When it comes to a night out with friends, I’m not much into planning. I’m more of the tag-along sort.
Which is how I ended up one of eight people locked inside a darkened room in some nondescript office complex, shining a black light at the walls, looking for puzzle clues while a countdown clock ticked away an hour. This was an adult birthday party at an escape room; one of several that have opened in the area recently.
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Here are a few other entertainment choices I’ve seen bubbling up the past few months.
I bowl semi-competitively. By that I mean, I own my own ball and shoes and send money to the United States Bowling Congress each year so I can be a card-carrying member. I have an average. So, bowling isn’t my first choice for a fun night out with friends.
For many, though, it is. Bowling alleys have been working to bring in younger, non-league bowlers. Which means updated decor – bright colors and lots of neon – better food and drinks and nightly specials. AMF’s Rodeo Lanes does a $2 Tuesday, with $2 games, $2 shoe rentals and $2 PBR after 8 p.m. and is often packed until closing.
Which is to say, there can be long wait times during peak hours. You might want to call them before you head out.
Movies outside the multiplex
The multiplexes are good for the blockbusters and mainstream movies, like “Get Out,” which is worth mention because it’s running 99% on Rotten Tomatoes. But they miss smaller, independent and foreign films and rarely do re-screenings of classic and cult movies.
For that, you’ll have to look elsewhere.
Fresno Filmworks is obvious. It runs first-run independent and international films each month at the Tower Theater. Next week it screens the documentary “I Am Not Your Negro.”
There’s also Downtown Classic Movies, which screens monthly at Bitwise Industries. So far it has shown 1962’s “Manchurian Candidate” and 1953’s “Roman Holiday.” It’s next film is John Carpenter’s 1988 cult hit “They Live.” That movie shows 7 p.m. March 15.
Visalia Fox Theatre does two monthly movie nights – Way Back Wednesdays and Throwback Thursdays. The first is dedicated to classic films, like “Citizen Kane,” which screen March 22. The other is dedicated to more hits movies from the 1980s. “Trading Places” screens Thursday. “Who Framed Roger Rabbit,” screens April 6.
If you are into bad movies – like so bad they’re almost good – Fresno’s Savage Cinema Club has a monthly movie night at Full Circling Brewing Company. It includes drinking games and “Mystery Science Theater”-style commentary. Last month, it screened Patrick Swazye’s “Roadhouse.” Sylvester Stallone 1986’s movie “Cobra,” shows 8 p.m. Wednesday.
Open mics and live karaoke
There was a run of years when Fresno seemed to have a shortage of open mics nights. Now, you can just pick a day: Michael Ault does Monday nights at Mia Cuppa Caffe, bluesman John Clifton has Tuesday nights at Intimo Lounge, Vince Warner does most Wednesdays at Tokyo Garden and Lee Walker hosts a Thursday jam at Skyline Club in Clovis.
In a similar vein, Fulton 55 has started hosting a Live Band Karaoke the last Thursday of each month. The night allows guests to front Fresno’s R&B, hip-hop, dance band The Box. A song list is posted online before each event and lyrics sheets are provided. The next event is March 30.
This is billed as Fresno’s first live band karaoke night, which should be remember when the idea becomes a full-on trend.