Tag Archives: The Max

Vaudeville, Violins, and Rollerskating

January 25, 2018 by
Photography by Contributed

Subscribe to our free weekly newsletter here.

PICK OF THE WEEKSaturday, Jan. 27: In the mood for some rockin’ Midwest blues music with heavy guitar riffs? Then you need to catch 35th and Taylor at The Session Room. While lead singer Anna Taylor might seem too young to be singing the blues, she is already a seasoned veteran when it comes to performing, having appeared on The Voice at the age of 16. The show starts at 7 p.m., but if you’re running a little late, don’t worry about stopping for food. They will have a limited menu available that evening. To find out more about the event and the band, head here.

Thursday, Jan. 25: It’s too cold out for rollerblading or biking, but don’t let that stop you from getting some fun exercise. Head to Old School Skate Nite! at Skate Daze, hosted by Arbor Street Studios. Every Thursday from now until May 31, you can enjoy your favorite old-school hip-hop and R&B music while working out those weird leg muscles you only seem to find when you’re trying to keep yourself from falling. Get out of the house and experience a true throwback Thursday. Find out more here.

Friday, Jan. 26 and Saturday, Jan. 27: Award-winning violinist Jinjoo Cho will be in Omaha this weekend at the Omaha Conservatory of Music. She will be performing a free concert on Friday at 7 p.m. But if you can’t make it out for that, she’s also interacting with selected students in a master class from 10:30 a.m. until 12:30 p.m. on Saturday. This is open to the public as well. You won’t want to miss seeing this charismatic, vibrant violinist in person. Learn more about the concert here. Check out what else the conservatory has to offer here.

Friday, Jan. 26 and Saturday, Jan. 27: Be among the first to check out Omaha’s own vaudevillian extravaganza this weekend when the Benson Theatre presents Vaudeville Frolic at B Side. This Friday marks the first in a series of monthly showcases grouping together acts that one otherwise wouldn’t see performing on the same stage. From magic, to comedy, to martial arts, there will be a little something of interest for everyone. Proceeds from these events will benefit the theater’s capital campaign. Tap your way over here for more information.

Saturday, Jan. 27: It’s time to dress up for a good cause again. Rosie Rocks a Night in Monte Carlo is a black-tie-optional benefit for The Rose Theater, and this year it will be at the new Marriott in downtown’s Capitol District. This adults-only event is sure to show you a good time, with dinner, dancing, cocktails, and ritzy raffle prizes. The good times start at 5:30 p.m. Be sure to get your tickets beforehand for this exclusive annual fundraiser. Dance it over here to purchase yours now.

Sunday, Jan. 28: If you know anything about The Max, you know it’s time for the prestigious Miss Max Pageant. This is the 34th Miss Max show and if you haven’t been, well, what’s stopping you? It’s a full night of fun, entertainment, glamour, and competition. If you think RuPaul’s Drag Race is a good show, you haven’t seen anything yet. Check out the former queens of the night, and cheer on your favorite contestant. The pageantry starts at 9 p.m. To find out more, sashay it over here.

New Year’s Eve Parties

December 8, 2017 by
Photography by provided | Reverb photo by Joi Katskee

Where should you ring in the new year? Local options range from downtown dance parties to kicking it cowboy-style in the suburbs and everything in between. No matter if your preference is champagne and cocktail dresses or margaritas, one of these suggestions will take you into 2018 with style.

The Max
1417 Jackson St.
402-346-4110
themaxomaha.com

Omaha’s original gay nightclub will once again host its annual New Year’s Eve bash. Every corner of the club will be decorated with balloons and other festive décor. Bartenders will sling drinks at all five bars, but be sure to arrive to this celebration early. Party-goers will pack both dance floors, and lines overflowing onto downtown streets are also part of the tradition. The party starts at 9 p.m.

Voodoo Bar
304 N. 168th Circle
402-968-0700
facebook.com/voodoo.bar1

Did someone say, “free champagne?” You heard right—Voodoo Bar will continue its tradition of a free champagne toast for party people this New Year’s Eve. Guests will also be treated to free hors d’oeuvres and a DJ. Dancing, drinks, and music begin at 9 p.m.

Reverb lounge
6121 Military Ave.
402-884-5707
reverblounge.com/event/string-theory-nye-2018/

Count down the final hours of 2017 with EDM duo String Theory at Reverb, one of several local bands that will bring the year to a close in the heart of Benson. Dance, drink, and celebrate the connecting powers of music with dazzling performances. The bash will begin at 9 p.m.

Bushwackers Dance Hall
and Saloon
7401 Main St., Ralston
402-593-9037
bushwackerssaloonomaha.com

If your perfect party includes line dancing, say “howdy” to this Ralston favorite. Two-step into the new year with hip-hop and pop hits thrown into the primarily country-music mix and drink specials from 7 p.m. to 2 a.m. City slickers and country folk alike will get a kick out of this celebration.

