Gothamist Spring Guide: 16 Magnificent Things To Do This May

<a href="">John Fullard / Flickr</a><br/><br/>We're staring down the barrel of another sticky New York summer, but before you begin work on that altar to your window A.C. unit, get outside and take advantage of the beautiful spring air. May is loaded with outdoor food festivals, beer celebrations, and can't-miss dance nights that will keep you bumping into the early morning hours (which you can survive now because it's not 20 damn degrees!). Here's our guide to making the most of the coming month. Break out your calendar and make some plans!

<br/><br/>Is there anywhere on earth as culturally and culinarily rich as Queens? Maybe, but the 7 train probably doesn't go there. Early this month, <strong><a href="">Queens Taste 2017</a></strong> will showcase the best food and beverages available throughout the borough, with samples of La Adelita's Mexican chalupas, Sabor de Cuba’s shredded beef with plantains and so much more. Local distilleries like Queens Courage will provide the spirits, and look out for espresso-filled treats from Ridgewood favorite Rudy's Bakery. Tickets for the all-you-can-drink-and-eat extravaganza run $125, with all proceeds going to the Queens Economic Development Corporation's ongoing effort to bring new jobs into the borough. <em>(Jake Offenhartz)</em><br/><br/><em>Tuesday, May 2nd, 6 p.m. - 9 p.m. // <a href="">New York Hall of Science</a>, 47-01 111th Street, Queens // <a href="">Tickets $125</a></em>

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<br/><br/>Art-lovers, you're going to need to clear you schedules for the foreseeable future and give the <strong><a href="">bevy of new exhibits at the New Museum</a></strong> your full attention. The Bowery fixture is debuting four new shows in early May, with each one bending the rules of social physical convention. Take <em>RAGGA NYC</em>, a collective exhibition organized by Christopher Udemezue that showcases queer Caribbean artists who work in visual art, fashion, and poetry. Through sculpture, painting, sewn garments, and written texts, <em>RAGGA NYC</em> addresses the convoluted lineages of race, sexuality, gender, and heritage that stretch from the Caribbean to the five boroughs and back. Also opening is California artist Kaari Upson's first local exhibition, which features drawings, paintings, sculptures, and video works that highlight the marginalized lives (and deaths) of indigent Americans.<br/><br/><em>Exhibitions open Wednesday, May 3rd and run through September // <a href="">New Museum</a>, 235 Bowery, Manhattan // Tickets $ </em>

Aluminum-casted soda cans by artist Kaari Upson (via Facebook)

<br/><br/>The future of R&amp;B sounds a lot like <a href="">NAO</a>, the East London singer-songwriter who's going to get played at every rooftop party this summer (or at least ought to be). Seizing on the wispy textures of FKA Twigs and injecting them with a little extra sunlight, NAO's music is both ambitious and reassuring; it's tasteful, introverted funk right in step with Solange and, yes, Frank Ocean. She'll <strong><a href="">play the newly-opened Brooklyn Steel this month</a></strong> in support of last year's For All We Know, a record that highlights her phenomenal vocal range. She's not <a href="">an interactive robot</a>. She's something much more human.<br/><br/><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="360" src="" width="640"></iframe><br/><br/><em>Friday, May 5th, 7 p.m. // Brooklyn Steel, 319 Frost Street, Brooklyn // <a href="">Tickets $27.50</a></em>

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<br/><br/>The team that brought us the immersive <em><a href="">Sleep No More</a></em> spectacle is throwing a sultry spring-themed party. <a href="">The McKittrick Hotel Masquerade</a> will encourage you to don a costume and enjoy a night of zesty anonymity that includes dancing, ample libations, and plenty of dark corners where who knows what might happen. Count on live performers both on stage and floating above the crowd, DJs who know exactly how to set the mood, and some of the most impressive party decorations New York has to offer. Then again, the star attraction is going to be you, the guests, so dress to impress and don't forget a mask (they're mandatory).<br/><br/><em>Saturday, May 6th, 10:15 p.m. // The McKittrick Hotel, 530 West 27th Street, Manhattan // <a href="">Tickets $50 and up</a></em>

<br/><br/>Put on your sunglasses and dance. It's not often that a wedding singer from northeastern Syria hits the big time, but that's what happened to Omar Souleyman, a 51-year-old bandleader Ra's al-'Ayn. He'll be <strong><a href="">bringing his infectious brand of middle eastern electro to Le Poisson Rouge this month</a></strong> in support of his upcoming album <em>To Syria, With Love</em>, which arrives on June 2nd. A frequent collaborator with producers like Four Tet and Modselektor, Souleyman sings verses of love and positivity over breakneck synth mizmar melodies. You can get an earful here, but the man's live show is really where the action is. Souleyman has already released over 500 live albums and is a beloved fixture on the European and American festival circuits. This show's almost certainly going to be unlike any you've ever seen.<br/><br/><em>Thursday, May 11th, 7 p.m. // <a href="">Le Poisson Rouge</a>, 158 Bleecker Street, Manhattan // <a href="">Tickets $30</a></em>

