Come to Rivercrest in Astoria on Sunday, May 7, at 3pm, where we’ll celebrate the current BOAST: Best of Astoria & LIC winners! You can register here. We’ll provide some snacks, there will be a cash bar, and we’ll have a raffle for great prizes from local businesses. Early bird pricing by Sunday, April 23 is $15 (plus fee), and includes one raffle ticket. (You can buy more raffle tickets, but there is a maximum of one prize per person.) After April 23, the price goes up to $20 (plus fee). Please RSVP as early as possible.
Our last in-person party was in February 2020, also at Rivercrest, and we are thrilled to be going back there. In 2022 Rivercrest was a BOAST: Best of Astoria & LIC winner for Best Brunch, Best American Restaurant, and Best Bar for Sports
The BOAST: Best of Astoria & LIC 2022 Winners have been announced! They are posted on the EAT, DRINK, DO & SEE, and LOCATION pages. Congratulations to all the winners. There were much fewer responses for LIC on this year’s survey, so those winners were listed alphabetically (no first, second, or third place designations for LIC). Thank you to everyone who filled out the survey, and for doing write-ups on the survey. You may see your writing on the site! Also a big thank you to businesses who contributed prizes: Heart of Gold, Rivercrest, Tea and Milk, The Brass Owl, The Shillelagh Tavern, and The Wolfhound.
New this year! On the LOCATION page, if you click on a winner on the map, the description says what that place is a winner for in which section (EAT, DRINK, DO & SEE) and category.
Do you know a business that is a BOAST 2022 Winner? We are selling winner stickers! Just drop us a line at [email protected], or through any social channel, to get more info.
Featured BOAST Location: Katch Astoria
We want to highlight Katch Astoria, which is a Featured BOAST Business on the sidebar of the DRINK page. If businesses are interested in advertising as a Featured BOAST Location, they can get in touch with us by email, [email protected], or through social.
Check out our new and improved HAPPENING page. If you want your event listed, drop us a line at [email protected] or through social.
The BOAST: Best of Astoria & LIC 2022 Survey is LIVE! The site is boast.nyc/survey.
Please fill it out by Friday, December 23, and be sure to add your name and email at the end of the survey for a chance to win a prize. We always appreciate short write-ups with your entries, and please share the survey with anyone who knows and loves these neighborhoods! Also, this year you can fill out part of the survey, and then come back to it later and make changes until you submit it.
Like last year, each question has space for Astoria (plus write-up) and LIC (plus write-up). We appreciate you filling out as much as you can, but no need to fill out more than you’d like.
A few new categories this year include Best Fast Casual Restaurant, Best Outdoor Drinking, and Best Local Organization.
We are running a fundraiser to help offset our costs, including the annual survey and website. The survey results and website are the backbone of BOAST, and we want to keep our advertising rates to businesses low, so we hope you will consider contributing by the end of the year. Any amount would be appreciated. Thank you in advance! boast.nyc/contribute
Fresco’s Grand Cantina is a great place for a night out with friends or an adorable date night spot. The ambiance was spectacular and very Instagram-able.
We got a sneak peak at the upstairs space which they plan to rent out for private parties. It’s a super cute space with funky lighting on the staircase.
We ate in Le Jardin — the garden area. A section of the ceiling had been removed to make it open air seating and the rest was curved and clear — it felt like we were eating in a greenhouse. Plus, there was a large screen that was playing The Nanny. We love sitcoms about gals from Queens!
We started off with some frozen drinks: The Mango Margarita was light and delicious, the Strawberry Margarita had a nice balance of booze to sweetness and the Mojito was delightfully refreshing.
The waitstaff were friendly and attentive but also gave us time to enjoy our food and chat. The plain nachos had a fun blend of cheeses and came with a side of guacamole. The chicken fajitas were excellent and super flavorful. They added a sweet plantain which was great. The steak burrito’s tastiness was enhanced by the extra sauces they provided.
Some of us feel that a meal at a Mexican restaurant just isn’t complete without a churro or two. And the mini-churros delivered. Not only was the presentation beautiful but they tasted divine. We can’t wait to come back and introduce this place to more people!
Bars, pubs, breweries, and other drinking establishments are a great place to hang out with friends, have a good meal, and enjoy a drink. They also can help play a supportive role in their communities at large. A drinking establishment can promote local talent, raise money, and even bring a community closer together. Today, BOAST: Best of Astoria & LIC explains how you can have a positive impact on your community.
