On the last Tuesday of each month, 5 presenters with 5 ideas have 5 minutes each to present 5 slides to 5 judges for the chance to win up to $5,000 in grant money—no strings attached. 5×5 Night is presented by Pomegranate Studios.
Last night was a unique 5×5 night because it was the first night decided by the community who voted online. Last evening’s presenters were were the Top 5 Vote Getters. There were 33 ideas submitted in total. There were 10,000 visits, 50,000 page views and 1,600 signed up to vote on the website.
The powerhouse judging panel was in charge of distributing the $5,000 prize — Diana Sieger, President of the Grand Rapids Community Foundation, Jay Frankhouse, Principle of Fuel D, Rick DeVos, Catherine Creamer, Executive Director of ArtPrize and Sam Cummings, Principle of CWD Real Estate.
The presenters: Matt Davidson, The Bar Card, Jarrad Matthew, Rag Trade GR, Jarl Brey, Zip the Grand, Molly Clauhs, Skill Share, and Julie Raynor, Camp Shout Out
In a journalism career that spanned the better part of four decades — most of it as editor in chief of the Grand Rapids Press — Mike Lloyd met with world leaders, business moguls, politicians, celebrities — and got invited to parties even the Salahis couldn’t crash. He managed a staff of editors, writers, photographers, and artists that numbered over 150 by the time he retired from the paper in mid 2009.
Fast forward to late 2011. Lloyd has a new job, a staff of four, often has to answer the phone, and has to make do with a budget that never seems to stretch far enough. But that’s just fine with him. As executive director of Broadway Grand Rapids he understands this is how a local arts organization survives.
“You have to nurture your customers,” Lloyd explains.” If it’s after 5 and someone calls, you pick up the phone. You answer it and ask how you can help.” Help, he adds, is whatever it takes. “If you paid $50 for a ticket and can’t go, we’ll arrange for a ticket for another time…we’re on your side.”
Conceding a side may seem out of character from a man with a reputation for a hard-nosed approach to conflict and a personality many politely described as gruff. But give and take are part of any business and even if there needs to be a little more give, Lloyd suggests the work isn’t far removed from his old job. There’s still drama, especially with tight budgets. Still deadlines. Still an audience to engage.
“You cannot expect people to pay double the price of Civic (Theatre) tickets unless you demonstrate it is justified,” Lloyd maintains. “We have to demonstrate we’re worth the money.” After all, he adds:
“Isn’t news theater? Every person is a story…and a potential customer.”
Joining Broadway Grand Rapids in early 2010 was just the type of challenge Lloyd was looking for when he left the Press. Even though he served on numerous local boards he was ready for something more. Broadway Grand Rapids had been in business since 1989 but it was suffering through some lean years at the box office, and had an image in need of redefining.
“I was looking for something where I could make a difference,” Lloyd explains. “This was the perfect spot. I’ve not necessarily been a participant but always a supporter of the arts. If you’re going to push Grand Rapids as a destination city you have to have this base.”
The arts have long been a passion of Lloyd’s. Among his many roles at the Press before he became its editor was a stint as music critic. He was also a season ticket holder for many of the city’s performing arts organizations, including Broadway Grand Rapids from its opening season. During this time Lloyd witnessed the evolution of the arts in the community. The symphony became a fully paid, full-time orchestra. Civic Theatre renovated and moved into its new space. The ballet expanded its schedule and developed an ambitious series of classes and programs. The opera opened new headquarters.
The centerpiece of this growth was its new performance venue: DeVos Performance Hall. The Hall changed the game for the arts community. It comfortably accommodated close to 2,500 patrons and was equipped to handle most any type of performance.
It also leads to a scramble for prime dates. And when it came time for the venue’s governing body, the Grand Rapids-Kent County Convention/Arena Authority (CAA), to award performance dates, Broadway Grand Rapids was typically on the outside looking in.