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<br/><br/>Choosing from a seemingly infinite list of summer drinking events may be a nice problem to have, but navigating New York's jam-packed lineup of beer fests can be a headache worse than your last hangover. For the discerning drinker, Brooklyn's <strong><a href="">Five Boro Craft Beer Fest</a></strong> should certainly fall near the top of the list. The all-you-can-drink event offers two-ounce pours from over 100 small-batch beers made in local breweries, including Brooklyn Cider House, Bronx Brewery, and Grimm Artisanal Ales. Live music rounds out the evening, with songs from Okra and Rusty Cannons blasting from the Well's sprawling patio. <em>(Jake Offenhartz)</em><br/><br/><em>Friday, May 12, 6:30 p.m. // <a href="">The Well</a>, 272 Meserole Street, Brooklyn // <a href="">Tickets $70 early bird, $85 GA</a></em>

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<br/><br/>Would it kill you to log off, close your computer, and get outside for a change? Explore a gorgeous side of the city that few venture to at the <strong><a href="">Bronx River Flotilla</a></strong>, a five-mile canoe trip down the borough's eponymous waterway. The trip will take paddlers from the New York Botanical Gardens to the Bronx Zoo and through the more urbanized portions of the river's path. If you go, you'll get to enjoy a serene day out on the water, and you'll also be helping to raise money for the Bronx River Alliance's summer youth program, which help get local kids involved with their urban environment (and familiar with canoes). The whole day will be topped off with a party at Hunts Point Riverside Park that's open to the public, and if you can't make it but still want to support kids exploring nature, <a href="">donate here</a>.<br/><br/><em>Saturday, May 13th,9:30 a.m. // Bronx River at 219th Street and Bronx Boulevard, the Bronx // <a href="">More info here</a></em>

<br/><br/>If your soy and seitan needs a safe space, you'll find it at the <strong><a href="">NYC Vegeterian Food Festival</a></strong>. This two-day meatless party will feature some of the very best vegetarian chefs and dishes from all across the city, along with food critics, cooking demonstrations, and so, so many merchandise booths. Whether you're looking for tips for heart-healthy eating, veganism as a path to physical fitness, an illuminating discussion of America's factory farming industries, or just a few bites of delicious pierogi and veggie burger, this weekend is all about loving animals and mercilessly feasting upon delicious dead plants. <br/><br/><em>Saturday and Sunday, May 20-21st, 11 a.m. - 6 p.m. // Metropolitan Pavilion, 125 West 18th Street // <a href="">Tickets $30 and up</a></em>

<br/><br/>DJ/producer acts like Kaytranada, Ta-ku, Four Tet, Knxwledge and even Disclosure have helped revitalize the modern era's dance scene and bring it out of its dark-rave-wannabe drudgery. Genres are much more fluid now, and on a night out in Brooklyn you're as likely hear breezy yacht rock-inspired funk as you are deep house. <strong><a href="">Pomo</a></strong> sits at the center of this new equilibrium and has been steadily rising to prominence thanks to a string of gorgeous remixes and his debut EP <em>The Other Day</em>. It's rare that the Vancouver-based producer and record selector tours the East Coast, but <a href="">he'll touch down at Mercury Lounge for a late night set</a> near the end of the month. It's going to be a vivrant thing.<br/><br/><em>Saturday, May 20th, 10:30 p.m. // <a href="">Mercury Lounge</a>, 217 E Houston Street, Manhattan // <a href="">Tickets $15</a></em>

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<br/><br/>In his art, Robert Rauschenberg opted for an inclusive, everyman approach that used simple, inexpensive materials to foster a collaborative space between dancers, musicians, writers, and visual artists. That openness and dedication to collaborative wonder is at the heart of Among Friends, his new<strong><a href=""> large-scale exhibition at MoMA</a></strong>. It'll be the first retrospective of Rauschenberg's work this century, and spans across sixty year of sculpture, paintings, photographs, sound, and video recordings. MoMA has worked with artist and filmmaker Charlie Atlas to incorporate live dance performance into the museum's space, and additional works from the likes of John Cage, Merce Cunninghanm, Sari Dienes, and Susan Weil will be rotated in and out of the exhibition as well. <br/><br/><em>Exhibit opens Sunday, May 21st // MoMA, 11 W 53rd Street, Manhattan // <a href="">Admission $10 and up</a></em>

<br/><br/>One of New York's oldest and largest gastro-events, the <strong><a href="">9th Avenue International Food Festival</a></strong> will soon transform Hell’s Kitchen into foodie paradise for two full days. Neighborhood favorites like Bar Bacon, Empanada Mama, and OBAO will anchor the food portion, with craft beer served up by Jolly Monk and frito pies handed out by the very kind gentlemen of Flaming Saddles. You'll have plenty of room to walk off some of those calories, as the fest stretches from 42nd up to 57th Street, with a stage up at 55th for live events happening all weekend long. Word-to-the-wise: Last year's event featured tons of free samples, but don’t forget to support your local merchants! <em>(Jake Offenhartz) </em><br/><br/><em>Saturday and Sunday, May 20th and 21st, 10 a.m. - 6 p.m. // 9th Avenue, 42nd Street to 57th Street // <a href="">FREE</a></em>