New Year’s Eve Fireworks Spectacular,
Gene Leahy Mall
14th and Farnam streets
holidaylightsfestival.org

While you’re out and about this New Year’s Eve, don’t forget to stop by Gene Leahy Mall. The spectacular fireworks show is expected to draw over 30,000 people—so be sure to arrive early. If crowds aren’t your thing, then head into the park for a quiet stroll with loved ones or simply enjoy the glimmering holiday lights. Fireworks start at 7 p.m.

This article was originally printed in the November/December 2017 edition of Omaha Magazine.

A Night at The Max

January 8, 2015 by
Photography by Bill Sitzmann

Here are the town eccentrics, the artists, the kings and queens of drag, those who love to dance and those attempting to hook up. Here are the civilized, but just as often the debauchers and hedonists, the flat-out jerks, and, at certain times, the tittering bachelorette bacchanals and the best and worst of Husker fandom.

This is the Omaha that dies every Monday morning, then rises again on weekend nights. And they flock to a distinct dance club in droves, all of them, proving—contrary to a well-worn blurb The New York Times issued once upon a time—The Max is no longer the place to be on Saturday nights. It’s the place where everyone is on Saturday nights.

And tonight, I am one of them.

“People coming to The Max for the first time think we just recently opened,” says Stosh Moran, one of the club’s staple personalities and partner of owner Bruce Barnard. “There’s a full crew working during the day to keep The Max looking fresh and new. Bruce is constantly ordering new lights and keeping on top of what’s new and trending.”

It’s too dark to tell, but I think I’ve discovered the lekking grounds of an ancient cult. That is, until a strobe flare overpowers a darkness flecked with polychromatic pin spots and lasers. I’m in the disco hall, the club’s most popular room, and a heavy fog of human flesh has been revealed. The air is surprisingly sweet, despite the stagnant humidity generated from perspiring bodies. I move amongst the movement, but I’m not drunk enough yet to dance.

The blast of light expires and a throng of swaying silhouettes returns. A shirtless man tugs at the bulge in another man’s jeans, drawing him in closer. Two women grind arrhythmically as their mouths attempt to meet, and the hands of a middle-aged man trace the curves of a middle-aged woman’s body. The dance floor doesn’t discriminate.

“No funny business, but can I touch your beard?” a young disciple of loosened inhibitions asks. “Just once. Seriously, no funny business.”

“Okay,” I say, because, you know, I’m at The Max, and at what other time can I entertain such an odd request?

As he pets my face, I close my eyes and dissolve into the soundscape, which is loud and hypnotic. “Turn Down For What” segues into a remix of “Baby Got Back” to the tune, or rather rhythm, of “Shots.” My foot inadvertently taps to the chanting of “Butts,” but I’m less entranced by the Top-40 pop of yore than the pulsating kick drum that accompanies every tune. It’s the heart of the club, the bringer of life. The same thump that I had felt under 15th Street as I made my way on foot to the multiplex.

“I remember being shocked by the sheer breadth of it—the multiple rooms, multiple DJs, and endless bars,” says Homorazzi blogger, Nic Opp, who reviewed The Max last year. “I think in the gay communities across North America, we’re more used to seeing the traditional dive bar that we have all mostly grown so fond of. In major cities, you see the bigger spaces as expected, but it was completely unexpected of Omaha as an outsider.”

I retreat to a room called the Arena, which radiates the sensation of slow motion, especially after experiencing the disco hall. Here, the contrast of bright and dark dissolves to an ocher dim. Hip-hop plays at half-volume and half-speed, and a small, esoteric cult pantomimes carnal rhythms on the showroom stage. I’m a convert, but only in spirit, for I’ve found a comfortable spot at the bar. Oh, and more importantly I’ve found God, or a real-life bartender that acknowledges I exist.

This, of course, is not an indictment on the club’s service, but a testament to the capacity they host. And what with the wild pack of rum-thirsty bros roaming the facility at all hours, it’s amazing that anyone gets a drink at all. But The Max gives us all the sort of room we need to find relief from our working lives, whether it be in the main floor lounge, the upstairs billiards lounge, the outdoor garden, the disco hall or the Arena.

“It’s unlike any other environment in Omaha,” says Mike Mogler, who isn’t afraid to take his shirt down a few buttons and leave it all on the dance floor. “It’s a place to be yourself and have as much fun as possible. It’s also the best place to dance in Nebraska!”

Opera Omaha Guild

February 25, 2013 by
Photography by Bill Sitzmann

In 1958, a volunteer organization called the Omaha Civic Opera Society took the stage, creating and fostering an opera-loving community in Omaha. After tremendous support, the organization became fully professional in 1970, making Opera Omaha the only professional opera company in Nebraska. As Opera Omaha has expanded its seasons of mainstage productions and increased musical events throughout the community, the company has found constant encouragement in the dedicated, fully volunteer-based Opera Omaha Guild, originally called Omaha Angels when it began in 1967.