It was a problem Lloyd intended to solve. “Dates are critical,” Lloyd maintains. “For some groups their entire year depends on one date. Until this year it had been the ballet, the opera, and the symphony,” Lloyd added. “We weren’t really part of the process.”
This changed with Lloyd’s presentation to the CAA.
“Look at ArtPrize,” he said. “No rooms to be had. No reservations available. Everything jammed. Yet how many local people won major awards? It’s the same with us. People say we don’t use local talent, but the money isn’t going out of town. And we hire locally. We had 35 local stage hands at our last production.
“It’s all about bringing vitality to downtown,” Lloyd concludes, and sees the community’s organizations as complementary rather than contentious. The ballet, for example, traded early December dates with Broadway Grand Rapids, a move Lloyd says will be reciprocated.
With that, Lloyd is quick to point out that there is enough audience to go around.
“I’m not here to bash any other group…there’s room for everybody,” he says. “We had “Grease” here and went head to head with Lady Gaga at Van Andel. Both venues were full.”
Getting the right shows helps, too. Earlier this year Broadway Grand Rapids formed a partnership with Michigan State University’s Wharton Center for the Performing Arts. Its executive director, Mike Brand earns high praise from Lloyd for his ability to bring in shows that can also play in Grand Rapids.
What shows would Lloyd like to see? “ “Wicked”…“The Lion King”…“Phantom Of the Opera”…“Jersey Boys”…I’d do “Le Miz” every week if I could.”
Lloyd’s dedication to seeing the arts succeed in the city goes back to his earliest days at the Press. He came to Grand Rapids in 1967, just two years removed from earning a degree in journalism from the University of Missouri. Grand Rapids bashing was in vogue then, particularly among young professionals, but Lloyd took the negativity as a challenge.
“Around ’69 a lot of people were leaving, he recalls.” They were saying ‘there’s nothing here.’ I told myself ‘I’m not a consolation prize.’ I was going to work to give them a reason to regret their decision.”
He’s still working at it. And the spotlight is shining on Broadway Grand Rapids just a little brighter these days.
Lloyd’s personal life has brightened as well. He remarried in 2009 and is enjoying life with his extended family. His first wife, Judy, was killed in an auto accident in 2005 and Lloyd still thinks about her. He says one of the many things he learned from her was the importance of the people in your life.
“I used to tell her I loved her every morning,” Lloyd says, “I do this with Kathy now, even if I have to wake her up to tell her.”
And that plays well anywhere.
Broadway Grand Rapids is featuring “Les Miserables” beginning November 29. For ticket information and a season schedule, visit: www.broadwaygrandrapids.com
— GF, contributing writer : Photography: Tim Motley
If you have never been to a local hip-hop show, it should be top on your to-do list in Grand Rapids. Last night, Stellafly went out to go see Danny Brown (Detriot), Jon Conner (Flint), and Tekh Togo (Grand Rapids) at the Pyramid Scheme. The night also featured the All Grand Rapids Hip Hop Team which featured: A.B. And DJ Snax as hosts, Suport, Eastown J, Rick Chyme, Ran Ru, the Seventh, and a slew of brothers, crew members, and God-knows-who-else.
The night felt like an underground club, with anyone who had a something to say would just come up, grab the mic, and speak their peace. But when it came time for Tekh Togo, Jon Conner, and Danny Brown, they pulled the room together and truly headlined the show. Tekh Togo has a smart, snarky, and elegant style. Jon Conner‘s clean speed was very impressive. Danny Brown rolled out onstage with all the attitude that a rap headliner should have. All of the performers had a stage presence that should make most bands rethink what a good show is like. I found myself enjoying the night, in part, thanks to Pyramid Scheme’s bone crushing sound system, but also thanks to the fact that I did not have (our photographer’s) Michael Cook‘s job. The rappers paced like caged animals, jumped around, went to the very edge of the stage and wandered back off again. Even the fairly unknown rappers were able to engage the crowd with their onstage presence, before a word was even uttered.
