Nobody really wants to talk about it, but by the time a punk hits 30, PBR, the Beast and even the ever-reliable Hamm's have all lost their appeal. Nobody wants to wash down prime rib (your vegan militancy is the first thing to go) with a watery beer. Once you have some pups runnin' around the house (and a mortgage bigger and more painful than the 'roid on your rump), you crave something more potent when it's time to drown your sorrows. If you're ready to make the jump to wine (the beverage that heralds maturity), the folks at Whole Foods (1601 South Brentwood Boulevard, call 314-968-7744 for reservations) are ready to ease you through the transition. Their Wine on Wednesday class (6:30 to 8 p.m.) teaches you everything you need to know about choosing the right wine for the meal. And at only $10 per session, you'll have money left over for a sixer of Stag.
Thursday, February 19
If, during the late '70s, you would have proposed the idea that a John Waters movie would one day become a hit Broadway musical, people would have slowly backed away from you with the sort of tense grin normally reserved for pantsless men who wander into Red Lobsters. And yet damned if Hairspray!, a musical adapted from the Waters film of the same name, isn't scheduled to play at the Fox in March. Starring a husky Ricki Lake (pre-talk show makeover) as a Baltimore teen caught up in the '60s dance-show craze, Hairspray reveals a more tender, less gross-out side of John Waters. To celebrate the impending arrival of this surreal development (we would have picked Female Trouble as the best bet for Broadway adaptation), Hairspray the film is screening, for free, at 7 p.m. in Webster University's Moore Auditorium (470 East Lockwood Avenue, 314-968-7487). One lucky attendee will win free tickets to the opening-night performance of the musical version at the Fox. It's positively Divine!
Friday, February 20
If you've been interested in taking a sip from the deep well of talent that comprises the local dance community but have been unsure where to turn, The University of Missouri-St. Louis Faculty and Friends Dance Concert at the Touhill Performing Arts Center (8001 Natural Bridge Road, 314-516-4949) is an outstanding first taste. Alicia Okouchi-Guy, associate professor of dance at UM-St. Louis, will present new works and slightly revamped older pieces, as performed by students and guest dancers. Dawn Karlovsky, formerly of the Gash Voight Dance Theater (and currently with AnnonyArts), and local choreographers Mary Ann Rund and David Marchant will be presenting new pieces; Atrek Dance Collective members Betsy Brandt, Stacy Jacob and Mary Mazzello will also be dancing. This performance marks the first UM-St. Louis dance department-sponsored concert, and with performances at 8 p.m. on both Friday, February 20, and Saturday, February 21, and tickets set at just $5 to $10, there's really no reason why you can't attend. So go already.
Saturday, February 21
If you are fortunate enough to have basic cable and the Outdoor Life Network, you are no doubt familiar with the taciturn men of the Professional Bull Riders Cup circuit. These brave (or foolhardy) cowboys strut their stuff at the Savvis Center (1401 Clark Avenue, 314-241-1888; $15 to $100) at 8 p.m. on both Friday, February 20, and Saturday, February 21. If you're unfamiliar with the sport, prepare to be amazed by this uniquely American spectacle. What other country could produce men bold enough to strap themselves onto the back of a one-ton hamburger, on the off chance they'll be able to hold on (one-handed, mind you) for eight seconds? Spaniards have to kill 'em, while Americans are confident enough to just walk away from the beasts after they've showed 'em who's boss. And you haven't lived until you've felt the red, white and blue surge of pride that comes from watching a man get stomped by a monster bull, only to see the fella get up afterward and return for the next round. Pure brass ones on these men.
Sunday, February 22
If you love rock & roll, the DJ is your mortal enemy. Record-collecting geeks who suffer from rock-star complexes don't sit real well with guitar-slinging geeks who suffer from rock-star complexes. But DJ spins are a fact of modern life, and so the Creepy Crawl (412 North Tucker Boulevard, 314-851-0919) has entered the fray with its own unique take on the matter. The Dream Warriors, the Creepy's house DJs on Sunday nights, spin only the best in hair metal, real metal and punk. Not that this makes them any cooler (they are named after a Dokken song, after all); it just means you won't hear any of those damn disco whistles, or worse, a Technotronic song. There's no cover charge, and the entertainment lasts from 11 p.m. to 3 a.m.
Monday, February 23
The organizers of Washington University's Center for the Humanities reading series have a great hook to bring people in; they've named the series The Smart Set, so if you consider yourself smart, you have to go. This month's guest speaker is Helie Lee, author of Still Life with Rice and, more recently, In the Absence of Sun. While both of these books chronicle the poignant realities of being a Korean-American with relatives still trapped in North Korea, Ms. Lee is by no means a downer. She has worked for television shows such as The Martin Lawrence Show and Saved by the Bell, so you know she probably has some good Screech stories to share. Save your SBTB questions for the post-reading reception; you don't want to tip your hand too early that you're not actually a member of the Smart Set. Ms. Lee reads at 8 p.m. in Anheuser-Busch Hall, Room 204, on the campus of Washington University (Skinker and Forsyth boulevards, 314-935-5576). Both the reading and reception are free.
Tuesday, February 24
Procrastinators, this is your absolute last chance to get in on the 2004 Mardi Gras festivities. At 6:30 p.m., in the Schlafly Tap Room's parking lot (Locust and 21st streets), the 50 best floats from Saturday's parade will embark on a nighttime procession through the loft district on their way to Laclede's Landing (Washington Avenue and Fourth Street), under the aegis of the Fat Tuesday Parade. At midnight, it's all over; Ash Wednesday arrives, signaling the beginning of Lent and the end of the debauchery (unless you're a non-Catholic, in which case you can wake up the next morning and drink till your boss slaps the bottle out of your hand). Between 6:30 p.m. and midnight, though, the partying should be at a fever pitch. The parade is free, but bring cash; the Mardi Gras Party Zones (map available at www.mardigrasinc.com) will be serving all legal drinkers until the stroke of midnight, and you don't want to be left out.