<br/><br/>A calm, understated, yet awesome power will be on display during the Museum of the City of New York's new <strong><a href="">AIDS At Home: Art and Everyday Activism</a></strong> show. The exhibit offers an intimate look at how those committed to battling the disease frequently worked as caregivers, artists, community organizers and, very often, loving friends as the city dealt with the AIDS crisis that began in the early 80s. Film works, paintings, and photos will stand beside memorable objects and literature from the movement, serving as a guide for any modern day resistance that aims to protect the marginalized as it pushes back on the powerful. Artists included in the show are David Wojnarowicz, Nan Goldin, Kia Labeija, Hunter Reynolds, Hugh Steers, Luna Luis Ortiz, Lori Grinker, Avram Finkelstein, Susan Kuklin, L.J. Roberts, and Chloe Dzubilo.<br/><br/><em>Opens Tuesday, May 23rd // MCNY, 1220 5th Avenue, Manhattan // <a href="">Tickets $12-18</a></em>

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<br/><br/>BAM is giving a platform to some of the best artists working across Africa this month, through the coinciding <strong><a href="">FilmAfrica</a></strong> and <strong><a href="">DanceAfrica</a></strong> series. The former features a strong emphasis on Guinea, and includes can't miss features including <em><a href="">Clouds Over Conakry</a></em>, <em><a href="">Paris According To Moussa</a></em>, and <em><a href="">Le Ballon d'Or</a></em>, a joyful portrait of a young boy leaving the countryside to chase his dreams of soccer stardom. DanceAfrica will feature hip-hop performers from Philadelphia's Illstyle and Peace Productions, along with local crew Forces of Nature and the drummers and dancers of Asase Yaa. Styles, songs, and time periods will collide in these performances, which run for four days straight at the end of the month.<br/><br/><em><a href="">FilmAfrica</a> and <a href="">DanceAfrica</a> both run Friday-Monday, May 26-29th; Showtimes Vary // BAM Peter Jay Sharp Building and Howard Gilman Opera House, 30 Lafayette Avenue, Brooklyn // <a href="">Film Tickets Here</a> // <a href="">Dance Tickets Here</a></em>

<br/><br/>Ahead of its June premiere on Amazon, the eagerly-anticipated Grateful Dead doc <em><strong><a href="">A Long Strange Trip</a></strong></em> gets a special release this month at select theaters in New York and Los Angeles. One of those is IFC, and if the Sundance reviews are any indication, it's well worth the $25 price of admission. Directed by Amir Bar-Lev and produced by Martin Scorsese, the documentary boasts never-before-seen footage, rare interviews, and a soundtrack sure to noodle the heartstrings of any jam band fan. And non-Dead Heads shouldn’t feel intimidated either; the early critical buzz indicates that it's accessible for all levels of fandom. <em>(Jake Offenhartz)</em><br/><br/><em>Thursday, May 25th, 7 p.m. //<a href=""> IFC Theatre</a>, 323 6th Avenue // <a href="">Tickets $25</a></em>

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<br/><br/>It gets no funkier than <strong><a href="">The Rub</a></strong>. For nearly 15 years, the monthly dance night has been keeping Brooklyn up dancing (or just leaning back and enjoying the vibe) until the wee hours of the morning, and we can't think of a better way to kick off summer. Boogie down to timeless productions from the 70s to the 90s to today as revolving corps of DJs works to satisfy your every need. Record-collecting and hip-hop remixing are cornerstones of The Rub, and if you pay a little attention to the booth you'll glimpse DJs carefully concentrating as they try to one up each other. This is a good thing, after all: when vinyl junkies compete, we all win.<br/><br/><em>Saturday, May 27th, 10 p.m. // <a href="">The Bell House</a>, 149 7th Street, Brooklyn // <a href="">Tickets $10-15 at the door</a></em>

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<br/><br/>Back in New York City once again, <strong><a href="">Red Bull Music Academy </a></strong>will be blurring the lines between festival, lecture tour, and citywide DJ invasion. All month long (things actually kicked off late in April), venues around the city will be transformed into audaciously-branded parties, with performing guests of honor like Solange, Gucci Mane, and Werner Herzog because why the hell not. RBMA always ends up a feeding frenzy of music journalists, bloggers, and hypebeast fashion lords, but the everyday fan will still find plenty to enjoy. Just don't get overwhelmed by the calendar and whatever you do, don't show up late to the lines.<br/><br/><em>Events run through Sunday, May 21st //<a href=""> Showtimes here</a> // Venues Vary // <a href="">Ticket info here</a></em>