I feel as though there are not enough outlets for the hip-hop scene in Grand Rapids and I hope that this is not the last event of it’s kind at the Pyramid Scheme.
— Dan Hurst, contributing writer : photography, Mikey Cook
Once upon a time, a fairly major goth/industrial/alternative underground existed in our fair hamlet. If you started hanging out at certain clubs and bars in Grand Rapids in the late eighties through the mid nineties, and you thought every day was Halloween, you know exactly what I’m talking about.
You started in your teens, going to Top of the Rock (later named Club 911, and still later named Club DV8), first on Thursday nights (unless you had parents like mine, who were NOT down with clubbing on school nights), then on Friday nights, then on Saturday nights. You heard The Sisters of Mercy, The Smiths, and Ministry for the first time. You participated in your first slam pit, spinning and crashing to “I Will Refuse” by Pailhead. You slow danced with fellow travelers, swaying to Tori Amos, Alphaville, and Toad The Wet Sprocket. You stayed out until 3 and 4 a.m., often without drinking a drop of alcohol, and you found a place to call home – friends to call family.
As you hit your late teens/early twenties, you went to The Reptile House on Tuesday nights for Reptile A-Go-Go. You fell in love with the small, dirty haven for all of the so-called freaks, named after a Sisters of Mercy EP, with paintings of snakes and lizards and other things that go bump in the night on the walls. You danced to My Life With The Thrill Kill Kult, Meat Beat Manifesto, and KMFDM. Once you were of age, you drank Skull beer (it was Natural Light, you know) and Blue Motorcycle cocktails. You saw so many bands; The Reptile House their only Michigan stop outside of Detroit: Die Warzau, Bile, Billy Goat, Christian Death, Electrafixion, Sister Machine Gun, and Pigface.
Around the same time, you started to go to Orbit Room on Wednesday nights, for Alternative A to X – the only night in the country that was playing a true alt mix every week: from Chemical Brothers to The Cure, Underworld to U2, Marilyn Manson to Massive Attack. You drank dollar drafts and too-sweet shots, met up, broke up and made up, watched the masquerade and lost yourself in it.
Am I over-romanticizing the old days in Grand Rapids? Of course. But I’m also giving a true picture. Those days, those places, those people – they all changed my life. They all helped to make me into who I am today. Confession: I was always the girl in the cage at Top, Reptile, and Orbit. If you looked up at those places to see a scantily clad young woman, dressed in black and dancing like she’s been set free, that was me.
But of course, days like those can never last. We all went back to Top one last time before it closed down and became a church, of all things. Now even that building is no more, torn down and replaced by a Hansen’s Towing. The Reptile House closed, too, brought down by overindulgence and a failure to maintain even the most minimal of structural standards. A to X hung on for awhile, but was eventually gone when attendance went down. People grow up. Get jobs, serious relationships, have kids. It becomes hard, if not impossible, to stay out until 2 a.m. on a weeknight. The goal of being the gothest person at the club gives way to the goal of getting a degree, a career, an adult life.
So ended the heyday of the Grand Rapids underground. We had no more dark pockets of night to call our own.
I started hearing rumors of Black Fridays at Sixx nightclub some months ago. I was intrigued, but didn’t really know anyone who had gone. I kept meaning to check it out, and kept failing to do so. Then I heard it ended. Then I heard it came back.
So last weekend, a bunch of us old school Top, Reptile and Orbit veterans decided to go. We pulled our old black clothes out of the backs of our closets (ahem, those that still fit us), powdered our faces, lined our eyes, knocked back a few drinks at my place while we got ready together, and headed to Sixx.
There’s just something right about Black Fridays at Sixx. The club is in a rehabbed warehouse district, so it feels like the dark and dirty corner of town you want it to be (while still being pretty safe – we all want to walk on the wild side as long as we don’t have to endanger ourselves to do it). It’s unmarked (as far as I can tell), which adds to the mystique, of course. The doorway spills red light out to the sidewalk, like a beacon to those looking for something edgier than standard club fare. And when we walked in to the red-lit bar, seeing the soaring ceilings, the multi-levels, the curtained leather booths and hearing dark, pulsing beats, it felt like coming home.
