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An Interactive Way to Ring in 2012: First Night Saratoga

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First Night Saratoga 2012

Saratoga’s New Year’s Eve Celebration–First Night: Art Unleashed

20 days. 3 hours. 10 minutes. 40 seconds.

The countdown to First Night Saratoga 2012 has begun! For just $12-$15 per person (children under 5 are free), you can enjoy six hours of entertainment by attending 70 performances in 35 different venues, on December 31, 2011.

In Bb 2.0This year’s theme is Art Unleashed and to celebrate, Saratoga Arts is launching a new installation: a collaborative music and spoken word project. In Bb 2.0 is an “interactive sonic experience” which was conceived by Darren Solomon and developed with contributions from various users. Everyone is encouraged to make a video of themselves singing or playing an instrument in Bb Major. On New Year’s Eve, you’ll have a chance to see the new piece and create your own way of playing it. It’s a little hard to explain, so head on over to for an example and then to for how to submit your video.

There are so many different performances happening that they can’t all be listed here, but here are a few that may be of interest:

If you liked “Whose Line is it, Anyway?,” you might want to check out Mop and Bucket Company. The group, composed of professional actors and improvisers, are known for their range of short and long form improv, which makes for lots of energy and laughter.

To continue its 13-year tradition, the Saratoga City Ballet will present excerpts from “Land of the Sweets,” with music by Tchaikovsky. Are you more in the mood for vocal impressions of Tony Bennett, Nat King Cole, or Johnny Mathis? Then take a few moments to visit “The Human Jukebox” Edward T. Clifford, who is known for his uncanny ability to mimic the vocal styles of many famous singers.

Hair of the DogAn abundance of energy is what you’ll get from Hair of the Dog, a Celtic, rock, folk and bluegrass band, playing at 6pm at the First Baptist Church. For the late night crowd, Bluz House Rockers, “one of the Capital Region’s best-known party bands,” will be performing at the Saratoga City Music Hall starting at 9pm.

Seeking a little relaxation? Head over to One Big Roof for a Gong Bath. Each tone builds on the one before it, creating a “sea of sound that is both timeless and alive.” This experience promises to release tensions, something many could use before the start of a new year! Also relaxing: the Ballston Spa Film Festival will screen prime selections of their finest short films in the Dee Sarno Theater at 320 Broadway.

Feel like dancing? Participate in a Chinese Dance Parade, starting from the National Museum of Dance. The dance, Yang Ger, is a tradition in Northern China, featuring authentic Chinese New Year music and decorations. Less traditional, but incorporating a little more movement, are Elaina’s Stars of Belly Dance, who will demonstrate “the art of classic American and Egyptian belly dancing.”

Gathering Time is a must-stop for those who enjoy Simon & Garfunkel, Joni Mitchell, The Eagles and/or The Byrds, as these influences are evident in this three-voice group. Captain Squeeze and the Zydeco Moshers, on the other hand, will perform their Louisiana blues with free dance lessons for all.

Professor LouieAll evening you’ll find the “Hands Off Arcade” in Meeting Room 1 of the Saratoga Springs City Center. Described as “a retro-techno interactive experience updating the concept of a classic video arcade to showcase amazing new gaming technology being developed today,” this is clearly something not to be missed. One of the games being displayed is “Conjurer’s Dream,” where you can create various objects from thin air. Definitely one of those “see it to believe it” things.

Also performing live are the Tartan Terrors, the Nancy Walker Trio and Woodstock’s own Professor Louie & The Crowmatix.

For more events and details, go to

An alternative to the downtown performances is the 14th Annual First Night Saratoga 5K Run. The race is scheduled start is 5:30 p.m. at the Skidmore College Athletic Complex. Registration is limited to 1,500 runners ($30 fee) so fill out your application early. For more details, visit

Tickets for First Night Saratoga come in the form of a button, which provides access to all the attractions, all night. These buttons can be purchased at The Arts Center, Stewart’s Shops, Adirondack Trust Branches, Price Choppers in the region, the Saratoga Springs YMCA, or online.

If you’re interested in volunteering for any part of the night, you can contact Maria Panayotou at 518-496-1327 or

Halley Ofner is a Contributor to The Free George.

The Free George is the online magazine and visitors’ guide of Upstate NY, covering things from Albany to Lake Placid, including Saratoga, the Lake George region and the Adirondacks. Check out our City Blogs section for our extended coverage areas as well.

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