If you’re tired of the theater scene, the bar scene, the club scene and just about every other “scene” in New York or find yourself constantly saying “been there, done that” then maybe it’s time to take a walk off the beaten path and try something… different (and I’m not talking about getting your face pierced for the umpteenth time). Whether it’s glassblowing, DJing or working as a secret agent — there are still some things in New York City you may have yet to try. Here’s a list of ten atypical activities that may interest you. By Nicola A. Menzie
100 Center Street
New York, N.Y.
Remember that 80s TV series with an awesome theme song about a New York City judge and his weird court room cast and the high jinks and mayhem that ensued during their night shift? Well, this isn’t quite it – the scenes in downtown Manhattan’s Criminal Court may unfold before a live audience but the drama goes on for 24 hours – between Thursday and Saturday (8:30 a.m. – 8:30 a.m.); from Sunday to Wednesday cases run until 1 a.m. It’s absolutely open to the public and it’s 100 Centre Street location is accessible by several subways and buses.
This is for the detectives at heart (or the scholarly and just plain curious) and those who don’t mind running around the city with an actual purpose. For $25 you can join in on a public scavenger hunt (although private hunts can be arranged) in which you and your five teammates explore certain locations (such as the American Museum of Natural History, Greenwich Village or Chinatown, just to name a few) and use clues on the scene to “tackle tricky, humorous questions about the objects and places discovered.” Hunts are held practically year-round in New York City and New Jersey. Also, if there are any kids in your life, there are several family hunts you can sign up for. Tickets have to be purchased in advance, so peruse the calendar and let the adventure begin!
New York Jedi
This is exactly what it sounds like – grownups twirling around waving light sabers (it looks cool when Luke Skywalker does it, right?) But seriously, if “Star Wars” is (or isn’t) your thing, you may want to sign up for some classes, most of which are $10, and are taught by certified martial artists and military vets. It’s for fun but the group hopes that along the way participants “stretch their own boundaries of physical and mental abilities to become someone stronger and more confident.” If you’re curious, check out the website and see them in action on the group’s YouTube page.
Scratch DJ Academy
434 Sixth Ave New York
New York, NY 10011
Have you got two turntables and a microphone? Either way, the late Jam Master Jay’s DJ academy will show you how to really get live on the ones and twos or your laptop. Free one-hour introductory sessions are held occasionally to give prospective students a taste of what to expect during the weeks-long courses (prices vary), 5-day crash courses ($350) or private lessons ($80-$150 per hour). The faculty consists of “innovators and icons of the art form, accomplished club DJs, decorated battle champions, world-renowned producer” so you may end up learning from someone in rotation on your iPod
Vaguely similar to Watson Adventures, StreetWars is for those James Bond wannabes (or Maxwell Smarts) who don’t mind smoking a target in broad daylight. If you have fantasies of being a secret agent, live in the five boroughs of New York City, can burn $45 and don’t have to leave town for three weeks, then my friend, StreetWars may be for you. As explained on the website, “StreetWars is a 3 week long, 24/7, water gun assassination tournament” where players get secret identities, vitals about their target and an allotted time to take them out (via water, of course). Last team standing gets the cash — now you have a motive to check it out.
647 Fulton St
Brooklyn, NY 11217
Maybe there’s an artist deep down inside of you just dying to break free? Or maybe you’ve been told several times by various people that you’re full of hot air? — Well, now’s your chance to put it to good use. UrbanGlass, located in downtown Brooklyn, wants to teach that artist in you about glassblowing, stained glass windows, mosaics and more. If you can’t commit to a semester-long course (ranging from $195-$700) there are also private lessons ($1,000). According to the institution more than “900 students a year come from around the world to study and work with a faculty” that includes recognized and established artists and designers. Now’s your chance to put all of that creative energy (and hot air) to good use.
Celeb 4 A Day
If you’ve got a bit of an ego or you’re tired of doing the stalking and think it’s time someone finally returned the favor, a good dose of star treatment may be what you need. Celeb 4 A Day can arrange to have a pack of paparazzi hound you or someone you know (note: this is supposed to be fun, not torturous) for a pre-arranged period of time. The service is only available in Manhattan, and due to obvious safety concerns, the organizers appear very stringent about following the law (i.e., in regards to taking photos on private property) and ensuring everyone is safe (i.e., not chasing clients through traffic). Packages range from $500 to $2, 999 and depending on what you choose, you could get your photo on the cover of a magazine (custom made of course), copies of photos taken and the envy of all those haters.
Dr. Sketchy’s Anti-Art School
Are you game for some dirty life drawing? That’s what the founder, Molly Crabapple, is inviting you to do every other Saturday between 4 p.m. – 7 p.m. at her risqué life drawing class. Part art class, part bar lounge and part freak show (circus performers, little persons, contortionists, female body builders and drag queens are just some of the folks invited to apply to sit in as models), Dr. Sketchy’s appears to be all fun for those who don’t mind stepping out of the box. Check the location for the next class and reserve a table online for $15 (or pay $10 at the door). Don’t forget to bring your art supplies.
Jeffrey’s School of Butchery
Jeffrey’s Meat Market
120 Essex Street (@ the Essex Street Market)
New York, N.Y. 10002
Yes, this is about cutting, quartering and preparing meat. No, you don’t actually get to do the cutting and quartering. But, Master Butcher Jeffrey Ruhalter will let you take home some of the wares. Ruhalter, a 4th generation butcher and owner of a meat market dating back to 1902, oversees demonstrations on “basic butchering and a complete breakdown of Pork, Beef, Lamb and Foul” at his shop inside the Essex Street Market on the Lower East Side. Classes are held Saturdays from 10 a.m.-12 p.m. and cost $75, depending on how many classes you take. Private classes can also be arranged. Want to learn how to wield a meat cleaver? Give Ruhalter’s class a try. However, if you faint at the sight of your own blood, a butchering class probably is not for you
Hot Air Balloon Rides
There are a few companies in the Tri-State area offering a view of the air up there, and there’s even one offering hot air balloon rides over Manhattan. But if you’re tired of looking at the City — from any angle — there are other options. Most of these companies are at least an hour away from New York City and one company even offers transportation from the city to their New Jersey location.
Above The Clouds, Inc. flies over the Hudson Valley twice daily, seven days a week with prices starting at $169.
PO Box 4816, Middletown
In Flight Balloon Adventures, LLC not only offers flights but can also arrange for a romantic overnight adventure (read about it yourself) and rates start at $200.
P.O. Box 5339
Clinton, N.J. 08809
Above And Beyond Ballooning claim they are the only company in the world to offer balloon flights over New York City — for a whopping $3,995 (if you go solo).
Big Apple Balloon Rides offers to arrange for your transportation from Manhattan to their New Jersey location where you’ll take in views of farms, lakes and woods and a supposed “safari of wildlife” — for $260, based on a two-person minimum.
36 Seventh Street
Frenchtown, N.J. 08825