In Utah, Confettis aren't bits of paper thrown at a birthday party. A Zephyr is not the west wind, nor is the Bay a body of water partially enclosed by land.
They are actually three of Utah's most popular dance and music clubs.If this information surprised you, it could mean two things. First, you just moved in to the state, or second, you aren't part of Utah's mainstream night life.
Not that there's anything wrong with dancing the night away. Although I have never been to a club, I see nothing wrong with them. In fact, those geared toward teens sound fun. But teens and adults should not limit themselves. Too often, because of habit or peer influence, people think Utah offers no other interesting things to do at night. Although Salt Lake City lacks the variety of, say, San Francisco, this attitude is false. Other pickings of Utah night life may seem slim, but only if you don't know where to look.
The play's the thing
Surprisingly, many Utah teens are unaware of a wonderful aspect of Salt Lake's night life: the theater. Every season, every night, a performance is going on somewhere in the valley. Needless to say, teens are more than welcome in the audience.
Teens shouldn't feel anything less than welcome, either. Most of Utah's theaters are reasonably priced, especially when it come to student tickets. Student rush tickets (available for everything from plays to symphonies) usually cost under $10. For example, I once paid only $6 to see Utah Opera Company's "Romeo and Juliet." Although I was seated far up in the balcony, my enjoyment of the performance wasn't affected.
Viewing any well-directed play is a stimulating experience. Unlike movies, plays are exciting because of their immediacy. It is almost impossible not to get caught up in the lives of characters only a few feet away. In this case, they start feeling less like characters and more like real people. Before the night is over, you may find yourself laughing and crying along with them.
This connection is what makes a night at the theater wonderful. Although theater may make you think, it is not boring or pointless. On the contrary, a play can be meaningful enough to be remembered for years to come.
In addition to being entertaining, Utah theater literally has something for everyone. Teens looking for more traditional plays and musicals should look into Hale Center Theatre or the Grand Theatre. Here, productions of such Utah favorites as "Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dream Coat" are common.
But, if you're like me, you may prefer something a little different. If unfamiliar plays such as "Waiting for Godot," "The Cherry Orchard" and "The Buried Child" sound intriguing, head toward a college campus. University theaters perform several lesser-known plays each year. As always, ticket prices here are low and even cheaper with a student I.D.
A little night music
Teens tired of hearing Chumbawamba and Smash Mouth on the radio might be interested in hearing them live. In addition to drama, Utah favors concerts of new and old music. In one evening downtown, Aerosmith and the Mormon Tabernacle Choir might be performing literally within blocks of each other.
Concerts are ideal for nights out, especially for teens. If you really miss the dance club atmosphere, see what's on at the Delta Center. If the Utah Jazz aren't playing, chances are Janet Jackson will be. While you may have a hard time dancing, you can still see a favorite artist.
But don't forget that something had to come before the Rolling Stones and Smashing Pumpkins. Teens might be interested in listening to a little Mozart or Beethoven instead.
In spite of contemporary opinions, classical music is far from being outdated. Although more than 200 years old, Mozart's concertos are still charming and Beethoven's symphonies are more powerful than ever. Further, you don't have to go to Europe to hear either of them anymore.
These and other classical works are performed at several places around the valley. Utah Symphony, for example, can usually be found performing everything from Schubert to Sondheim every year. For those with less money, Temple Square's Assembly Hall offers free concerts almost every weekend. These and other concerts are relaxing and fun to attend. They may also provide a use for that prom dress you swore you'd never wear again.
Simplify, simplify, simplify
But teens don't have to listen to Gershwin or watch Shakespeare to have a good time. In fact, they don't even have to go downtown. Sometimes, the best thing to do for a good `night out' is to have a night at home.
Although participation in night life is a fun and necessary part of life, it should not be overdone. Spending too much time at anything from a dance club to a play is a bad idea. It cheapens the value of these events and the whole idea of night life itself. After all, if we spend so much time `getting away from it all," we may forget just what it is we're getting away from.
A good Saturday night activity may simply consist of ordering a pizza and watching a movie with a friend. In today's busy world, teens have little time to sit down and talk anymore. And the opportunities for this are becoming fewer. As soon as college rolls around, many of these friends will be separated from us forever. So why not enjoy them while there's still time?
If the thought of staying home really bothers you, there are still other possibilities. Going for a walk, taking a drive and visiting friends are just a few alternatives to spending a night on the town.
Of course, we as teens want to see and do as much as we can. There are new options to explore, and we should explore all we possibly can. But no teen should ever be afraid to look into some alternative ideas for having fun. Even if it means forgetting that Safari is a club, not a jungle expedition.