From dancing in the street to paint boxing, there’s something for everyone
As the seasons change, the city of Dayton changes. Every fall and spring the Downtown Dayton Partnership showcases the culture of the city – restaurants, local music, art, retail, urban living – in a wildly eye-opening street party, Urban Nights. This year, the event kicks off Friday, Sept. 20 at 5 p.m. in downtown Dayton, the Oregon District and the Wright-Dunbar Business Village.
“We are told that this is the best night of the year,” said Krystal Luketic, Downtown Dayton Partnership’s special events coordinator. “It showcases what’s downtown 365 days a year.”
In the past 11 years since Urban Nights began as a simple art hop, it has shown itself to be incredibly successful.
“For what started as an art walk has now become an event for all of our businesses,” Luketic said. “The streets get packed – literally packed.”
Last spring, the structure of Urban Nights got a makeover and broke the evening up into celebrating the three major parts of the city with three main “hotspots”: International Street, Live on Five and Arts Corner.
Sponsored by Miller-Valentine Group, International Street will be located on Second Street and will feature different food from a number of cultures, a beer truck loaded with import brews and seven dance troupe performances on the “Dancing in the Street” stage. Live on Five, sponsored by Miami-Jacobs Career College and WYSO 91.3 FM, will feature a draft beer truck and live music and performances, including a fashion show by Brim and Sew Dayton right before the heading act, Meghna & the Majority, located on the corner of Fifth Street and Pine Street in the Oregon District.
The third hotspot, Arts Corner sponsored by Sinclair Community College and DP&L and located between St. Clair Street and Patterson Boulevard, includes the most unique art feature to date. Not only will a range of entertainment like live music, henna art and special sales by nearby businesses and a performance of “Spamalot” by Sinclair’s music and theater department be offered, this year a paint boxing event holds true to the Arts Corner’s motto, “Walk on the creative side.”
Hosted by CADC Art Gallery and Drake’s Gym, boxing demonstrations will be performed in the street, followed by a truly artistic battle – man versus canvas. Boxers will dip their gloves in paint, then jab canvases. Afterwards, public participation will be offered to those interested in creating their own splatter art on canvases and T-shirts.
“Paint boxing is a family-friendly activity that can draw people downtown to do something with their kids,” Luketic said.
Downtown’s urban living spaces, eclectic art galleries, restaurants, nightlife and retail shops are just a snippet of the culture that pulsates through Dayton. Other events promote aspects like outdoor activities, service groups and local cuisine at places around the city like the Courthouse Square, KeyBank tower and Riverscape MetroPark.
Urban Nights is an event to draw people to the gems of Dayton, but to also give businesses a chance to shine. Two businesses are taking advantage of the street party and sporting “soft openings” just for Urban Nights before fully opening later in the year.
Retail spice and food store Spice Paradise is located in the Oregon District on Brown Street and features products from around the world. Spice Paradise’s products range from chutneys, pickles, chocolates and easy-to-cook meals to go.
The other business testing the Dayton waters at Urban Nights is Hicks’ Barber Shop, a traditional barbershop and shave parlor owned by “The Bearded Barber,” James Hicks. Located next to Spice Paradise on Brown Street, in the space formerly occupied by Sew Dayton, Hicks specializes in razor fading and sells his signature beard oil.
Luketic said that Urban Nights takes steps towards downtown revitalization by being one of the biggest economic draws for downtown businesses.
“A lot of them will tell us that it’s one of their best nights all year,” she said. “Most of the restaurants will not only have a wait, but will have to stop taking people because they are so full. It’s a good problem to have.”
It’s your city – take a “walk on the creative side” of Dayton at Urban Nights.
“Yes, there are things to do during Urban Nights, but these businesses are here year-round,” Luketic said. “If you don’t have a chance to get around to do something at Urban Nights, you can come back any day of the year.”
Urban Nights takes place Friday, Sept. 20 in downtown Dayton, the Oregon District and the Wright-Dunbar Business Village. For a complete list of events and participating businesses, please visit downtowndayton.org.
Reach DCP freelance writer C.C. Hutten at CCHutten@DaytonCityPaper.com.