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Lush Life

Silent films, belly dancers, noisy folk and Southern foods fill up November in Richmond.

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Khalima and other belly dancers perform during brunch Nov. 20 at Balliceaux. - KHALIMA DANCE
  • Khalima Dance
  • Khalima and other belly dancers perform during brunch Nov. 20 at Balliceaux.

Here comes November and the beginning of holiday season, so it’s doubly important to get out and have some fun before the double whammy of family obligations and stress eat you alive. Here are some ideas:

Unusual Folk with Comfort: I see all kinds of possibilities for fun starting with the first day of the month. Genre-bending folk band Pygmy Lush plays a show at Gallery5 at 8 p.m., but let me warn you right up front that it isn’t your typical folk band. Its members started out in hardcore bands, making a whole lot of noise. They’ve taken that background and shaped it into an innovative style that delivers songwriting and sound that are an interesting and unexpected treat for music lovers.

Pygmy Lush headlines at Gallery5 this month. - BEN TANKERSLEY
  • Ben Tankersley
  • Pygmy Lush headlines at Gallery5 this month.

There are three opening bands — Screaming Females, Big Eyes and Failures Union — so it’s a full night of music. If you aren’t up to seeing all the bands, stop by Gallery5 to buy your ticket and then go to Comfort, a block away, and mosey back over when you feel like it. I wouldn’t push it much past 10 p.m. though, because Pygmy Lush is going to attract a good crowd. gallery5arts.org.

Short Attention Spans Allowed: The James River Film Society has created another superb event; this time it’s the James River Shorts Festival. On Friday, Nov. 11, at 6:30 p.m., the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts will play host to an evening of the best short films and videos from all over the world chosen by a juried competition. Tickets can be purchased through the museum and I expect to see more than a few film lovers upstairs at Amuse enjoying a cocktail beforehand. jamesriverfilm.org.

The Photosynthesizers improvise a soundtrack at Firehouse Theatre. - ASH DANIEL
  • Ash Daniel
  • The Photosynthesizers improvise a soundtrack at Firehouse Theatre.

No-Cost Sunday Music: If you’re on a budget, the best free event of the month is the Silent Music Revival on Sunday, Nov. 13, at 8 p.m. at the Firehouse Theatre. A vintage silent film plays while a local band improvises a soundtrack. This month’s offering is 1948’s “The Uncomfortable Man.” Taking on the challenge for November will be Photosynthesizers, a band that never ceases to amaze audiences with its high-energy live shows.

The film is an interesting choice because it’s intentionally silent although technology had long since evolved to talkies. If you’ve never been to a Silent Music Revival, take note: The event starts promptly at 8 p.m., and because most films shown are less than a half-hour, you won’t want to miss a minute. There’s a bar at the Firehouse Theatre and it even sells $1 candy, so you can enjoy a real movie experience probably unlike any you’ve had.

Brunch With Bellies: Kick off your Thanksgiving Day week with Balliceaux’s Bellydance Brunch Cabaret at 12:30 p.m. on Sunday, Nov. 20. Whether or not you’re going to cook the big dinner, it’s going to be a trying week, so how better to launch it than with breakfast cocktails, brunch and belly dancing? Performing will be the very fine Khalima Dance as well as regional professional dancers and up-and-coming belly dancers and musicians of many styles.

If you’ve never eaten next to shimmying hips, I highly recommend the experience. And in case the night before is a late one, Balliceaux has three hangover-helper dishes to address the needs of body, mind and soul. Breakfast, after all, should be a cabaret sometimes. www.balliceauxrva.com.

Mashed potatoes from Comfort are satisfyingly southern. - SCOTT ELMQUIST
  • Scott Elmquist
  • Mashed potatoes from Comfort are satisfyingly southern.

I don’t need to wish everyone a happy Thanksgiving because who can’t enjoy a holiday all about eating? Never fear, there will be plenty to keep you busy working it off next month!

Karen Newton blogs about much of what she does at icouldgoonandon.blogspot.com.

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