With 200 performances taking place in 40 venues downtown, First Night Spokane is, essentially, one giant variety show.
Yet one of those 200 events is, in fact, a true “Variety Show,” complete with jugglers, acrobats, tap dancers, magicians, comedians and musical pageantry. It runs all evening, 7 to 11:45 p.m., at the Spokane Convention Center’s Bay 1.
One of the variety show’s acts – Jack and Jeri Kalvan from Los Angeles – is practically a complete “Ed Sullivan Show” in itself. They describe their act as “what happens when a comedian/juggler marries an acrobat/aerialist.”
Jack Kalvan calls himself a “comedy juggler and master of odd skills.” You can expect to see him juggling everything from plates to torches to giant life preservers; juggling while unicycling; and juggling while drawing a portrait of an audience member.
At one point in his act, you might hear him say, “I have trained a Slinky to walk through a blazing hoop of fire.”
Yep, that’s right. He performs “the world’s only trained Slinky act.”
Throw in the acrobat Jeri – and we do mean throw in – and you’ve got yourself a New Vaudeville extravaganza. They might even do their “synchronized flowerpot drill team” act.
If that’s not enough variety, the “Variety Show” will also feature three other acts.
Louie Foxx is a Seattle comedian/magician who has won awards from the Society of American Magicians. The Hot Shot Tap Dancers are three brothers out of Portland who combine tap with funk moves. And Ashé is a West African drum and dance ensemble.
Other than that, there are only about 199 other performances going on all over downtown on First Night.
There are swing bands (Tuxedo Junction and Six Foot Swing), rock acts (Lucid and Green Light Go) and plenty of folk, country and blues. The B.A.S.I.C. Gospel Choir will be holding forth on the second floor of the STA Plaza between 7 and 9 p.m.
Feel like dancing? First Night will have five separate dance floors scattered around downtown. At one venue, the dance floor consists of asphalt: the street dance on Spokane Falls Boulevard.
First Night is not strictly about music. Visual artists will be blowing glass, painting canvases and welding sculptures all over downtown. Theater, improv comedy and literature readings will be performed on various stages.
The popular 48 Hour Film Festival will be screened at the Spokane City Hall Council Chambers all evening.
A complete schedule and map ran in Sunday’s Spokesman-Review. You’ll also get a complete schedule with your purchase of an admission button, or you can go to www.firstnight spokane.org.
Here are a few reminders about some key details:
•Spokane Falls Boulevard will be closed to regular vehicle traffic from Stevens Street to Post Street, freeing up blocks and blocks of pavement for a street dance, bonfires, ice-carving demonstrations and visual art demonstrations.
•Free shuttles will operate out of a new, free parking lot: the Riverpoint Campus (South Campus, yellow lot) at 412 E. Spokane Falls Blvd. Shuttles will run every 10 minutes on a loop route serving the main venues. (In previous years, the shuttles operated out of the Spokane Arena parking lot, but that’s already booked full for tonight’s Gonzaga University basketball game.)
•The entire celebration culminates in a midnight fireworks finale at Riverfront Park sponsored by the Spokane Tribe of Indians. First Night Executive Director Chris Martin promises that the fireworks finale will be more spectacular than ever. There will be no early-evening fireworks display, as in other years, so all of the pyrotechnic resources will be poured into the midnight boom-fest.
•Don’t forget about First Day, also known as New Year’s Day. Your First Night button will give you free admission into the Northwest Museum of Arts and Culture (MAC) from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. and will get you discounts on Riverfront Park attractions.