The Best Things to Do in Metro Phoenix This Week

Oh yes, Valentina is back in Phoenix.EXPAND
Oh yes, Valentina is back in Phoenix.
Courtesy of King's Queens Entertainment
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Ready for 2018? We are. What better way to ring in the year than attending the 2018 Flannel Ball, showing off all the trivia from this year that's still kicking around in your brain, or getting geeky at The Grid? For more things to do, visit Phoenix New Times' calendar.

Arizona Drag Stars
The Arizona Drag Stars regularly strut their stuff across the stage of Crescent Ballroom. Whether it’s a sassy stand-up act or a sultry vocal number, this crew — including Neveah McKenzie, Olivia Gardens, and Luna St. James — wows crowds. They also slay with fierce fashions, and hair and makeup combos that are so on point, it hurts.

This holiday edition of the show features special guest star Valentina. Fans of RuPaul’s Drag Race know her from season 9, where she was named Miss Congeniality, before getting eliminated in the ninth episode. Expect her to deliver a spicy performance. After all, she chose her stage name from the label on a bottle of hot sauce.
The night heats up at 8 p.m. on Thursday, December 28, at Crescent Ballroom, 308 North Second Avenue. Tickets are $20 to $50; a $10 VIP upgrade is available. Call 602-716-2222 or visit the Crescent Ballroom website. Amy Young

Dress as your favorite Star Wars character for the 21+ Science With a Twist: Trek, Wars, and Who at the Arizona Science Center.EXPAND
Dress as your favorite Star Wars character for the 21+ Science With a Twist: Trek, Wars, and Who at the Arizona Science Center.
Benjamin Leatherman

Extreme Geek Out with Trek, Wars, and Who
If you like Star Trek, Doctor Who, Star Wars, or all of the above, you can let your inner geek loose during the holidays as part of the Arizona Science Center’s Extreme Geek Out with Trek, Wars, and Who event on Thursday, December 28.

The event will celebrate the pop culture touchstones with Star Wars-themed planetarium tours, a drone activity, laser tag, a Death Star explosion, and a limited-seating viewing of Star Wars: The Force Awakens. The event takes place at 600 East Washington Street. Admission is $18 for adults, $13 for children, and free for those 2 and younger. For more information, call 602-716-2000 or go to the Arizona Science Center website. Laura Latzko

Detail of Saskia Jorda's instllation for PhxArt Project at CityScape.
Detail of Saskia Jorda's instllation for PhxArt Project at CityScape.
Saskia Jorda

PhxArt Project: CityScape
You know that famous line from Field of Dreams, “If you build it, he will come”? We think that’s what the folks at Phoenix Art Museum had in mind when they created PhxArt Project: CityScape, but for art nerds instead of Shoeless Joe Jackson.

The museum has taken over retail space at CityScape and filled it with an art installation and pop-up shop. Performances are held there, too.

Pop by to 1 East Washington Street between 3 and 10 p.m. on Thursday, December 28. It’s free to visit and remains open through Sunday, January 7. For more information, visit the Facebook event page. Lindsay Roberts

Look at them, they’re not Sandra Dee: Fans have fun at Sing-a-Long-a Grease.EXPAND
Look at them, they’re not Sandra Dee: Fans have fun at Sing-a-Long-a Grease.
Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts

Sing-a-Long-a Grease
From the people who brought you the wildly popular Sing-a-Long-a Sound of Music comes Sing-a-Long-a Grease, with fewer nuns and Von Trapps. Grease originated in Chicago as a much filthier musical, but what the 1978 movie version lost in grit and sleaze is made up for in goofy fun by those Sing-a-Long-a folks, who provide subtitles along with prizes, props, and an audience-wide costume contest. It’s an international phenomenon!

Your host will guide you in prop use and conduct a vocal warmup to prepare you for an evening of enthusiastic, egalitarian singing. It’s not one of those parties where four chorus boys burst into an unrequested 40-minute medley.

Round up your gang and become hopelessly devoted at 7:30 p.m. Thursday, December 28, at Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts, 7380 East Second Street. Screenings continue through Saturday, December 30. Admission is $17. Visit the Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts website or call 480-499-8587. Julie Peterson

Untidy Secrets Storytelling
We’ve all done shit that we feel bad about. In plenty of cases, we’ve realized the errors of our ways and tried to remedy it with an apology. Then there’s the stuff we know we should feel bad about, but aren’t remorseful over in the least. At the Friday, December 29, installment of Untidy Secrets Storytelling — a monthly storytelling, zine-swap, and networking event — a group of readers including Jason Simons, Ashley Naftule, Jessie Balli, Aaron Valdivia, Maya Tatum, and Courtney Wielgus will reveal personal tales that fit into that latter category.

