Best of 2011: Going Out

Dance Club

Wildcat Lounge

15 W. Ortega St., 962-7970

 “To win Best Dance Club again is really pretty flattering,” emailed Bob Stout, owner of the famed club on the once-dull downtown side street. “For a town our size, I think Santa Barbara has a real good collection of bars and clubs, from bigger clubs like EOS and Tonic to the smaller places like Reds, Milk & Honey, and others. This year’s been crazy and special. Having Katy Perry blow us up at the Bowl and then showing up afterward was pretty hard to beat. Perez Hilton one night on the patio, wondering what the hell he was gonna blog the next day … Esquire shooting Jeff Bridges at the club for its May cover story even though they only showed a few red and black tiles … our Locals’  Fiesta Parade Party getting bigger every year … our end-of-summer staff party on the rooftop at the Canary … real good times, I’m a lucky guy!”


EOS Lounge

Place to Hear Live Music

SOhO Restaurant & Music Club

1221 State St., Suite 205, 962-7776

There are a million reasons to love this place with its red brick walls, high ceilings, nice bar, and, particularly, because Allan Brown does the sound there. But just in case you need more specific reasons drawn just from this last year: Chris Robinson Brotherhood, Foster the People, Gardens & Villa, Grace Potter and the Nocturnals, Sleigh Bells, Charles Bradley, The Joy Formidable, Fitz and The Tantrums, The Morning Benders, Dengue Fever, Delta Spirits, Local Natives, Sean Hayes, and Blind Pilot.


Santa Barbara Bowl

Sullivan Goss, An American Gallery
Paul Wellman


Sullivan Goss — An American Gallery

7 E. Anapumu St., 730-1460

Put aside the fact that we enjoy immensely chatting up Frank Goss anywhere we meet him, and forget about how cool the space he’s maintained for the last decade and a half is, wedged, as it were, in an apex of the arts corridor, between the Granada and the Art Museum. With its pleasant restaurant and great shows, it partakes of both the dramatic — and musical, with opera nights during summer — and the artistic. But the real secret to Sullivan Goss is its stable of artists both living and dead. Amongst the contemporary you’ll find Whitney Abbott, Hank Pitcher, and Nicole Strasburg — the “estate” artists are even more renowned: Colin Campbell Cooper, Lockwood de Forest, and Ben Messick among them. If these were the only artists and the above were the main reasons, it would be enough to crown the gallery. But Goss keeps surprising us, and we like that.


Contemporary Arts Forum


Santa Barbara Museum of Art

1130 State St., 963-4364

“It’s a shocker,” said Larry Feinberg, SBMA director. “We are so pleased to win yet again.” Feinberg does look back on last year with pride, particularly in the current Picasso/Braque exhibit and the great Van Gogh to Munch show that has been held over. “But next year promises to be even better,” said Feinberg, who has now been at his post almost four years, pointing out shows like the Henri Rivière woodblock show, with its Japanese echoes; the abstract photographer Al Weber; and the nearly completed renovations in the Asian collection. “There’s hardly a square foot of the museum that hasn’t been transformed,” said Feinberg, whose long-awaited book The Young Leonardo was published just this summer. “We’re absolutely delighted that The Independent readers again held our museum in such high esteem. We worked hard to put on these exhibitions and programs, and we’re so pleased that the readers appreciate it, too.”


Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History

Dance Company

State Street Ballet

2285 Las Positas Rd., 563-3262

Jennifer Phillips is tired but grateful. “Please give the readers our thanks,” said the marketing and development manager, who has been with the troupe for many of its 16 years. “We’re very busy putting together this season,” she explained, holding her breath particularly for the first revival of the very successful Starry Nights show the troupe pioneered in the mid-1990s, a show that beautifully deployed scrims and screens and other multimedia delights to dance a Van Gogh painting. “This just reaffirms that the readers know we are here to stay, and we’re grateful just for that, with so many other companies folding in this economy.”


Santa Barbara Ballet

Theater Company

Ensemble Theatre Company

914 Santa Barbara St., 965-5400

“I think people really respond to the quality of the theater and the very high level of professionalism,” said Jonathan Fox, Ensemble Theatre’s artistic director. “I think the stories we have been telling are fascinating, that some of the scenes really resonate, stay in people’s minds.” This year should provide the audiences with even more to remember, said Fox, who at press time was deep into rehearsing the one-man show Underneath the Lintel, a monologue told from the point of view of a librarian who gets back a book that’s 113 years overdue. If that’s not enough, there will be Strindberg and a play with music entitled Black Pearl Sings! to conclude the season. Fox is ready. “I think people will like the talent we are bringing to the theater, some actors and technical people from here in town and others from Los Angeles and New York. We are very happy to have won.”


PCPA Theaterfest

Classical Ensemble

Santa Barbara Symphony

1330 State St., Ste. 102, 898-9386

With the advent of new symphony director David Grossman, the mood around the symphony office is charged with new life, according to Lisa Holzman, the director of development, who has nothing but good things to say about John Robinson, the ex-director. “There’s just a lot of new energy and Nir [Kabaretti] is so excited, too, and I think all of our upcoming concerts are exceptional.” From an all-Beethoven night to a big multimedia celebration of the photographer Ansel Adams using the music of Chris and Dave Brubek, the prospects do seem lively. “You know, the symphony is just great entertainment,” said Holzman, who praises the big sound of an orchestra led by such an accomplished conductor. “And the hall is wonderful. Playing in the Granada is just wonderful.”


Camerata Pacifica

College Night

Baja Sharkeez Mesquite-Mex Broiler

416 State St., 963-9680

“Awesome,” said Ryan Leeper, general manager at Shakeez, upon hearing the designation of his supper and cocktail venue’s elevation to the role of superior host of the traditional college night. That would be Thursday, for you undereducated folk. “I think our appeal is simple: we have a good atmosphere and cheap drinks,” he observed dryly. Dance floor, Top 40 deejays, and wacky specials like an 84-ounce drink, the Shark Attack, which must be shared by four people and is comprised of the same elements that both mai tais and margaritas make up. “We’re absolutely glad we won,” said Leeper.


Sandbar Mexican Restaurant & Tequila Bar

Place to Shoot Pool

Dargan’s Irish Pub & Restaurant

18 E. Ortega St., 568-0702

Maybe it’s not such a stretch. The Irish color is green and the felt cover of a pool table, well, usually green, too. “We just like appealing to everybody,” explained assistant manager Alex Kabakoff, who points out that the pub has a bar for drinkers, a restaurant for families, and a poolroom for hooligans and other fun-lovers from ages 21 to 50. “I think people like our pool tables because they are big, and we have everything else they might want; food, drink, and widescreen televisions broadcasting sports. If you want it, we’ve got it.” In green, too.


Don Q Family Billiard Center


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