Think of the best parties you've been to and you're probably envisioning a fantastic, unique space. Great venues don't need white tablecloths, fancy food or obsequious waiters. A killer location, whether a sweet outdoors site or a hidden room that's rarely used, is often the best inspiration for a memorable event.
Site is so important that it's wise to always remember this phrase: Venue is destiny. That means events inevitably take on the character of their location. It's difficult to overcome a space that's too corporate, too fancy or too cold. Fortunately, given Cleveland's abundance of cozy communities, classic old buildings and authentic neighborhoods, you'll never have to suffer ennui or cynicism if you're careful about where you party.
The trick isn't so much sniffing out cool locations (although we've ID'd a few for you below); it's avoiding the predictable. Getting peer pressure to hang out at the same old spots? Just keep shaking your head and raising the ante until someone comes up with an inspiring location. The rest is easy. Venue is destiny. Say it out loud all summer and make it your mantra.
Open Air in Market Square This sweet Saturday diversion at Lorain Avenue and West 25th Street is a favorite destination for bargain hunting, entertainment and socializing. The market experience, one of Cleveland's truly unique offerings, has grown the past few years to offer a long stretch of West 25th. Check out funky antiques, fine imported goods and cool items like Vespa scooters. Check out the weekly schedule of free music from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. June 7: Swinging Bavarians and Waterband, June 14: Doug Wood and Candiamore, June 21: Roberto Ocasio's Latin Jazz Project and Jimiller Band, June 28: Cletus Black and 7 Mile Isle. (216) 781-3222, www.openairinmarketsquare.com
Crooked River Arts Fest In an effort to showcase Cleveland artists' work in an environment of family fun and festivities, Art on Wheels, in collaboration with the trolley tours of Art Space Cleveland, presents its second-annual arts fest June 19 from noon to 6 p.m. Check it out at the Art On Wheels studios, 1284 Riverbed St., West Bank of the Flats. For more information, call (216) 941-7643 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
Moveable Feast If it's true that in Cleveland we don't mix it up with artists and business types enough, then Cool Cleveland's ongoing Art/Tech/Dance series is working hard to rectify the situation. Join Cleveland's creative crowd at Cedar and Lee roads in Cleveland Heights on June 17 for a neighborhoodwide after-work networking party that starts at 4 p.m. at the Lemon Grass restaurant. It includes an open bar with beer, wine and hors d'oeuvres from neighborhood restaurants. Then, enjoy free shorts by Ohio filmmakers at the Cedar Lee Theatre. Your admission even includes a free ticket to opening night of "Grease" at Cain Park at 8 p.m. Register now at www.coolcleveland.com.