by Ariel Shafir
Yeah, you lucked out and are fortunate enough to live in the cultural mecca called Harlem. Perhaps by now you've had the pleasure of browsing the Malcolm Shabazz African Market or strolling by Astor Row on a weekend and admiring folks in their Sunday best. You've heard all kinds of music echoing everywhere from the Baptist Church to locals selling personal mixes of Jazz, R&B, Soul & Hiphop along Lenox Avenue. You've hit the legendary spots like Sylvia's, the Apollo and Lenox Lounge but the bottom line is you wanna dig a little deeper, gain insider logic and settle into an ongoing cultural lifestyle that's more in tune with your Bohemian status. Here's a few starters on how to perpetuate the creative & recreational proclivities to which you have become accustomed:
*Take a Film Making course at the Maysles Institute – The only independent film house north of Lincoln Center in Manhattan! Not only can you witness a myriad of documentary films and participate in forum discussions with the filmmakers, but now they offer adults a 16-week rigorous documentary filmmaking course. Here, participants work on a personal production guide that includes a narrative treatment, storyboard, film budget, and a trailer of their film.
* Take advantage of an annual membership to the Hansborough Recreation Center for only $150 – Sponsored by the City of NY/Parks & Recreation, The HRC has provided the most affordable and extensive network of recreational services throughout New York City. They offer services such as indoor pools, weight rooms, basketball courts, dance studios, boxing rings, art studios, game rooms, and libraries.
*Free Admission every Sunday at the Studio Museum – The nexus for artist of African descent, The Studio exhibits a wealth of African American culture often under represented. Dance lovers should check out the "Hoofer's House" featured on the occasional Friday night where the best tap dancers in NYC challenge one another on the "wood". Visit in the summertime, when the evening music programming samples everything from Cuban to Neo Soul – the outdoor dancing on the Studio's patio attracts the neighborhood's hip local artists and designers. Architecture afficionados can take the Studio's walking tour that carefully revisits historic Harlem's best neighborhoods.