The Guild stands behind Opera Omaha each year, raising funds to support its productions, creating outreach opportunities, and educating the community about opera through memberships and events.

“Omaha has a strong fine arts community, and it is so very important that opera continues to play a prominent role,” says Jillian Tuck, current president of the Opera Omaha Guild.

Tuck moved back to Omaha from Fort Worth, Texas, a few years ago and found that she wanted to support the arts in her former community. “I had been involved with a Fort Worth Opera volunteer group, so I decided to seek a similar opportunity here in Omaha.” Luckily for Tuck, the Opera Omaha Guild had just what she was looking for—a passion for opera and activities and social events that were accessible.

“Omaha has a strong fine arts community, and it is so very important that opera continues to play a prominent role.” – Jillian Tuck, president of Opera Omaha Guild

As president of the Guild, Tuck presides over the Guild meetings, appoints committee chairpersons, and serves as an ex-officio member of all Guild committees. “The Opera Omaha Guild is a working board with committee chairs and volunteers bringing the effort, organization, and energy behind all of the events. They are the reason for our success.”

Tuck loves opera and says that being in the Guild has allowed her to share that love with other people every day. Recently, she had the opportunity to talk about her passion at the Guild’s Cotillion graduation dinner. The Cotillion—French for “formal ball”—is one of the Guild’s fundraisers and provides the opportunity for Omaha sixth-graders to learn the art of formal dining, mature communication, and ballroom dancing through several classes and a final graduation dance.

Because the Cotillion supports Opera Omaha, Tuck knew she could reach out to a younger generation about opera. “Speaking to adults about opera can be challenging because they often have preconceived notions, [but] speaking to 300+ sixth-graders and their parents was something I found inspirational.” In her five-minute speech, Tuck felt she was able to open the door to an art that most of the children had never experienced. “I believe that opera truly is for everyone to enjoy throughout a lifetime, and creating young opera fans through the sharing of my own love for opera is something I will always cherish.”

Funnily enough, it was the Cotillion that got President-elect Lisa Hagstrom involved with the Guild. “I was in the first Cotillion class that Opera Omaha conducted in 1985,” she explains. “I had been looking for volunteer opportunities within the arts community and had attended a couple fundraising events for Opera Omaha. [Since then], I have been involved with the Guild as a board member for 10 or 11 years.”

“The great thing is that nearly 100 percent of all money raised [at Spirits of the Opera] goes back to Opera Omaha.” – Lisa Hagstrom, president-elect of Opera Omaha Guild

Hagstrom helps with several of the Guild’s events, including the Cotillion; the annual Opera Omaha Gala, which was held in February this year to celebrate the partnership of Opera Omaha and artist Jun Kaneko for the production The Magic Flute, one of Mozart’s most famous operas; and the currently on-hiatus Burgers & Bordeaux chef competition event.

The Guild’s most notable event, however, is the award-winning Spirits of the Opera fundraiser, which replaced an event called Wine Seller. “Wine tastings became a very popular fundraising idea for many groups, so we thought a cocktail tasting would be something different,” explains Hagstrom. “The first year of [Spirits of the Opera], we matched cocktails with operas, and attendees tasted eight different cocktails. It was a fun event, but it was lacking ‘something,’ and we just didn’t know what that was.”

Fortunately, the president of the executive board for Opera Omaha at that time, Jim Winner, found exactly what that “something” was while he was eating at Dixie Quicks, a Southern comfort food restaurant in Council Bluffs. One of the well-known Dixie Quicks servers, Bruce “Buffy” Bufkin, suggested to Winner that the Guild include a drag show as entertainment at the event.

Today, Spirits of the Opera is a drag show set to opera with the performers singing popular arias and other opera selections of their choice. The event is held at local hot-spot The Max, which is known as the best gay dance club in Omaha. The Max donates its space for the event, and all of the performers donate their time and talents. “It is an amazing experience,” says Tuck. “It blends the classical arias of well-known operas with some of the region’s most talented female impersonators.” In addition to the drag show, the event has the themed cocktails, silent and live auction opportunities, a raffle, and food from local restaurants, including Dixie Quicks.

Drag performers from the 2012 Spirits of the Opera event.

Drag performers from the 2012 Spirits of the Opera event.

“The great thing is that nearly 100 percent of all money raised goes back to Opera Omaha,” adds Hagstrom, who went out to Philadelphia last June to receive the Most Unique Fundraising Event award for Spirits of the Opera, presented by Opera Volunteers International.

As the Guild looks forward to this year’s Spirits of the Opera in May and further into 2013, Tuck says their goals remain the same. “[We just want] to support Opera Omaha and provide opportunities to educate the community about the importance and joy of opera.”

This year’s Spirits of the Opera will be held May 4 at The Max (1417 Jackson St.). For more information about the event or about the Opera Omaha Guild, visit operaomaha.org or call 402-346-7372.