Urban Nights: Proving Downtown Dayton Is Alive and Kicking

It’s no marketing scheme: Urban Nights really is one of the best nights to be downtown.

Downtown Dayton’s biggest street party returns from 5 to 10 p.m. this Friday, May 13. More than 100 venues in downtown Dayton, the Oregon Arts District and Wright-Dunbar Business Village will host special events, offer discounts and open their doors for an insider’s look. A variety of performers will entertain crowds on stages throughout downtown, and roaming performers also will liven up the event.

Below are some highlights of the May 13 Urban Nights, but there’s more going on than can ever be featured in one article ― and nearly everything is free. Click here to download a map of participating venues and a complete performance schedule, including a listing of all participating locations’ events and specials, a schedule for all the stages, and parking deals. Follow Urban Nights on Facebook for regular updates and more information.

Urban Nights gives people a chance to get artsy. Second Street will become a huge canvas when students from Stivers School for the Arts’ painting department create a paint-by-numbers style template on the street. The public then will be able to help Stivers students complete the mural, located in front of the Schuster Performing Arts Center between Main and Ludlow streets. The Paint the Street mural is sponsored by KeyBank and will be created with environmentally friendly liquid chalk that washes away with rainfall.

Juggling duo The Dropbacks will toss and catch with the crowd during Urban Nights.

Juggling duo The Dropbacks will toss and catch with the crowd during Urban Nights.

Also on Second Street, visitors also can create a piece of whimsical public art using jelly beans and have their pictures taken in a free photo booth. At the popular Community Stage, located at the corner of Third and Jefferson streets, an eclectic mix of 10-minute performances will be held from 5 to 7 p.m., then anyone can take the mic for open karaoke from 7 to 10 p.m. The Dropbacks, a comedic juggling duo, will toss and catch with the crowd throughout Urban Nights locations. Other hands-on activities will be available at participating venues. For example, the Dayton Metro Library will offer arts-and-crafts activities for children and adults.

Art is the heart of Urban Nights, and all of downtown’s numerous galleries will host exhibit openings and an array of more unusual offerings, such as a 7 to 8:30 p.m. performance by the Dayton Mandolin Orchestra at the Dayton Visual Arts Center. Some Urban Nights newbies are the Dayton Art Institute, which will offer a mixed bag of activities ranging from guided tours of its current exhibition to eye makeovers; Real Art Design Group, featuring jousting with shopping carts as part of “Urban Knights at Urban Nights;” and Atta Girl Art and Gardens Complex, where artists will open their studios for the public to have a look-see. At K12 Gallery for Young People’s new TEJAS studio, art by Rebecca Sargent will be featured.

Vote for your fave Activated Spaces window display during Urban Nights.

Vote for your fave Activated Spaces window display during Urban Nights.

Art also happens in unusual places during Urban Nights. Activated Spaces has worked with local artists to display their work in previously vacant storefronts throughout downtown, and the public can vote for a People’s Choice award during Urban Nights. Practice Yoga will host live music by BJSR, the Dayton International Peace Museum will host an opening reception for an exhibit of Chinese brush painting, and artists will take over the Southern Belle’s second floor, where local crafters will sell their handmade wares. And the Blue Sky Project is hosting an exhibition of Mequitta Ahuja’s works on paper in the lobby of the KeyBank Tower and an exhibit of photography by Sa Schloff, as well as work by Blue Sky participants, in the former Roly Poly space on Courthouse Square. Several downtown housing options will be open for tours, and many of them will feature artists’ work, too.

Downtown retailers also get into the Urban Nights spirit. At Derailed: A Hair Salon, co-owner Austin Burkhart will try to break his record for giving free Mohawks, and Omega Music will host live music throughout the night. Pantorium Cleaners will host a party with special entertainment, and Valeria’s Beauty Center and Day Spa will offer special discounts to celebrate the launch of its new retail store, Bonito.

Scan this QR code with your smart phone to start the SCANvenger Hunt.

Scan this QR code with your smart phone to start the SCANvenger Hunt.

A fun way to get around Urban Nights is by playing Comtactics’ SCANvenger Hunt. Smart phone users are encouraged to visit participating businesses and search for two-dimensional QR codes. Players scan the codes, answer a trivia question about that business and are entered into drawings for giveaways.

A weekend-long event also will open during Urban Nights. The Dayton Circus Creative Collective will host its sixth annual multimedia arts event, Sideshow VI, at Garden Station, 509 E. Fourth St., and in the nearby Yellow Cab building, 700 E. Fourth St. This two-block arts experience will feature work by more than 32 artists and performances by 25 musical groups.

Urban Nights guests also will get a sneak peek of another weekend-long event, the FilmDayton Festival, held downtown May 20-22. Multidisciplinary artist and Springfield native Rod Hatfield has mixed a montage of silent films starring Lillian Gish, also a Springfield native. The Show will provide a live soundtrack to the projection on the east side of the Convention Center, which can be viewed from the Jefferson and Fifth street area.

In addition to the arts, cycling has become an important part of Urban Nights. The Life Enrichment Center will roll out its new Yellow Bike program, a free bike sharing program downtown, during Urban Nights. The center is providing brightly painted yellow bikes available free of charge for anyone to ride between downtown destinations. People simply grab a yellow bike, ride it to their

Urban Bikes @ Urban Nights meets at 5:30 p.m. in front of Fifth Third Field for a ride through the action.

Urban Bikes @ Urban Nights meets at 5:30 p.m. in front of Fifth Third Field for a ride through the action.

destination and park it in a bike rack for the next person to use. The center also is asking for donations of helmets in all sizes, which can be dropped off at Courthouse Square. In addition, Urban Bikes @ Urban Nights returns: Cyclists should bring their own bike and meet at Don Crawford Plaza in front of Fifth Third Field at 5:30 p.m. for this ride through the Urban Nights action.

The best way to see as much as possible during Urban Nights is to walk, and many of the destinations are just a short distance from each other. Greater Dayton RTA also will provide free event trolleys to help visitors get around.

Urban Nights takes place rain or shine. The event is presented by the Downtown Dayton Partnership, Culture Works, Montgomery County and the City of Dayton, with additional support from WDTN-TV2, DP&L, Greater Dayton RTA, Budweiser Select, the Downtown Priority Board, Sinclair Community College, Clear Channel and Mix 107.7-FM, KeyBank, and the Ohio Arts Council.

Call 937-224-1518 or visit www.downtowndayton.org for more information.

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avatar About Kristen Wicker

Kristen has fancied herself a writer since she was able to make scribbles with a crayon, and particularly since winning the Miami Valley's Young Author's Contest in grade school with her debut novel, The Twixies' Journey to Fantasy Castle, a Smurfs rip-off, and since "self-publishing" (on a dot-matrix printer) a collection of poems in high school titled 101 Ways to Depress Yourself. Growing up the daughter of a military civilian, and later in life being a loose cannon, Kristen has lived in such places as Tehran, Iran; Cairo, Egypt; Grand Canyon, Arizona; and Myrtle Beach, S.C. These days, she lives, works, works out and hangs out in downtown Dayton and feels quite exotic when she ventures to the far-off locales of Piqua and Beavercreek.


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