10 Lessons After Dark Learned in 2012

Enlighten your nightlife with this run-down of surprising and indispensable finds.


Industry Public House photo by Laura Petrilla
 

Writing the After Dark blog is one of my favorite things about working at Pittsburgh Magazine. It’s also frequently confusing.

“Nightlife” is, after all, a broad category. Narrowly, it encompasses bars, food, music, comedy and more. Broadly, you can expand that to film, theater, sports, clubs and organizations, museums, literary events, and pretty much anything else that people can attend.

Frankly, I haven’t always been able to limit myself to things that happen at night.



So, to wrap up the year with a look back at some of my favorite places, things and experiences — all worthy of more attention, certainly — let’s review What After Dark Taught Me in 2012.

Lesson #1: I can stop reminding people that Pittsburgh’s stand-up scene is booming
The city has taken notice. Not only were the trio of showcases I highlighted over Thanksgiving weekend rousing successes, but as I write this, Aaron Kleiber is gearing up to film a DVD at the Improv — before Bill Crawford takes over for the rest of the weekend. There aren’t too many breeding grounds for laughs better than ours.


Lesson #2: It’s not always about the pursuit of perfection
Watching weekend warriors climb into the ring at a Keystone State Wrestling Association show isn’t the polished, frenetic show you’ll get when the WWE rolls in to the Consol Energy Center — but, while you sip a beer in the back of the Lawrenceville Moose and cheer on a spandexed Yinzer as he flies off the top rope, you’ll realize that it’s just as fun.


Lesson #3: Pittsburgh is big enough to support a rockin’ underground theater scene
This came up time and again, from 12 Peers to The Pittsburgh Monologue Project to Bricolage to No Name Players to Off the Wall, making the lesson inescapable: if you only go to musicals at the Benedum and the occasional show at the Public or City, you’re missing out.


Lesson #4: There’s always more below the surface
When I was zombified for a piece on The ScareHouse, I knew that the folks behind the Etna attraction were pros — but I was blown away by the detail and knowledge they brought to every aspect of the process, from explaining how I suffered the faux wounds on my face to discussing the finer points of undead vocalization. Can these guys just stay open year-round already?



Lesson #5: A bar can be reborn, without changing the name on the sign
The Smiling Moose went from Carson Street afterthought to indispensable destination by sheer force of will. There’s a question mark in the headline of that piece; I’m pretty sure we can remove it.


Lesson #6: Never delete a press release
Otherwise, I might not have learned about pro squash.


Lesson #7: Hough’s bar is great
I only gave the Greenfield bar love in my post-Steelers football guide last January, with the promise to do a full piece on the beloved bar. I don’t believe I ever got around to that. But still, they’re great. Probably my new go-to for watching a game.


Lesson #8: Pittsburgh never stops looking great on the silver screen
Even as Jack Reacher rolls into theaters — with Promised Land en route — I’m always amazed by how picturesque and apropos the Steel City is when deployed by a film crew. And The Perks of Being a Wallflower might be the best example yet. (And, yes, Won’t Back Down is certainly the worst.)



Lesson #9: Don’t judge a neighborhood by its reputation
I had all but written off the main drag of Lawrenceville before Industry Public House opened its doors. Since then, I’ve developed a renewed love for the hipster capital of Western Pennsylvania. Maybe I’m just getting soft.


Lesson #10: There will always be something new to discover
Of everything I’ve seen and experienced for PM in 2012, nothing was as memorable as STRATA, the immersive experience created by Bricolage Production Company. Redefining an artform is no easy task, but STRATA pulled out all the stops to create a play in which each individual audience member was the main character. If we’re lucky, they’ll bring it back (or do something similar) in 2013 or 2014. If we’re luckier still, this is the direction that ambitious theater is moving. But no matter what — from cocktails to cabarets — there will never be a lack of innovation. Happy New Year, Pittsburgh — I can’t wait to see what 2013 brings.
 

Edit Module

Edit ModuleShow Tags

The 412

Pittsburgh Magazine Wins 7 Golden Quill Awards

Pittsburgh Magazine Wins 7 Golden Quill Awards

Sponsored by the Press Club of Western Pennsylvania, the contest recognizes excellence in magazine, newspaper, broadcast and online journalism.
Got Tickets? Pittsburgh's Best, Biggest Food Event Is Weeks Away

Got Tickets? Pittsburgh's Best, Biggest Food Event Is Weeks Away

Join us on June 8 at Heinz Field for the 26th annual Best Restaurants Party.
Bow Wow: Pittsburgh Gets Props for Dog Parks

Bow Wow: Pittsburgh Gets Props for Dog Parks

The city earned a No. 1 ranking for giving our four-legged friends plenty of room to roam.
Idlewild Park Opening with New Ride

