Do you fit into one of the following categories: A) You're in those awkward social years when you are old enough to vote but not to have a beer while watching your favorite band; or B) you have little children and don't want to spend another night watching reruns of King of Queens; or C) you are a recovering alcoholic? Then you know it takes a little creativity to have a night out in Indianapolis. Coffee shops
The first thing you have to do is go outside your comfort zone. Yeah, Denny's is a lifesaver at times. They have highchairs and there are usually people there you can make fun of. But, when it comes to hanging out, atmosphere is pretty important.
So is a late night. And the Abbey (825 N. Pennsylvania) is one of the only coffee shops that provide one. For instance, while everyone else is closing shop at 5 p.m. on Sunday, the Abbey is open till midnight. On Friday and Saturday, the Abbey - which recently moved to an off-the-beaten-path location but still retains its legendary charm - is open till 1 a.m.
Just a block north, you can hit Urban Element (901 N. Pennsylvania St.). It's open Tuesday-Saturday, 11 a.m.-9 p.m. Urban Element has great food and is very generous with their refills on coffee. Enjoyable poetry readings happen there on Wednesday nights from 7:30 p.m. until around 9 p.m. Vecino's Coffee Gallery (542 N. Alabama St.) stays open until 10 p.m. on Friday and Saturday nights. Located across the street from the Murat at the bottom of a Riley Tower, it sometimes showcases the work of local artists.
Don't roll your eyes, but Starbucks (854 Broad Ripple Ave.) is open until midnight on Friday and Saturday, then 11 p.m. on Sunday. And it sports a cozy fireplace with windows all around so you either duck-and-cover when you see someone you don't want to or knock loudly on the window to get your buddy's attention. The Starbucks in Fishers (9001 E. 116th St., near the intersection of Interstate 69 and 116th Street) began its 24/7-hour operation earlier this month.
Gallery openings and art events are not just for the old, rich or even the cultured anymore. You don't have to understand the art or even like it. But my bet is there will be something that will catch your fancy.
These events - which range from big to-dos to more intimate happenings - usually feature free drinks, free food and, sometimes, live music. You can bring your kids. No one will care unless your kids enjoy destroying things. There are exceptions to that rule at events like Art vs. Art (May 6, 9 p.m. at Fountain Square Theatre, $10), where the audience votes and the rest of the art either gets purchased or destroyed. Your little Damien(s) can fall asleep to the hum of a shredder and ringside announcer.
Of course, the biggest arts opening of the year happens on April 29 and 30 at the Stutz Business Center (10th Street and Capitol Ave.) It costs $5 to tour the huge building and enjoy refreshments and live entertainment throughout. The Harrison Center for the Arts (1505 N. Delaware St.) has a car-themed group show with open studios May 6 from 6-9 p.m. as part of a free shuttle tour on the first Friday of May, June and then picking up again in September. The shuttles will take you to 20-plus galleries around the city. The Harrison Center also offers the Independent Art and Music Festival on June 11 from 11 a.m.-10 p.m. On the way downtown, the LAMP Gallery (901 N. East St.) is always a fun place to party and enjoy art. It often stays open later than 10 p.m.
The Murphy Art Center in Fountain Square is home for Galerie Penumbra and the Big Car Gallery and also houses the tasty restaurant Decadent By Design - now open until 9:30 p.m. Fountain Square is also home of the Wheeler Arts Center, the J. Martin Gallery and the Domont Gallery. After they all close, the Peppy Grill (1004 Virginia Ave.) is always open. There, you can play country music on the jukebox and enjoy homemade pie or biscuits and gravy with the locals.
Books, coffee and music
Vick's Downtown Espresso Bar (627 N. East St.) is open till 11 p.m. on the weekend. And, next door, Out Word Bound is open till 10 p.m. on the weekends. Where else can you get hard-to-find magazines like Bust and Gearhead and nude male or female magnets that you can place on the fridge for playing dress-up later? Then have a seat outside at Vic's with your espresso and watch the world go by.
In Broad Ripple, another perfect pair are Monon Coffee Company (920 E. Westfield Blvd.) and the independently owned Big Hat Bookstore next door. These are both open till 10 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays.
INDY CD and Vinyl (808 Broad Ripple Ave.) is open Fridays and Saturdays until 10 p.m. and even has a place for the kids to play while you browse. Luna Music's locations (1315 W. 86th St. or downtown, 433 Massachusetts Ave.) are open until 10 p.m. on Friday and Saturday. Sometimes it's better to spend money on music than on beer.