We staked out a base in one of the booths, grabbed drinks, and chatted with old friends and new. There’s always at least a half hour in a new club when you don’t dance, but get the lay of the land: Listen to the music, scope out the crowd, and have a drink. I wandered the club to get a feel for it, introduced myself to the DJ and regulars (with whom I’d been chatting on Facebook), and felt a sense of comfort. This was it. We were home.
The dance floor beckoned. We danced to old music and new, and the years seemed to fall away even as we reminisced about them. The Sisters of Mercy, KMFDM, My Life With The Thrill Kill Kult, The Birthday Massacre. Old friends with classic moves, and fierce smiles on every face. We spilled some drinks, just like we used to. We laughed so much it hurt. There was no drama or crying in the bathroom this time. It was the old days, without the angst. We felt release, we felt free, we felt joy. What does it take to make goths happy? Just the music, the style, and each other.
A tradition that dates back over 100 years, the Grand Rapids Jaycees Santa Parade has something for everyone. It serves as the official kick off to the holiday season in our fair city, and it is the first official appearance by Santa Claus in for the Christmas season. For the second consecutive year this event was sponsored by Art Van Furniture. Hundreds of kids brought their moms, dads, aunts, uncles, and grandparents to downtown Grand Rapids, and each one of them were there for one reason: to catch a glimpse of the man of the hour, jolly old Saint Nick.
No matter how old you are, this parade makes you feel like a kid all over again. Festively decorated floats from West Michigan organizations, and dozens of local celebrities made their way down the parade route. Everyone from Mayor George Heartwell to Miss Michigan to Clifford the Big Red Dog was excited to start celebrating the magic of the holidays. Christmas carols were being sung by some who were riding on floats and being played by high school marching bands. The occasional siren was heard from fire trucks, ambulances, and police cars that passed by kids who waved back to our local heroes. Local arts organizations including the Grand Rapids Ballet Company, Broadway Grand Rapids, and several gymnastics teams performed along the way. And of course there was plenty of candy.
At around 10:30 a.m., cheers erupted as everyone saw the man in red steer his sleigh down Ottawa Avenue. As Santa Claus passed by and waved to the crowd, you couldn’t help but be awestruck by the twinkle in his eye. The holiday season has officially begun, Grand Rapids…may yours be merry and bright!
On my short walk to The Urban Ranch I overheard a woman say to her boyfriend, “I have no idea what to expect at this dinner, but I sure am glad we were invited.” I know how she felt. The Urban Ranch, which is the home of Lisa Rose Starner and her family, hosted the Full Moon Supper Club’s one year anniversary party: “Paris, France, circa 1950” last Sunday evening. To grossly simplify, the FMSC is Grand Rapids’ first community-focused, slow food underground supper club. The underground part is no joke. Their event was sold out, capped at 30 people who all paid $45 to eat and drink a four-course gourmet meal. The kicker is that you must be invited.
In talking with a very exited and animated Torrence O’Haire, I learned that his goal in cooking for the FMSC is simple and elegant. O’Haire is a personal chef and operates under the name, The Starving Artist (the-starving-artist.net). He is an official slow food certified chef and likes to use the monthly dinners as a way to experiment with new dishes and techniques. The theme Sunday was “Fancy Things,” and everyone was dressed to the nines with gowns, gloves, champagne and good manners. Torrence went so far as to call it “theme-centric,” with geographic nights from Morocco, Saigon, Ireland, Rome, Bavaria, Argentina, plus “Foraging in Michigan” where everything was found within 50 miles.
The Full Moon Supper Club is a non-profit organization created with the idea that the money that guests pay goes directly back into the cost of the food and drink. “It makes it a sort of community event instead of a fine dining one,” said O’Haire smiling, “It’s a way to get people all sitting at a table together.”
