Seventy-five years ago, the Motion Picture Academy didn't think a movie star holding a statue of an angular bald man while giving a speech to colleagues warranted public broadcast. Twelve years ago, the first St. Louis International Film Festival screened 25 films and didn't expect to sell more than 4000 tickets. They were both wrong.
These days SLIFF screens 175 films, and the Motion Picture Academy is the most powerful organization in the western hemisphere. Well, maybe not that powerful, but the academy has granted Cinema St. Louis, the organizer of SLIFF, the right to host the only sanctioned Oscar Night America Party in St. Louis.
The party is in the Coronado Ballroom (3701 Lindell Boulevard), a bastion of old-world elegance. It's an honest-to-goodness fancy Oscar party, with its own red-carpet ceremony where the St. Louis celebrity caste will disembark and be seen; inside the ballroom, guests will enjoy dinner and watch the awards live via satellite. So how swank is the party? Black-tie optional and $100 a ticket, friends.
6 p.m. is the Cocktail Hour; dinner and the Big Show start at 7:30 p.m. Call 314-454-0042, ext. 14, for tickets and details. -- Mark Dischinger
Fire and Ice
So cool it's hot
There are few things that can bring together the elemental opposites of hot and cold; freezer burn, Pat Benatar and the late, lamented McDLT are among them. You can add local gallery the Craft Alliance to that short list now, thanks to its Fire + Ice = When Hell Freezes Over benefit party, which allows you to enjoy the winter/spring limbo with entertainment from both ends of the thermometer. Whether you're hot-blooded or chilled out, you'll feel right at home.
Fire + Ice heats things up with demonstrations of flashy fire-based crafts such as glass fusing, molten-metal pouring and raku (a theatrical, spark-shooting school of Japanese pottery). And to satisfy your inner pyromaniac, there will be flame sculptures and fire spinning. But before you can say, "Burn, baby, burn," Craft Alliance will turn down the temperature with displays of ice sculpting and ice skating, including a pairs session with special guests "Baton" Bob Jamerson and the Circus Chicken.
Your ears will not be left out of the thermal dichotomy either: Fire + Ice promises sets including the humid Cajun sounds of the Zydeco Crawdaddies and the crisp, chilled house-funk of the (admittedly ill-named) Hot House Sessions. And whether you shiver or swelter, wrap up the evening at the Chase Park Plaza's Café Eau (232 North Kingshighway) afterparty, which just might be the perfect place to find someone to keep you warm.
Fire + Ice takes place from 7 to 11 p.m. at Steinberg Ice Rink in the southeast corner of Forest Park. Tickets (which include ice skating and "eats and liquid treats") are $35 to $100. For more information, call the Craft Alliance at 314-725-1177, ext. 26. -- Niles Baranowski
Step on It
Before disco and the dawn of postmodernism, the cool cats 'n' kitties knew how to cut a rug and, like the tango, it took two. Hip-to-hip or cheek-to-cheek, it was couples on the floor. Folks got dressed up to get down at dance clubs or neighborhood basement parties, where 25 cents got you in for six or seven hours of cardio fun. Strappy heels and shiny wingtips whipped through the jitterbug, swing, bop, lindy hop and two-step. In our brave new post-postmodern world, these dances have come back as Steppin'. Born in the dance clubs of Chicago, where the old school was never really dismissed, Steppin' borrows from all the aforementioned styles and is a refreshing change of pace from the Night at the Roxbury school of spastic bobbing that now passes for dancing. Skip your Jazzercising for an afternoon of instruction from full-time Chicago steppers that will raise your pulse and help your social life at the same time. Steppin' in the Afternoon sessions run from 1 to 5 p.m. at II STL Brothers' Smooth Jazz Club (8909 Natural Bridge Road), and admission is $12 to $15. -- Jedidiah Ayres
Talent in Bloom
Looking for a little bit of Hollywood but can't quite afford the plane ticket to LA? Do you crave live entertainment at budget prices? The cabaret at Magnolia's Bar (5 South Vandeventer Avenue) has the song and dance for you! Actually, they've got it every Friday and Saturday night -- Magnolia's Blossoms do some fine female impersonations, they encourage audience participation, and it'll only cost you $6 (first drink included). Call 314-652-6500 or visit www.magsbar.com for more information. -- Amy Helms
Live From North Grand!
Catch the Commonspace's first-ever variety show at 10 p.m., as local group OXCA (Open Xpression thru Community Art) puts on an SNL-like sketch show, incorporating comedy, music and spoken word, immediately followed by an open-mic session.
"Our goal is to give the people something interesting to do, not just clubs and movies," says OXCA founder Tann Moore. (Plus, Horatio Sanz is very annoying.)
The Commonspace is located at 615 North Grand Boulevard, and the variety show carries a $5 cover. Call 314-283-2498 for details. -- Rose Martelli