Best Arts & Entertainment

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19. Best live-music club

It's Friday afternoon and you're hankerin' for live music. Seattle's got so many choices, and yet there are risks. What if

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Best Arts & Entertainment

Best of Seattle, 2000

  • Best Arts & Entertainment

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    19. Best live-music club

    It's Friday afternoon and you're hankerin' for live music. Seattle's got so many choices, and yet there are risks. What if you get stuck in a crowd of seven people watching a lame punk band, or you take a chance on jazz and the band features a trumpet player whose horn sounds like an Algerian sheep with indigestion? That's why you voted overwhelmingly to head straight for the Showbox (1426 First, 628-3151), the downtown landmark that regularly hosts the best national talent and local up-and-comers. Jazz lovers stick to the basics too, which is why Dimitriou's Jazz Alley proved the second most popular live music club among readers. A close third was none other than Ballard outpost the Tractor Tavern, home to fantastic roots, country, and blues, and a great place to drink a Bud.

    20. Best dance-music night

    Despite Pacific Place, Safeco Field, dozens of Internet startups, and other landmarks of nouveau Seattle, Seattleites will never stop longing for yesterday, no matter how un-dot-com that day might have been. You want proof? Re-bar's Queer Disco (1114 Howell, 233-9873) beat out I-Spy's brand-spanking-new Lickit. Re-bar's Thursday theme night has been resurrecting the sexy '70s since long before your condo was built. Instead of Barneys and Prada, QD-ers sport tight Ts and fresh sneakers; rather than look Belltown Beautiful with pinched faces, QD-ers radiate Downtown Cool with wry smiles. Instead of surrendering a portion of their stock profits for admission, QD-ers slap down a measly $5. With boys who like boys who like girls who like girls who like boys, there's something for everyone. Now hang up your attitude and get down on the dance floor as MC Queen Lucky drops Debbie Harry on the turntable. Need more proof Seattle digs its oldies-but-goodies? Catwalk's Saturday night, Neighbours' Thursday night, and Re-bar's Saturday night all tied for third. OK?

    21. Best place to rent an obscure foreign film

    Rick Dahms

    Twelve years after its founding, boasting some 45,000 titles on its shelves (VHS, DVD, PAL, Laserdisc, you name it), Scarecrow Video (5030 Roosevelt Wy NE, 524-8554, www.scarecrow.com) is again the overwhelming and unsurprising choice of discerning reader/viewers. Rain City Video came in a distant second, just edging out Hollywood Video in third, but the real story is how Scarecrow has kept it character—and our loyalties—after the health crisis-induced sale to new owners last year. Everyone loves its late hours; the Web site's coming along nicely; and the film geeks who work there—some future Tarantino doubtlessly among them—manage to be both extraordinarily helpful and just a little bit condescending when we confuse Antonioni with De Sica or Renoir with Bresson. Renting a movie here, whether by beeline or random browsing, remains one of those favorite rainy-day rituals—except when somebody's already checked out the only copy of Ugetsu!

    22. Best movie theater lobby to wait in

    You're early; your date's late. Where do you wanna sit? Plop your ass down in the threadbare but comfy chairs at the Harvard Exit (807 E Roy, 323-8986) and start hoping you won't be seeing the movie alone. Decent coffee and snacks help assuage the pre-show jitters, and you can usually also find something to read among the countless movie flyers and calendars. Play the piano or challenge someone to a match of speed chess if you're feeling really ambitious. There's a certain relaxing, musty-antimacassar atmosphere to the Exit, lulling you into the mood for something that's subtitled, three hours long, and won some prize at Cannes. Pacific Place landed in a respectable but unthreatening second for its high-end shopping mall ambiance (with benefit of a small beer-and-TV area). A close third was the Cinerama, undeniably cool to look at, but who wants to sit on those stools?

    23. Best intermission people-watching

    Considering the range of events that takes place each year at the Paramount Theater (911 Pine, 682-1414), it's not a huge surprise that this palatial venue made the top of the list. This year alone we've taken in SIFF's opening gala screening and those swanlike divas of the Bolshoi Ballet—all duly appreciated by this town's movers and shakers while tossing back complimentary glasses of wine. The jewel-box lobby recalls an opulence from bygone times, making everyone who enters look pretty damn important. And, like a scene ripped from an early Bond film, there are plenty of nooks and crannies—and those cinematic, multitiered balconies—from which to see without being seen. Benaroya Hall, with its glamorously modern spaces and efficient vantage points, ran a close second, while the Opera House placed third—which goes to show that the furs 'n' diamonds crowd is always worth gawking at for the same amount of time it takes to wait in line for the rest room.

    MC Queen Lucky

    host, Re-bar's Queer Disco Thursdays

    I like . . .