Hear what they’re unapologetic about from 8 to 10 p.m. at Ash Avenue Comics, 806 South Ash Avenue, in Tempe. Admission is free. Chairs are limited; feel free to bring your own. Visit the Facebook event page. Amy Young

And your host, of course, Joel McHale.EXPAND
And your host, of course, Joel McHale.
Cliff Lipson/CBS

Joel McHale
The Soup is gone, and Community was canceled, but Joel McHale remains as busy as ever. When he’s not guest-starring on various television shows, the actor and comedian is gearing up for his return as Tad O’Malley, the talk show host who specializes in conspiracy theories on the upcoming season of The X-Files.

Last year, McHale made his first foray into publishing with his self-help memoir Thanks For The Money, written with the trademark snarky tone that made him such a draw on the stand-up circuit.

Phoenix somehow made McHale’s nice list this year, as he is closing out the last three nights of 2017 with a series of shows downtown at Stand Up Live.

The laughter begins at 7:30 p.m. on Friday, December 29, at 50 West Jefferson Street. Tickets are $35. For more information, visit the Stand Up Live website. Jason Keil

Ravage 2099 Redux”
Imagine a world obsessed with sterility, where so-called polluters could be put to death. That’s the premise of a Marvel Comics series called Ravage 2099, created by writer Stan Lee and artist Paul Ryan. The 33-issue series launched in 1992. Now, 25 years later, it’s inspired an art exhibition called “Ravage 2099 Redux.”

See the free exhibition at The Hive art gallery, 2222 North 16th Street, during the opening reception from 7 to 10 p.m. on Friday, December 29. The show features work by eight artists who’ve collaborated to reimagine, rewrite, and redraw all 24 pages of Ravage 2099, #1. The pages will be displayed sequentially, so gallerygoers can experience the first account of Ravage 2099’s Orwellian world.

Participating artists are Brad Dwyer, Reset Survivor, Damon Begay, Denny Riccelli, Eric Mengel, Robin Holley, Adam Yeater, and Christopher Ness. The exhibition continues through Sunday, January 14. Visit the Hive website. Lynn Trimble

News junkies welcome.EXPAND
News junkies welcome.
Courtesy of Valley Bar

Year in Review Trivia 2017
Revisiting the last 12 months might not be good for your mental state, but it could lead to fun and prizes. You and up to five of your news junkie friends can battle it out during Year in Review Trivia 2017 at Valley Bar. Teams will be asked 20 questions on topics including news, sports, and pop culture during the game night, which is also a benefit for Central Arizona Shelter Services (C.A.S.S.). The two groups with the most points will be awarded prizes, and so will the team that raises the most money for C.A.S.S.

Find the answers at 6:30 p.m. on Friday, December 29, at 130 North Central Avenue. Tickets are $35. For more information, visit the Valley Bar website. Jason Keil

Fiesta Bowl Parade
As if traffic on Central Avenue weren’t slow enough, once a year the city of Phoenix allows the Fiesta Bowl Parade down the pivotal thoroughfare that separates the streets from the avenues. Were it not for the Fiesta Bowl, a boon for the Valley’s economy that takes place during the holidays, the parade might just be a nuisance. But doldrums be damned, the annual event delights onlookers who relish the celebration. Maybe they’re onto something.

The Fiesta Bowl Parade rolls through central Phoenix on Saturday, December 30, beginning at 9 a.m. General admission is $10. Visit the Fiesta Bowl website or call 480-350-0911 for details. Rob Kroehler

It’s all in a day’s rumba for these members of Zoppé — an Italian Family Circus.EXPAND
It’s all in a day’s rumba for these members of Zoppé — an Italian Family Circus.
Courtesy of Chandler Center for the Arts

Zoppé an Italian Family Circus
Wild animals perform in fewer circuses nowadays, and we, along with the animals, approve of that development. Zoppé an Italian Family Circus, a mainstay of Valley holidays, employs domestic horses and dogs, in case that matters to you, but mostly spectacular human beings from around the world, a true family whose ages range from 7 to “ahem.”