Bringing in the Real Estate and Music
Small music venues contribute to the cultural experience of towns and cities. Millennial and Generation X are currently the largest population of homebuyers, and they are demanding suburban communities that include more urban-style amenities, according to Realtor.com. In addition to walkability, these generations are looking for cultural amenities like bars and music venues. Essentially, the drinking establishments are boosting the real estate economy.
Drinking establishments also promote local talent. Musicians and artists often utilize local bars and breweries as music venues. They operate as “an essential testing ground for bands learning their craft,” says The List. In an interview with The List, Tim Burgess said, “The next band to go massive might be playing up the road from you on Wednesday night.” He added that friends often get together and go out to support local bands and the venues.
Many bars and breweries open their doors for live music on the weekends, and most of them feature less known and/or local bands. Some places, such as CBGB in New York, become famous for being a place where big bands get their start. Bands like the Ramones and the Beastie Boys played at CBGB before they made it big.
Bars, pubs, and breweries often give back to their communities through donations and fundraisers. Left Hand Brewing in Colorado is involved in everything from natural disaster relief to helping animal shelters. Although Left Hand is now a larger brewery, they haven’t forgotten about their roots. They also have the Left Hand Brewing Foundation (LHBF), which strives to better their community by supporting community support groups, arts and cultural activities, housing projects, medical research, and more. The LHBF hosts five community events in their hometown of Longmont, and all five benefit local organizations.
You can get involved with your local bar’s events. In California,Rio Grill hosts the Resolution Run. This race includes trails, roads, and water vistas. Whether you choose to complete the 10K or the 5K course, the race benefits a different charity each year. You can even use the event as an opportunity to get fit with your dog, as long as he is on a leash.
Bars are also an essential part of a city’s festivals and parades. By offering food and beverages for patrons to enjoy during the event, they draw larger crowds. For example, Savannah, GA hosts the second largest St. Patrick’s Day parade in the United States and third largest in the world. Over 300,000 people attend the parade. In the weeks leading up to the parade and during the festival, many bars and restaurants host and sponsor events. The races are intended to celebrate local craft brewing, an active lifestyle, and the surrounding community by including as many local vendors and breweries as possible at the event. The race also raises money for a charity.
Starting From Scratch
Maybe you don’t have your own bar or brewery yet, but especially after reading about all their many benefits for the community, you’re planning to start one. It’s a lot like starting any other business, in that you need to draft a business plan, choose a business structure, design a logo, and hire employees, but there are also some additional steps, like obtaining the proper liquor licenses. You can also learn a great deal by observing other businesses to see what they do. What works and what doesn’t?
So the next time you stop by for a drink, ask what’s going on at your local establishment. Find out about upcoming fundraisers or events. You could help raise money for a local charity or discover a new local band that may make it big one day.
2022 Queensboro Dance Festival tour starts Saturday, appearances at Queens Night Market and Queens Pride
June 1, 2022, Queens NYC — The Queensboro Dance Festival (QDF) tour kicks off this Saturday, June 4th with preview performances in partnership with Queens Rising at the Queens Night Market (New York Hall of Science, Flushing Meadows Corona Park) on Saturday, and an appearance on the Queens Pride mainstage on Sunday. The QDF will present a total of 26 diverse Queens-based dance companies throughout the summer, with over 30 free outdoor performances and classes across Queens. All event lineup information is listed at www.queensborodancefestival.com or bit.ly/2022QDFtour.
As a platform to represent the breadth of dance cultures in Queens, some of the genres in the Queensboro Dance Festival this year includes Chutney, tap, Hawaiian, West African, contemporary, Afro Latin, Turkish Gypsy, hip-hop, Kathak, ballroom, Colombian, Greek, ballet, and Filipino dances. Dance groups hail from neighborhoods spanning from South Ozone Park to Flushing, Long Island City to Jackson Heights.
“We are so excited to be live again,” says Queensboro Dance Festival founder/Executive Director, Karesia Batan. “There is always something new for audiences to enjoy from the dance groups.”
The Queensboro Dance Festival tour officially begins June 4th with a meet and greet party of the 125 dancers performing this summer before heading to preview performances by Hawaiian group Na Pua Mai Ka Lani Nuioka and FANIKE! African Dance Troupe at Queens Night Market. Sunday’s appearance at Queens Pride will feature Chieh & Yoyo, Gotham Dance Theater, and Kofago Dance Ensemble. The tour then travels to Windmuller Park in Woodside June 11–12 at 6:00pm with full-length shows for the rest of their summer schedule. Touring 14 different Queens neighborhoods, free public performances and classes will be held outdoors in various Queens parks, plazas, and streets nearly every weekend through September. Audiences can see a different lineup of dances at each event, with a chance to see all 26 companies in one culminating weekend at Queens Theatre.