    * The Longshoreman's Daughter restaurant in Fremont—the best oatmeal in town. Just enough cinnamon, brown sugar, and fruit. Also, the staff's always fun and they have really good coffee.

    * The drive-in down in Kent—a double-feature for only five dollars. The snack building is so great, with perpetually broken video game machines, an electric fireplace that's never on, and perfect 1970s light fixtures on the ceiling, with half the bulbs burned out. There's also pretty fun people- watching.

    * Dina Martina! Anywhere Dina is, I will follow. She's brilliant and beautiful.

    24. Best pre-show valet parking

    Bravo to the valet service at the 5th Avenue Theater (1308 Fifth, 625-1900). Wait, what valet service at the 5th Avenue Theater? Do our readers mean that you can park in a pay lot close enough to the theater without too much hassle, or that the valet service across the street at the Four Seasons Olympic Hotel lends that night-on-the-town sense we all crave once in a while? Well, whatever, people, your choice is clear. Pacific Place pulled into the second spot (shop for that opening-night-gala frock on your way) and Union Square Grill, located around the corner from ACT, came in third. After all, a meal beforehand is awfully civilized, ain't it?

    25. Best all-ages club

    What the heck is up with the votes in this category? The number-one choice for best all-ages club: "There are none left." Yes, city officials' feet-dragging on the subject of all-ages venues is shameful, but plenty of options for the kids have developed since the Liquor Board backed off their Byzantine stance. Periodic all-ages shows occur at clubs such as the Sit & Spin, the Showbox, and the Croc, and the Paradox Theater in the U District has emerged as a decent replacement for the lamented Velvet Elvis. And yet it didn't make the list. The all-ages clubs that did receive votes were DV8, Polly Esther's—which, by the way, never allows under-21 folk—and RKCNDY, which closed, like, seven months ago! All-ages clubs are good, and bars that cordon off a section for young 'uns deserve major props. So attend all-ages shows, love them, and watch the kids interact with the music—maybe you'll learn something.

    26. Best place to bump into a Chihuly

    Hey, don't bump into that Chihuly, it might break! Oh, wait—we didn't understand the question. Our readers chose Benaroya Hall (Third and Union, 215-4747) with its twin giant Chihuly chandeliers, as their favorite bumping place. The pieces, collectively named "Crystal Cascade," are 20 feet high by 12 feet wide and comprised of hundreds of individual glass pieces. Second place goes to Tacoma's Union Station, which hosted an exhibition creatively entitled "Chihuly at Union Station." Third place goes to Pioneer Square, which is full of art galleries. We disqualified all votes for the Bellagio Hotel in Las Vegas, which does have a Chihuly, but when last we checked was in Nevada.

    27. Best TV news theme music

    It's the musical phrase that catches you when you least expect it, the trumpets and syncopated triplet scale that ascends into a final, pulsating chord. We don't know about you, but when we hear it, we think NEWS. Whether you whistle it to yourself in the shower or simply drum your fingers along the top of the remote, KING-5's stirring score introducing their news coverage drew the most applause from readers. It's not enough to hear these notes, however. With images of Dennis Bounds, Jean Enersen, Paul Silvi, and Jeff Renner floating through this sonic majesty, you might be tempted to stick around for the "more details" segment of the night's Top Story. KCPQ-13, our Fox affiliate, came in an admirable second place, but we're sure it's because their anchors are so damn pretty (the guys, too). And in a close call, KIRO-7 edged KOMO-4 by a vote to squeeze into third.

    28. Best place to heckle slam poets

    It's hard to know if our readers' choices are the best ones, but you've got to love the concept. Now that "poetry" readings have been transformed into contests for the aggressive and free-spirited, the truth is out—slam poets have become the street mimes of the new millennium. Our readers' favorite place to shout back is the OK Hotel (212 Alaskan Wy S, 386-9934), where the cavernous room puts a slight reverb on your participatory cries. We wouldn't recommend heckling as poets read their verses at the Elliott Bay Book Company, but our readers at least think about it sometimes—hence Elliott Bay's second-place finish. Third went to Seattle's only regular poetry slam (or so they claimed via telephone) at Dutch Ned's in Pioneer Square.

    29. Best place to sit in Benaroya Hall

    Even though this space is so acoustically perfect that even the Third Tier seats offer marvelous sound quality, the readers have spoken: It's front and center or bust, you say, preferring the up-close-and-personal Prime Orchestra seats. Not to be outdone by the first-place winner, second place actually honed in on the "very front of Prime Orchestra." Does that mean you can actually see Gerry Schwarz sweat? Or that you're hoping his baton will fly out of his clutch and into your lap? (We're more understanding if you're talking about having a bird's-eye view of Itzhak Perlman's nimble fingers.) In third, the boxes get the vote, specifically the Founders' Tier, where you can see the Benaroyas themselves every once in a while.

