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A free Friday night at Fringe

Our writer spends hours—but not a dime—at opening night

Last night was my first time down at the First Niagara Rochester Fringe Festival and I decided to wing it.

I figured I’d walk around, wander into some shows, and eat food truck treats. I was with friends who didn’t have tickets to shows, so while I knew there was plenty of great free stuff, I figured I wouldn’t really see the ‘best of the best.’ 

I can now definitively say, the Fringe is an awesome experience, even if you don’t spend a dime.

As soon as we entered the venue we were offered samples of Mü, a Kahlua-like creamy coffee drink made from flavorless wine. You wouldn’t want to get buzzed off Mü, but the taste might be enough that you won’t feel the need to buy a beer (if you do though, they’re selling Dundee Oktoberfest, which is a true unsung hero in the world of October-y beers).

In Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Park, we watched teasers of upcoming shows, like the twirling dancers of Merged II (Sept. 20 and 21) and the twangy bagpipes of the Fedeán Òr Pipe Band (Sept. 27) and grabbed some oversized sunglasses and wigs to add a photo to the My Thing installation. 

With so many street performers walking around the carnival atmosphere, I was plenty satisfied, not realizing Circus Orange was about to change the park into a creepy, fiery dream sequence. Rolling through the park on an 18-foot tricycle, a group of performers and acrobats unleashed a crazy display of pyrotechnics and weirdness. It was truly spectacular (and incredibly, also free).

Heading back towards the Spiegelgarden, we wandered across a group of Cubano drummers singing Buena Vista Social Club-style outside of Java’s. Maybe guys like this are out every weekend, but I forget how awesome downtown Rochester can be until I have a reason—like Fringe—to visit.

We ended our night outside the Spiegelgarden, where FuturePoint Dance and Carrie Mateosian put on Unbridled. We walked up to see a gorgeous woman covered in sand art sensuously moving for a photographer. It legitimately looked like we were on the set of America’s Next Top Model. Really, Unbridled is a performance combining movement, body art, and photography. The audience gets to watch the photo shoot, while the images are projected onto a screen. After a while, a chiseled man joined the female dancer (the chance to lube him up with Vaseline, pre-sanding, was auctioned off and won for $20 by a husband for his wife).

You, too, could have the chance when the show repeats Sept. 26—27. 

Follow Danielle’s live tweets from Fringe: @daniellepreiss

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