2022 Queensboro Dance Festival companies: Barbara Mahler’s Dances Belamovado Chieh & Yoyo chrisbelldances Cole Collective Drye|Marinaro Dance Company FANIKE! African Dance Troupe Flamenco Latino Fruto Ancestral Gotham Dance Theater Greek American Folklore Society Karla Florez School of Dance Kinding Sindaw Kofago Dance Ensemble Manhatitlan Mexican Folkloric Dance Group Na Pua Mai Ka Lani Nuioka NK&D/a movement company Noora Dance Robert Mark Dance RUDanceNY sarAika movement collective Sheep Meadow Dance Theatre The Kingdom Dance Company Umami Playground Urvashie Kissoon Wendy Kamal and the David Ali Dance Academy
Queensboro Dance Festival is also a lead community partner in two new major arts initiatives, Queens Rising and Turnout Queens. Queens Rising is a borough-wide celebration during the month of June to amplify events by Queens artists of all disciplines, connecting independent artists with larger institutions to raise the visibility of their work. Piloted by the Design Trust for Public Space and SITU, an architectural design practice, Turnout NYC is a community-driven initiative providing a flexible outdoor venue in each borough, to expand infrastructure to local artists and arts access to the public. In addition to their tour, Queensboro Dance Festival is a key curator in coordinating Turnout NYC artistic & performance programming in July and August at Travers Park in Jackson Heights.
“We’re honored to be such an active part of the Queens arts landscape,” says Batan. “By working with so many local artists and cultural organizations, we truly feel the sense of community here. We feel the support and are thrilled to keep raising the visibility of Queens artists, especially dancers.”
The Queensboro Dance Festival (501c3) was launched in 2014 with the mission to strengthen the dance community in Queens and inspire a greater appreciation for Queens dance. The festival tours Queens parks, plazas, streets, and more, providing free dance performances and classes by Queens-based professional dance groups of diverse cultures and techniques. The festival also offers career support to dancers such as free rehearsal space, professional development workshops, master classes, performance footage, Queens arts and cultural resources, and a community network of fellow Queens dance artists.
There are many benefits to minimalism within the theater. A lack of pomp and complexity allows for the eyes to rest and let the ears put in the work to understand more than simply hear. We, the audience, are greeted with few details to latch onto and create assumptions, allowing ourselves to come as we are, instead of fighting the need to fit into the role that we feel meant to play. The simplicity of space creates a tabula rasa that we audience members are invited to paint upon, in collaboration with our tour guide performers.
This is how we are lead into Your Negro Tour Guide, the play most recently produced by APAC (Astoria Performing Arts Center), written by Kathy Y. Wilson and performed by the puckish Torie Wiggins.
After we are met by the sparse, black box stage we are familiar seeing—set only with a town square-style bench, a mammy statue adorned title card, and our own pre-existing assumptions—we are introduced to our lead and solo player, performed by Torie Wiggins. An upbeat rap song heralds her in, imitating the start of a stand-up special. We know exactly what we are in for… for now.
Torie Wiggins, as our titular tour guide, embraces her role with complete and utter understanding of her minimalist task. From the moment she steps upon the stage, Wiggins embodies the confidence and charisma that she knows she will need to share these thoughts with—a possibly antagonistic audience. It is clear that her perceived ease is derived from her intense work and reworking. Like the eluded to comedian in a stand-up special, her work has clearly been crafted and polished to near-perfection, and we in the audience cannot help but be drawn in, as if witnessing Michelangelo’s “David” or da Vinci’s “Mona Lisa.” Indeed, as Wiggins leaps in after her introduction to address the more vulnerable and touchy subjects of being a Black person in this country, the dread, discomfort, or hesitancy that many Americans would feel at the discussion of such charged topics is blissfully absent.
Wiggins first addressed a full definition of the n-word (utilizing the blunt-force of the slur with such veracity as to corral the audience into submission to understanding of what they are in for) and then moves onto an admission of both preferable traits and distasteful traits that have been stereotyped upon Black people. Through it all, she utilizes every tool in the actor’s toolbox to ensure that we will leave with having heard her peace. She holds herself with relaxed confidence, speaks with strength of tone and authenticity, is humorous in lampooning herself, her communities, and the audience, ensuring that no one takes anyone too seriously… nor without serious reflection.