Join Zoppé in celebration of its 175th anniversary through Sunday, January 7, 2018, at 250 North Arizona Avenue in Chandler. (Look for the enormous tent on the Chandler Center for the Arts campus.) Saturday, December 30’s showtimes are 2 and 7 p.m. Tickets are $15 to $40 at the Chandler Center for the Arts website or 480-782-2680. There’s also a circus camp on-site next week for kids ages 8 to 13 — check the website. Julie Peterson

DJ Tristan Isuelt will be there.
DJ Tristan Isuelt will be there.
Batwings Photography

Haxan v Warlock, A Doomed Disco-tech
The word “disco” typically conjures images of shimmery ’70s fashion and jerky, embarrassing dance moves.
If that sounds terrible to you, don’t worry, you won’t find any of that at the Haxan v Warlock, A Doomed Disco-tech dance party. This event will bring the glorious gloom.

From the tunes to the vibe, you can feed your goth-y soul. The party will combine Haxan, a local dance night, with Warlock, a similar event that happens in Los Angeles. Which means that California DJ Xian Vox will lay down the dark wave sounds alongside Phoenix DJ Tristan Iseult.

Guests are encouraged to “dress to raise the dead” for this shadowy soiree that starts at 9 p.m. on Saturday, December 30, at The Rebel Lounge, 2303 East Indian School Road. Admission is $5. Call 602-296-7013 or visit the Rebel Lounge website. Amy Young

“Broken” is an evening filled with art, poetry, and performance curated by Helen Hestenes and dedicated to her sister, Karen, an Arizona artist who passed away in 1997. The Room of White Columns inside The Icehouse will feature work by late local artists who worked in photography, painting, and other media. The Cathedral Room will feature “Sarcophagus,” a sculpture by Helen Hestenes presented in conjunction with performance artist Mariana Riley.

Joining the event is Butoh Sonics, which was founded by sonic sculptor HexRAY and ritualist Eric Hodgins in 2015. The group, which includes rampaNT and Parker Westonm, explores the range of human sensations though experimental noise and body movement.

“Broken” begins at 7 p.m. on Saturday, December 30, at 429 West Jackson Street. Admission is $40 and benefits The Glass Eye, a nonprofit campaign dedicated to suicide awareness.
For more information, visit the Ice House website. Jason Keil

Glow in the Park + Full Moon Drum Circle
Grab your glow sticks and go. That’s the simple mantra of Shakti Drummers, who will gather with community members on Sunday, December 31, for Glow in the Park + Full Moon Drum Circle. It’s an excuse to drum your little heart out, meet some new people, get a nature fix, and spend the early part of New Year’s Eve in an unconventional way.

The free gathering happens from 5:15 to 8 p.m. at the Tewa Ramada at North Mountain Park, 10608 North Seventh Street. Expect music, games, and spontaneous dance under the glow of the early evening desert sky. You can bring your own instruments and glow sticks, or borrow what you need when you get there. No pets, please. Visit the Facebook event page. Lynn Trimble

Don't forget the flannels.
Don't forget the flannels.
Melissa Fossum

2018 Flannel Ball
Sure, you could waste a ton of cash to fly to New York City to see the ball drop in the super-crowded Times Square for New Year’s Eve. Or, you could go to the Roosevelt Row equivalent, the 2018 Flannel Ball.

Like any good kickback, the celebration will have live music by Snailmate and Exxxtra Crispy, as well as art, food trucks, beer, and, of course, flannels.

Party on from 9 p.m. until 2 a.m. on Sunday, December 31. Tickets are $15 at eventbrite.com or $25 the day of the event. Lindsay Roberts

The Grid’s Nerdy New Year
Throw your Power Gloves in the air like you just don’t care, because the fine folks at The Grid: Games and Growlers in Mesa are putting on an 8-bit bacchanal for New Year’s. At The Grid’s Nerdy New Year, titans of video game music and nerd culture will rock the crowd and show 2017 the door.

Instrumental heroes The Minibosses will shred epic game music covers, and nerdcore rapper Mega Ran will spit rhymes and drop beats as big as the Times Square New Year’s ball. Local weirdo Kawaii Robot Shark will also be there to help usher us into 2018 with some additional acts that have yet to be announced.