Venues for bar virgins and the born again
In a land where when you are under 21 there may seem to be not much to do, there are a handful of all-ages clubs that provide the valuable public service of distraction. Truth is, these places are just as worthwhile as any "bar/concert venue."
The Emerson Theater
4634 E. 10th St.; 357-0239
Whether you're an anarchist, the anti-Christ or looking to be in the know, the Emerson is a great venue. They brought us The Donnas way before Rolling Stone had even heard of them. And tonight, April 27, they have scheduled the rock groups Lovedrug, Veda and Copeland to name a few. Doors open at 7 p.m., $10 cover. Friday, April 29, look for Tricycle Mafia, Kill It Tomorrow and Solemnly Swear with doors at 7:30 p.m. and $7 cover. The Emerson is like the Vogue's cool little sister, and once you meet them both you can't figure out which one to date.
United States of Mind
291 W. 40th St.; 332-1960
There's not a single place in Indianapolis that compares to United States of Mind. Where else will you find African drumming, beat boxing and yoga classes. Throughout the year, an eclectic variety of live music shows by national acts range from indie rock to hip-hop. They also started a program that provides drums and lessons to families that otherwise would not be able to afford it. Free drum circles take place every Wednesday at 8:30 p.m., and spoken word events that have a little bit of everything start at 9:30 p.m. on Fridays. Not only all that, but they make some dang good chai tea and desserts.
1541?2 E. Jefferson St., Franklin; 317-446-1503
Club Logos, located south of Indianapolis in Franklin, is an all-ages venue (now non-smoking) that not only hosts live shows, but also has karaoke on Wednesdays and something called "House Party" after some shows, where a DJ comes in and plays Top 40-type music. Local acts usually play at this venue, but bands have come to LOGOS on tour from as far as Canada. And if you don't like the show, there's air hockey and pool tables by the door to keep you occupied, as well as video games; and by the stage, the effects never end. Strobe lights and lasers play over the audience during the whole show, making it an interesting experience.
The House Cafe (at Glendale Mall)
6101 N. Keystone Ave.; 722-1339
The House - cafe by day, venue by night ... and church on Sundays - is located in the front of Glendale Mall. The House is host to many different all-ages events, including poetry readings, jazz concerts and, yes, church, due to a recent partnership with Providence Christian Church. It was also one of the dozen or more venues for the 2004 Midwest Music Summit, giving the stage to local acts such as The Malcontents and Project Bottlecap. And you can eat, too. The cafe is open during mall hours and during events as well.
Stay in and start a salon
Salons are not just a place to get pampered and your hair done. Think house party, but the night doesn't end with you upstairs vomiting on someone you hardly know. Salons are house parties all grown up. Think multicoursed meals, readings, music, games and intellectual banter dressed in your Sunday best. The coolest part is, it's all up to you.
Theme: I'm not talking about hula theme. This isn't a frat party. Get creative. For example, think something like The Pharmaceutical Company versus Monkey Salon. Everyone dresses up like a monkey or their favorite drug (face makeup is fine). You play nothing but songs that have something to do with monkeys and/or drugs, read poems about drugs and monkeys, discuss should drug companies be allowed to experiment on monkeys. Whatever makes you laugh, inspires you - make it your theme.
A real example would be the 1975 New York Women's Literary Salon, a feminist salon, that at times had writers/poets Adrienne Rich, Marge Piercy and Alice Walker all in one room!
Guests and Your Style: Anything is possible with a salon. You may want to bring in a guest speaker or musician. Or just have it be nothing but your friends. The sky and your pocketbook are the limit on what you can do.
You can have a schedule and host the whole evening or sit back and see what happens with a loose plan. If you have people of different views it certainly makes it interesting. As long as you aren't just hosting three people, it will work fine. To make sure that doesn't happen, it would be helpful to have people RSVP.
Where it is: You don't need two turntables and a microphone but it helps. So how can you possibly afford to do this if you have no money and a small apartment? Have a pitch-in, or just provide some snacks. Then plan things that don't cost money.
If your house is not an option, use a friend's house or take the salon to a coffee shop or another favorite place. Tell the owner what you're doing and it may even become a draw to likeminded people if you put a salon flyer on the bulletin board. Pick somewhere that has a piano or karaoke, and make sure everyone buys something to ensure you stay welcome to the place.