The work itself fully supports such an effortlessly comedic and confident portrayal. Written by Kathy Y. Wilson, this biographical piece pulls no punches. Not only has Wilson written about the trials and tribulations of Blackness in our country (an all-too-oft discussed topic), but also speaks to the joy and even superiority of the Black experience in many ways. By utilizing a reoccurring compare-and-contrast bit, both the audience, and Wilson and Wiggins themselves present the vibrancy, unabashed strength, and pride of Black identity… and the space of femininity and queerness within that identity.
That, in this critic’s opinion, is the true greatness of this work and performance; Wilson and Wiggins speak to the wholeness of identity within our information-saturated society. In a time when intersectional advocacy meets gender identity meets race relations meets sexuality discussions meets the umbrella discussion of rights, Your Negro Tour Guide covers both the victimization and refusal of victim mentality of Black people, women, and queer people. In the approximately one hour runtime we are introduced to, and explore, the concepts of police violence, slavery, “talking Black,” Black female beauty standards, Black homophobia, Black History Month, Antebellum lesbian love stories, and the martyrdom of Black children and mothers. This powerful piece, full of beautiful hopelessness and colorful characters/caricatures, presents not a holistic view of Blackness, queerness, nor femininity in this American landscape, but an introspective on what it means to be more than one thing in the complexity of identity and justice in this mass jumble we call a country… all springing from the minimalist, blank slate of a familiar black box stage.
Thurs–Sat and Mon at 7:00pm | Sat at 3:00pm | Sun at 6:00pm
As you enter the space of Astoria Performing Arts Center’s Man of La Mancha, any champion of innovative theater is greeted with that most addictive feeling one can feel in an artistic space: promise. A drab holding cell of the US Border Patrol stands starkly lit, characters—whom we’ve yet to meet—litter the stage, and a lone guitar is plucked expertly by a lead player. These characters, meant to be familiar, are lacking identifying costumery or even their eventual, adopted personas, leaving us to guess who might be portraying whom in this popular tale. Much in the same way, these characters, all with the same dread anticipation and, mostly all, marvelously members of the Latinx community, hold that same curiosity: What story is about to unfold?
This is truly where this production shines; in this spirit of promise and anticipation.
The story of Cervantes’ befuddled hero, Don Quixote of La Mancha, is familiar, and Leigh and Darion’s musical is cherished to all who celebrate the musical theater art form. Tony William II’s production starts strong, presenting audiences with an enticing alternative to the traditionalism that many productions cling to, and quickly dives into the complex and intense.
We all know of Don Quixote, the some-would-call-mad dreamer and Spanish gentleman who fights giants which are merely windmills, dispatches barbers of their shaving-basin helmets, and woos a lowly peasant woman as one would court a princess. In this lovely musical we are invited to see this tale as both told by and performed by the writer of Don Quixote himself, Miguel de Cervantes (played gallantly by JJ Hoss). As Cervantes tells his fiction, we witness the other members of the prison cell transform from despondent to dedicated day players, breathing life to the fanciful story of a man who refuses to accept the grim-dark reality that others demand he see.
In this reworking, the traditional Inquisition-age prison cell is swapped instead for the aforementioned US Border detention cell, and all props and costumery provide a scene reminiscent of a refugee camp. The audience is left, in the end, enthralled from engaging with these immigrants, turned prisoners, and, revealed, most importantly, to be fellow dreaming and yearning human beings. These energized performers—most notably Taïs Szilagi as the fiery and wounded Aldonza/Dulcinea, and Francisco Arcila as the Governor, lead player, and part-time pit instrumentalist—tell this compelling story, but we are still left with many pressing questions: How are these characters within this show within a show being coerced into performing this narrative? What is the fate that awaits these prisoners-turned-players in both their reality and their constructed story? Why is that man shirtless?
The answers can only be sought by attending this enticing production.
Still with all of the questions that come with this story, one cannot help but be wowed by the vocal stylings of the cast. The music of Mitch Leigh deviates strongly from the traditional, western standards of most popular musical theater, offering complex and virtuosic intervals, difficult to discern for those untrained in the cultural stylings of the melting pot that is Spain. Yet—with another nod to Taïs Szilagi and note to our Don Quixote, JJ Hoss—every cast member pulls out the stops, bringing strong conviction and tonal clarity to every number.
It is with great thanks to these performers—lead, again, by JJ Hoss and a, surprisingly quixotic and highly erratic Sancho, played by Anthony Martinez—that this show finds its heart. Each member gives their earnest love and skill in continuing to reel in the audience with their commitment to a story that, in fiction or in present reality, need not remain an impossible dream for anyone who seeks to dream it.