Idlewild Park Opening with New Ride

The park begins its 138th season this weekend.
Edit ModuleShow Tags

Hot Reads

Pittsburgh's Best Restaurants 2015

Pittsburgh's Best Restaurants 2015

Which 33 establishments did our independent Restaurant Review Panel include among its top picks this year? Find them here.
The Right Recipe: Spy Inside 5 Killer Kitchens

The Right Recipe: Spy Inside 5 Killer Kitchens

Executive chefs often are given much of the credit for their restaurants’ success, but that praise would be hard to bestow if each did not lead an outstanding kitchen brigade.
The Beginner's Garden: How to Easily Create a Summer Eden

The Beginner's Garden: How to Easily Create a Summer Eden

From ferns to forsythia, there are ample growth opportunities for creating a gorgeous, low-maintenance garden this year in your own backyard.
PittGirl Believes She is Totally Right about the Pittsburgh Left

PittGirl Believes She is Totally Right about the Pittsburgh Left

In this case, as in most others, it's better to give than take.
Edit ModuleShow Tags Edit ModuleShow Tags Edit ModuleShow Tags

On the Blogs


Everything That's Awesome About Pittsburgh Today
Pittsburgh Magazine Wins 7 Golden Quill Awards

Pittsburgh Magazine Wins 7 Golden Quill Awards

Sponsored by the Press Club of Western Pennsylvania, the contest recognizes excellence in magazine, newspaper, broadcast and online journalism.

Comments


Pittsburgh, only cooler
Why You Need to Know These 4 Bold Pittsburgh Women

Why You Need to Know These 4 Bold Pittsburgh Women

PittGirl says these women "had Girl Power before the world knew what Girl Power meant."

Comments


All the foodie news that's fit to blog
Pittsburgh Says Farewell to Penn Mac's 'Dearheart'

Pittsburgh Says Farewell to Penn Mac's 'Dearheart'

Pittsburgh's food community paid tribute to Carol Pascuzzi's contributions at the cheese counter where she dispensed invaluable advice.

Comments


Not just good stuff. Great stuff.
6 Great Pittsburgh-Area Places to Watch Outdoor Concerts

6 Great Pittsburgh-Area Places to Watch Outdoor Concerts

Get the rundown on who's playing at our favorite summer venues.

Comments


Bricolage's Sweeping 'SAINTS TOUR' Turns Braddock Into One Big Stage

Bricolage's Sweeping 'SAINTS TOUR' Turns Braddock Into One Big Stage

The innovative company's latest immersive theater project takes audiences on an uncanny journey through the small town.

Comments


Party Time: Kaya Celebrates 20 Years with Festival and Food

Party Time: Kaya Celebrates 20 Years with Festival and Food

The Strip District's Latin/Caribbean restaurant marks the occasion with several shindigs, including the ever-popular Kaya Fest.

Comments


Style. Design. Goods. Hide your credit card.
Mack at You – The Perfectly Chic Summer Platform Sandal

Mack at You – The Perfectly Chic Summer Platform Sandal

Pittsburgh-based designer Emy Mack, who recently opened a boutique in Shadyside, has the shoe style you need for the warmer weather.

Comments


This week's buzz from the PM editors
PyroFest Will Kick off with a Bang

PyroFest Will Kick off with a Bang

This year's fireworks-focused festivities will take place in Slippery Rock, Pa., through Saturday.

Comments


Everything you need to know about getting married in Pittsburgh today.
Pittsburgh's 5 Most Popular Spots for Perfect Wedding Photos

Pittsburgh's 5 Most Popular Spots for Perfect Wedding Photos

So why do brides and grooms tend to flock to these spots?

Comments


The latest tips and trends to refresh your home.
Head to the City for the Ultimate Flea Market

Head to the City for the Ultimate Flea Market

Neighborhood Flea returns for 2015, bringing with it an assortment of goods, workshops, food and more.

Comments


The hottest topics in higher education
New Science Lab to Debut This Summer in the Hill District

New Science Lab to Debut This Summer in the Hill District

The lab, a partnership between Duquesne University and Urban Innovation 21, will offer courses for a range of learners, including students in grades 3-12.

Comments


Thinking outside the box (score)
Pittsburgh's Best (and Worst) Sports Uniforms of All Time

Pittsburgh's Best (and Worst) Sports Uniforms of All Time

Sports teams are constantly reaching back into their history for throwback jerseys. But “retro” isn’t always a term of endearment when it comes to uniforms.

Comments


Award-winning sports commentary by Sean Conboy
R.I.P. Corporate Penguins, 2009-2014

R.I.P. Corporate Penguins, 2009-2014

Fire Bylsma? Fire Shero? The Penguins' problems run deeper.

Comments