Several years ago, when the Westport Country Playhouse was being renovated, nearby restaurants saw drops of up to 2/3 in business.
The Dressing Room sits in the shadow of the Playhouse. Other partner restaurants are not far away.
This summer, many of those restaurants — the ones still around, anyway — will show their appreciation for the Playhouse in a tangible way. Seven have signed on as “partners” for the 2011 season. Playhouse subscribers receive discounts of up to 20%, when presenting a ticket or stub on the day of that performance.
It’s a win-win-win. Participating restaurants get their logos displayed in Playhouse promotional materials (and complimentary tickets). The Playhouse gets to support — and gets support from — local businesses.
And theater-goers get great, discounted meals at a diverse mix of restaurants. It’s a nice reminder that Fairfield hasn’t stolen all our culinary thunder.
(Click here for full restaurant descriptions and discounts.)
Young, old, black, white, married, divorced, gay, straight — once a month or so, they all get together at a restaurant, theater or yoga studio.
They dance to great music, sing with the band, and have a funky time long past midnight.
It’s a movable Mix party. And it takes place not in the Meatpacking District. Not in Williamsburg. Not even New Haven.
It happens right here in Westport.
The Mix parties — or MIX, as the word appears on posters and the website — are the brainchild of Gene Seidman.
Gene Seidman dances with Dr. Barbara Siminovich, an Argentine living in Bridgeport who attends every MIX.
A graphic designer with an interest in eco-friendly products who’s directed projects for IBM, the New York Times, Verizon, UNICEF and the USTA — and held important posts at Priceline, MOMA and Unilever — Seidman started his after-hours events a year ago.
The Saugatuck Rowing Club wanted to attract more diners. Seidman proposed a dance party. Word-of-mouth advertising drew 135 people.
Seidman realized he’d found an unfilled need.
“We have a problem,” the longtime Westporter (and current RTM representative) said.
“Fairfield and South Norwalk are on the up-and-up. They’ve got more restaurants, more nightlife. There’s not a hell of a lot to do here after 10 p.m. We need to light a fire.”
The most recent event — held earlier this month at Kaia Yoga — featured a Cuban band from New York (and belly dancing). The after-party at Manolo lasted until 2 a.m.
The mix of people is key. The crowd skews over-40, but attitude counts more than age.
The MIX parties take place in Westport, but the crowd is more diverse — in terms of race, sexuality, even clothing styles — than you usually see here.
And everyone has fun.
For proof, check out the YouTube video. “The best bands and best music,” someone says.
“Dynamic people,” another offers.
“Kick-ass band.” “Everyone is smiling.” “I came by myself, and I’m dancing.”
A mix of a MIX.
“I love to dance,” Seidman says. “It’s a great way for people to interact. These days, people are so concerned about money and everything else. They text and email each other. But that’s not connecting.
“People have to get out. When you dance, you connect. When you dance, you’re beautiful and alluring.”
Lest you get the wrong idea, Seidman is married — and has been for 24 years.
“But I still want to get out,” he says.
Seidman works closely with MIX musical director Crispin Cioe. The Westport saxophonist/composer/producer has toured and recorded with the Rolling Stones, Tom Waits and Ray Charles.
Cioe’s classic/nouveau soul band — Cracked Ice — has also played at MIX parties.
This Friday (July 30), Cracked Ice plays at the Levitt Pavilion.
Seidman is organizing the after-party — from 10:30 p.m. on, at Manolo.
It’s not a full-fledged MIX. But everyone’s invited.
Provided you want to have fun.
(To find out more — and get on the MIX mailing list — click on www.mixct.com)
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