The Weekender: Memphis, DJ Skate Night and six other items on our to-do list

The Weekender: Memphis, DJ Skate Night and six other items on our to-do list

The Weekender: Slow Food Toronto, DJ Skate Night and Memphis  

1. DJ SKATE NIGHT (FREE!)
We’re more into huddling by a fire with hot chocolate than actually skating (is there such a thing as après-skate? Because that would be more our speed), but even we’re excited to take a spin around the Harbourfront Centre’s lakeside rink to the sounds of Rihanna, Drake and Jully Black, thanks to DJs from Flow 93.5. If “We Found Love” isn’t really your jam, never fear: upcoming nights will focus on house, funk and reggae. Saturdays, Dec. 10 to Feb. 18 (except Christmas and New Year’s Eve). Harbourfront Centre, 235 Queens Quay W., 416-973-4000, harbourfrontcentre.com.

2. MEMPHIS
The ’50s may not have the same progressive history as the ’60s, but they had their share of cultural milestones: from technological (hello, Sputnik) to cultural (hello, Elvis Presley). This Tony-winning musical, set in Memphis, Tennessee, follows a white radio DJ and a black club singer who are caught up in the evolving rock ’n’ roll music scene—and each other. To Dec. 24. $51–$180. Toronto Centre for the Arts, 5040 Yonge St., 416-644-3665, dancaptickets.com.

3. CHRISTMAS IN THE PARK
Kids and grown-ups alike will get caught up in the holiday magic at these historically accurate festivities, like attending a Christmas centerpiece–making workshop (pre-registration required) or playing with old Victorian toys (artifacts and reproductions). Mulled cider and almond and candy-peel shortbread are on offer, and we wouldn’t miss a chance to explore Colborne Lodge, which is decked out with a Victorian Christmas tree (a reproduction of the first Christmas tree of Queen Victoria, who popularized the reigning tradition of erecting trees to celebrate the holidays). To Jan. 8. $3–$6. Colborne Lodge, High Park, 416-392-6916, toronto.ca/museums.

4. SMALL PRESS OF TORONTO WINTER BOOK FAIR (FREE!)
If your Christmukkah list is heavy on the book lovers, this annual fair is as close to one-stop shopping as you can get. Pick up small-press zines, comics, children’s books, magazines and novels, and meet some literary types. Dec. 10. Hart House, University of Toronto, 7 Hart House Cir., smallpressoftoronto.wordpress.com.

5. SPANISH HARLEM ORCHESTRA: A SALSA CHRISTMAS
This Grammy-winning 13-piece ensemble, led by pianist Oscar Hernández, is a jazz festival fave, but this time it’s bringing some high-energy Latin flavour to traditional Christmas tunes. Dec. 9. $39–$78.50. Koerner Hall, Royal Conservatory of Music, 273 Bloor St. W., 416-408-0208, rcmusic.ca.

6. JACOB AND NOVA
We’re excited about this mixed-bill dance program, which features new choreography from two very different talents, both making their Dancemakers debuts. Director, performer and dance dramaturge Jacob Zimmer explores rebellion, freedom and death via 1970s chart toppers, while Nova Bhattacharya’s piece is her signature contemporary take on classical Indian dance, this time set in an “abstract physical world.” To Dec. 18. $25. Dancemakers and the Centre for Creation, The Cannery, 55 Mill St., Bldg. 58, Studio 313, 416-367-1800, dancemakers.org.

7. SLOW FOOD TORONTO’S TERRA MADRE DAY 2011 (FREE!)
It’s easy to forget about eating local when the days are short—it’s always dark, and all the produce seems to hail from somewhere over the ocean. But this locavore foodie event celebrates a global movement that reminds us to choose local whenever possible—and that it’s always possible, even in the depths of winter. Mingle with Ontario producers (farmers, butchers, fishmongers), snack on the copious samples at the many food demonstrations and workshops, and even check out some entertainment, like storytelling, dance and live music. Dec. 10. Harbourfront Centre, 235 Queens Quay W., 416-973-4000, harbourfrontcentre.com.

8. 102.1 THE EDGE JINGLE BELL ROCK
This concert series, organized annually by 102.1 The Edge, is equal parts rocking out and doing good: $1 from every ticket sold goes to the Daily Bread Food Bank, and non-perishable food items are collected at each show. This Friday, K-os and Bedouin Soundclash take the stage at the Sound Academy, while Rolling Stone cover boys The Sheepdogs are at Lee’s Palace. Those checking out K-os and Bedouin Soundclash on Friday can see a repeat Sheepdogs performance at Lee’s on Saturday. To Dec. 15. $15–$32.50. Sound Academy, 11 Polson St.; Lee’s Palace, 529 Bloor St. W., 416-870-8000, ticketmaster.ca.

Images: Cheese and crackers, courtesy of Slow Food Toronto; Skating, Marjolein; Memphis, poster)