As a Philadelphia resident of over eight years and counting, it might shock and render you speechless that I’ve never ventured out into the fray of First Friday in Old City. “But Magali!”, you’re surely exclaiming to your computer screen after you’ve regained your speech facilities, “You love old stuff! And art! And overall pretentiousness! It’s all you seem to write about, anyway! How is it that you haven’t wandered into First Friday yet?”
Nothing other than an hyeractive love of donuts, I’ll answer. It’s just that it takes me a good while to venture out of my cave into respectable society. I can, however, be usually depended upon to eschew the usual “Parks and Rec.” marathon in favor of an occasional night out so long as food is provided and it’s not hailing outside. Last Friday was such an occasion: with Katy Perry’s infernal “Last Friday Night” blaring in my head, I polished off my nice coat, and took the Market-Frankford line to 2nd Street.
Here’s the deal: the first Friday of every month (ha, ha, geddit?), all the art galleries stay open late and host artist receptions, shows, and gallery openings to the public. Places like glass-blowing studio Hot Soup Gallery and Muse Gallery held the door open to the pouring crowds that took over Old City for a few hours, and offered cheese, pretzels, and free drinks just as long as you wandered inside their fine establishment and pretended to actually consider buying a $500 photograph.
Local vintage-y but-still-pretty-expensive boutique Reward had a mini party party a la New York Fashion Week, with free Pabst Blue Ribbon (I didn’t take any, I swear!) and a DJ spinning some pretty rad tunes to the fashionable crowd that mingled amongst $150 corduroy pants and $50 pleated skirts.
My favorite part of the entire enterprise, though, were the vendors that set up shop outside the businesses. For local artists who eschew the bourgeoisie environment of an art dealership (read: artists who can’t afford to show their stuff in a gallery), displaying their handmade crafts, clothing and canvases worked just as well as any gallery space. A lot of weird juxtapositions also jumped at me as I walked past the rows of vendors, like the nice old lady knitting mittens for sale next to a group of energetic Occupy Philly ruffians peddling their message T-shirts to the public.
Everything was going so well, until I absentmindedly stumbled into Broad St. Line A Capella from, you guessed it, our very own university! Apparently they were there to promote the arts or something. Now, don’t misunderstand me -I respect A Capella groups. I can understand that they have some kind of weird pull sometimes to start singing in public places, often with choreographed nods of the head, while a group of onlookers stares at them with a mixture of puzzlement and pleasantry. And heck, I can even understand that people with musical talent just can’t seem to NOT sing. Ever.
But, suffice it to say, I have a very low level of patience when the weather is below fifty degrees outside, and there is no musical accompaniment. And they did sound lovely. Just, you know. Quite loud. They treated the crowd to hits by OneRepublic and something that sounded like a mix of Madonna and Kanye West, though that might have just been me. Needless to say, it was a very interesting way to end the evening.
Also, I’ve just realized that some of my loyal internet stalkers may be members of the Broad St. Acapella Grup, and I’d just like to add -no offense intended. I’m sure you’re all very nice people. Even if you do seem to burst out into song at inopportune moments, like those darned Glee kids.