The festivities kick off at 7 p.m. on Sunday, December 31. Tickets are $10 at the door for this 21-and-over show. There will be a free champagne toast at midnight; all other beverages will be available for an additional cost. Visit the Grid Facebook page or call 480-621-8088. Ashley Nafutle

Mural painting to help activate downtown Mesa.EXPAND
Mural painting to help activate downtown Mesa.
Mesa Arts Center

Self-guided Art Tour
Calories? Hate ’em. Holiday stress? Totally sucks. You can walk it all off, starting on New Year’s Day. Need ideas on where to begin? Try downtown Mesa, where streets are dotted with sculptures and murals that make for a relaxing self-guided art tour. Some of the more whimsical sculptures depict a giant stiletto and bright pink chair. Others reveal bygone days of agriculture and other pursuits.

You’ll find about three dozen sculptures from Mesa to Country Club drives, and between First Street and First Avenue. Look for murals by several artists, including Lauren Lee and Jesse Perry, while you’re there. And check out public art along the light rail, too. There’s an online map to help you hit the highlights. Visit the Downtown Mesa website. Lynn Trimble

St. Basil’s Cathedral is one of 75 displays at Lights of the World.
St. Basil’s Cathedral is one of 75 displays at Lights of the World.
Courtesy of Arizona State Fairgrounds

Lights of the World
Some people go to Disneyland constantly. If they don’t see the Main Street Electrical Parade a couple of times a year, the moping commences. So we take ’em to the Arizona State Fairgrounds for Lights of the World, a touring installation that’s nearly unfathomable in its size, creativity, and technological pizzazz. Imagine It’s a Small World threw up on Fremont Street, in a good way.

Attractions with separate admission include a carnival and stunning Chinese acrobatics. Visit from 5 to 10 p.m. on Monday, January 1, at 1826 West McDowell Road. Monday admission’s offered at $9.69 through a radio station promo — the password’s on the order page at the Lights of the World website. Regular admission is $15 to $18, continuing through Tuesday, January 2. Call 602-252-6771 for info. Julie Peterson

Always fun with the Suns.EXPAND
Always fun with the Suns.
Jacob Tyler Dunn

Phoenix Suns v. Atlanta Hawks
When the Phoenix Suns’ leading scorer collapsed in pain during a December 5 game at the Toronto Raptors’ Air Canada Centre, a panicked gasp was heard across the Valley. Luckily, 21-year-old Devin Booker’s injury proved milder than it had appeared, and there were assurances that the budding all-star would return in short order.

The Suns are still a work in progress, to put it politely, but at least with Booker back in the lineup, they have a dynamic offensive weapon at the ready. That’s more than can be said for the ailing Atlanta Hawks, who will visit Talking Stick Resort Arena, 201 East Jefferson Street, at 7 p.m. on Tuesday, January 2. Tickets are $18 and up. Visit the Suns website or call 602-379-2000 for details. Rob Kroehler

“Tempe Xhibition: Celebrating Ten Years”
It’s been 10 years since the debut of Tempe Center for the Arts, a staple of the Valley performing arts scene. The city is celebrating with a free art show featuring work by more than a dozen emerging and established Tempe-based artists, including Kristin Bauer, Lena Klett, Melissa Martinez, Jacob Meders, and John Randall Nelson.

Highlights include a pair of Emmet Potter’s shiny, powder-coated Vietnam-era bombs suspended from the ceiling. Also keep an eye out for Emily Ritter’s books, each made with a month’s worth of recycled materials.
Give “Tempe Xhibition: celebrating ten years” a good look between 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Tuesday, January 2. The show is only on view at The Gallery at TCA, 700 West Rio Salado Parkway, through January 6. Visit the city of Tempe website. Lynn Trimble

Who will win?
Who will win?
Tiffany Brown

Country Idol
Think you have what it takes to win Country Idol? The local singing competition is on the hunt for top performers at preliminary events around the Valley, including one at Pat O’s Bunkhouse Saloon.

Don’t let the name of the event fool you. Singing a country song is not required to win over the judges. Contestants will be judged on showmanship and vocal ability. Winners in the preliminary round will receive a $25 and $15 bar tab for first and second place, respectively, and the chance to compete in the finals at the 33rd Annual Gay Rodeo, which runs from February 16 through 18.

It’s pitchy at 9 p.m. on Wednesday, January 3, at 4428 Seventh Avenue. Admission is free. For more information, visit the Arizona Country Idol website. Jason Keil

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