I couldn’t pronounce a single dish that was served, so to give you an idea of exactly how fancy this dinner really was, here’s the menu…
Boeuf a l’americane
Filets of sole meuniere
Duck a l’Orange
Petit pois a la parisienne
Soufflés aux verts
Pate de fruits de mangue et canneberge
Vin Blanc de Macon
Vin Rouge de Chateuneuf-du-Pape
Formerly Monte’snightclub, The Establishment, unveiled last night.
The venue has the look and feel of a downtown loft, and that was the vision of owners Paul and David Reinert had for this reinvented locale. They took something that was once old, added polish, and made it shiny and cool again. Historic character, industrial details, but yet timeless attributes and repurposed furnishings. A comfortable place with a spice of style.
The patrons enjoyed signature hand-crafted cocktails, specialty beers, and excellent music.
Ashley Cole Design, a Grand Rapids firm, designed The Establishment along with Dan Carlson serving as general contractor. Cole’s design and Carlson’s work emphasizes the use of reclaimed materials and highlights the existing attributes of the historic building. The venue is modeled after a loft in New York’s trendy SOHO district.
The Establishment is located at 438 Bridge St. NW. The Reinert boys also own O’Toole’s Public House, 448 Bridge St. NW, and Rockwell’s and Republic, 45 S. Division.
Dakota Shayne and Jennifer Malinowskicame together naturally. Both ran fitness bootcamps in Grand Rapids and worked in corporate wellness. Jen held her camps at Wilcox Park. Dakota held court at Collins Park. Jen had an idea to bring the workouts indoors by utilizing the TRX suspension system and it was a match made in heaven.
Renewal Body Boot Camp is Grand Rapids‘ new fitness facility that focuses on strength and core stability. TRX. TRX Box. Boxing Fitness. Cardio Kickboxing to name just a few are available at all levels. A real deal Navy Seal workout, right here in Grand Rapids.
Their promise is that you will work, sweat, and best of all, burn calories like crazy while having a good time. Their goal is to push the body to its limit through plyometric moves, challenging TRX exercises and boxing bootcamp drills that work your entire body.
The two decided to consolidate their clientele and work together to continue the growth of the fresh fitness culture in Grand Rapids. Both are fans of 8th Day Gym and Funky Buddha! Their goal was not to compete with their neighboring fitness providers but rather offer something new that contributed to a developing wellness catalog in our community.
Jennifer and Dakota both hold full time positions so they split the studio hours in half. Dakota teaches the morning classes while Jen teaches in the evening. Their training methods and wellness backgrounds are similar so there are natural consistencies throughout our workouts.
The Doran Foundation of Saint Mary’s Health Care held its annual Shoppe Soirée on Monday night at Thousand Oaks Golf Club. The event benefited the Personal Care Area of the Lack’s Cancer Center, which was established to help cancer patients reclaim confidence in their outward appearance and regain a sense of themselves during or after treatment. The Personal Care Area provides cancer patients with services such as complimentary hair and wig styling, facials, and special manicures and pedicures for those undergoing chemotherapy or radiation. As the Doran Foundation’s Executive Director Michelle Rabideau said, “a good hair day is a good day.” (Ladies, you know this is true!) In addition to helping patients feel better on the outside, these services can help in the spiritual and emotional healing process.
Sounds of laughter, conversation, and Christmas music filled the room while mothers and daughters, sisters, and girlfriends mingled, enjoyed cocktails and hors d’ oeuvres, and of course browsed the extraordinary selection of great gifts from the Saint Mary’s Gift Shop. There was everything from handmade baby accessories and clothing to purses and travel bags to Christmas decorations. There was definitely something for everyone!
The Doran Foundation is doing great things for patients and their families. The Shoppe Soirée was not only a fabulous night out, but it left you with a great feeling knowing that your purchase would have a positive impact on the lives of others.