    30. Best karaoke

    When your wrist gets tired and your throat is dry after tossing out the strikes (or not) at Sunset Bowl (1420 NW Market, 782-7310), you love migrating to the lounge for drinks and, of course, fine karaoke. Liquor-emboldened participants and more reserved spectators alike dig the comfortable, scruffy atmosphere, which feels kinda like your childhood neighbor's rec room back when people used to smoke indoors. Of course, what goes on inside the Sunset Bowl lounge can be considerably less wholesome than the old Scooby Doo cartoons you used to enjoy. . . . Fuel up on greasy nachos before belting out tunes at second-place winner Jalisco on lower Queen Anne, or join the pack of devoted Sunday-night chanteuses at R Place on Capitol Hill.

    31. Best bowling alley

    Rick Dahms

    When it comes to Seattle's favorite bowling alley, the deciding factor seems to be location, location, location. Not that Sunset Bowl (1420 NW Market, 782-7310) isn't worthy; this Ballard fixture provides great lanes, has a lovably seedy lounge with karaoke (see above item), and serves those bowling pin-shaped beers that everybody adores. And the Sunset's the granddaddy of all Seattle bowling alleys, home to many a league bowler and a welcoming place to mere amateurs. But its two main competitors deserve at least as much praise. I mean, Leilani Lanes is a Hawaiian-themed bowling alley—how cool is that? West Seattle Bowl, meanwhile, offers an intimate, old-school experience for the castoffs who hang around in THAT part of town. For the rest of us, we'll continue schlepping to Sunset to roll some strikes, spares, and splits. Groovy.

    32. Best mini-golf

    Miniature golf (or "goofy golf," as us true adherents prefer to call it) is the ultimate leisure time activity, combining man's two most primal urges—the desire to putt golf balls and the love of windmills. Why does striking a golf ball so it travels directly into a clown's mouth satisfy and amuse us so? Well, some questions are best left to the ages. After a years-long dearth of new miniature golf courses in this podunk town, only government intervention could save us—which brings us to the Interbay Family Golf Center (2501 15th W, 285-2200), the site of our readers' favorite miniature golf links. Tied for second place are the very fine miniature golf course in Seattle Center's Fun Forest and the Green Lake pitch 'n' putt course (which isn't miniature golf at all, you heathens!). Third place goes to the Skyway Park Bowl, whatever and wherever that might be.

    33. Best museum

    Perhaps it was last spring's Roy Lichtenstein show curated by Trevor Fairbrother that wowed voters again. Or maybe it was the colossal "An American Century of Photography," which exhibited 242 prints from the Hallmark Collection; then again, it could just be the towering Hammering Man that makes Seattle Art Museum (100 University, 654-3100) so popular. Coming in second was the Henry Art Gallery, our city's premier modern-art venue ("Inside Out: New Chinese Art"; Andy Warhol drawings). And there's no excuse not to check out the always-free Frye Art Museum, which came in third. Their permanent holdings of German art from the Munich school are always a pleasure, as are the temporary shows, such as last spring's "On the Road with Thomas Hart Benton."

    34. Best gallery

    Alice Wheeler

    With over 100 venues in the city showing fine art, this category has got to be one of the toughest; however, Greg Kucera Gallery (212 Third S, 624-0770) won hands-down again. Perhaps Seattle art watchers aren't so conservative after all. Kucera has brought consistently intelligent, provocative artists to town, including time-tripping art stars McDermott and McGough, internationally known painter Jennifer Bartlett, and Richard Kraft and Joseph Biel, whose current show transforms the gallery into a surreal dreamscape, complete with a copper floor to be filled with visitors' footprints. Tying for second place were antique prints exhibitor Davidson Galleries and glass specialists Foster/White, whose shows include some very pricey William Morris works. In third place was the very hip Howard House, owned by Billy Howard, who showcases some of Seattle's finest young artists as well as bringing artists from as far away as Korea.

    35. Best dot-com to buy your tickets online

    Well, well, well. We seem to have some difference of opinion about whether Ticketmaster.com is the best or the worst place to purchase tickets online. The online arm of the ticketing giant finished first in this category, but a close second was "anything but Ticketmaster" (and more vitriolic versions of the same). Seems that the one-time Pearl Jam foe still gets under people's skin—and into their wallets with those pesky "convenience fees" and service charges. A worthy competitor—until Ticketmaster recently bought them—was Ticketweb, but nobody in our poll chose this relatively new company. Instead, runners-up to the Ticketmaster-or-not-Ticketmaster battle were Cityseats.com, and, in what we can only guess was a response from some who'd rather travel than go to a show, Expedia.com.

    Best of Seattle, 2000

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