the sake of mere cynicism. If you haven't gotten out to explore the city recently ... well, spring is here. Go out and look. You may be surprised.

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