Things to do in New York today

The day's best things to do in New York—including free and cheap activities, concerts, screenings, shows, parties and more. It's your social emergency savior.

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Free things to do today

Steven Johnson: How We Got to Now

  • Critics choice
  • Free

Hailed as "the Darwin of technology," best-selling writer Steven Johnson knows a lot about the intersection of science, technology and everyday life—and, better yet, he knows how to explain his ideas to the rest of us. Tonight he takes us on a journey through the secret history of mundane objects (like refrigerators and eyeglass lenses) with a presentation based on his PBS series and new book How We Got to Now: Six Innovations That Made the Modern World. Reserve your spot for the evening here.

  1. Huge 45 Main St, between Front and Water Sts, #220, 11201
  2. Tue Sep 30
More info

On Top

  • Critics choice
  • Free

Susanne Bartsch's weekly soiree goes down every Tuesday night, in which she and her phantasmagoric, outer-limits-of-clubland crowd gather in the Standard's top-floor lounge.

  1. Le Bain 444 W 13th St, at Washington St, 10014
  2. Tue Sep 30
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First Person Plural

  • Critics choice
  • Free

Hosts and producers Amy Benson, Stacy Parker Le Melle and Wendy S. Walters welcome book lovers uptown for this recurring night of literature. After a summer hiatus, the third season kicks off with readings by Lacy M. Johnson, Kiese Laymon and Tiphanie Yanique, and a special deejay set by Lady DM.

  1. Shrine Bar 2271 Adam Clayton Powell Jr. Blvd (Seventh Ave), between 133rd and 134th Sts
  2. Tue Sep 30
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Today's best food and drink events

Book/Plate with Matthew Gavin Frank

  • Critics choice

Giant squids are utterly fascinating, and Frank’s new book, Preparing the Ghost: An Essay Concerning the Giant Squid and Its First Photographer, is a unique hybrid of fiction, science, and memoir centering on this mystical creature and the eccentric Newfoundlander who photographed one in 1874. Don’t miss your chance to ask him all about it at this family-style, adventure-themed dinner crafted for the author by the chefs at Peck's.

  1. Peck's 455A Myrtle Ave, between Washington and Waverly Aves, 11205
  2. Tue Sep 30
More info

Today's free and cheap concerts

Slavic Soul Party!

  • Price band: 1/4
  • Critics choice

Of all the NYC dance bands that draw on Eastern European music, Slavic Soul Party!—in residency at Barbès for more than a decade—is the coolest. And the group isn’t preoccupied with rebelling against the Old World. Live, the band’s members prove they're acutely aware of the common principle that unites the traditions they borrow from: Music ought to move you.

  1. Barbès 376 9th St, at Sixth Ave, 11215
  2. Tue Sep 30 - Tue Oct 28
More info

Old New York Live

  • Price band: 1/4
  • Critics choice

This unpredictable variety show is hosted by various members of "the best band in late night," the Roots. Expect performances from guitarist Captain Kirk Douglas, lead singer Tariq "Black Thought" Trotter and rapper Dice Raw. plus spontaneous apparances by emerging musicians and artists from the East Coast. The hip-hop and R&B group was apparently inspired by its run on The Tonight Show, because this show will be televised before a live audience.

  1. The Bell House 149 7th St, between Second and Third Aves, 11215
  2. Tue Sep 30
More info
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Today's best arts and culture

The Haunted Pumpkin Garden

  • Price band: 2/4
  • Critics choice

Halloween junkies can get their spooky fix in this scary patch of the Children’s Adventure Garden filled with frightening spirits lurking in between the gourds. Weekend programming includes parades, where kids can get some extra mileage out of their costumes. Older visitors can enjoy sessions such as a pumpkin-carving demo with Ray Villafane (Oct 19, 20).

  1. New York Botanical Garden Bronx River Pkwy, at Fordham Rd, 10458
  2. Tue Sep 30 - Fri Oct 31
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"NYC Makers: The MAD Biennial"

  • Price band: 2/4
  • Critics choice

Finally, an ultimate tribute to not just the artistic minds that make New York a creative hub, but also the behind-the-scenes guys we never hear about. NYC will pay homage to 100 awesome artists and their production teams who have shown outstanding levels of talent in their fields, from stonemasons and set designers to instrument makers and media-art collectives. The exhibit dedicated reveals how connected these seemingly very different art forms are. And maybe after this, you’ll spot how all of these creative styles exist in our everyday New York City lives.

  1. Museum of Arts & Design 2 Columbus Circle, at Broadway, 10019
  2. Tue Sep 30 - Sun Oct 12
More info

New York City Ballet Fall 2014

  • Price band: 2/4
  • Critics choice

The company returns with a promising fall season. The performances kick off with the Sarah Jessica Parker–conceived Fashion Gala, in which pieces, including now resident choreographer Justin Peck's new work, feature costumes by prominent fashion designers. As the season continues, highlights include an Alexei Ratmansky premiere—his fourth with NYCB—and a variety of Balanchine classics, such as Serenade, Apollo and Agon. Additional new works are by Liam Scarlett and Troy Schumacher. The season ends on Oct 19, but a perhaps more significant ending occurs the day before when celebrated principal Wendy Whelan offers her farewell performance after 30 years.

  1. David H. Koch Theater (at Lincoln Center) 20 Lincoln Center Plaza, at 63rd St
  2. Tue Sep 30 - Sun Oct 19
More info
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Tonight's best comedy show

Bridget Everett: Rock Bottom

  • Rated as: 4/5
  • Price band: 2/4
  • Critics choice

Bridget Everett: Rock Bottom. Joe’s Pub (see Off Broadway). By Bridget Everett. Music and lyrics by Everett, Marc Shaiman and Scott Wittman. Directed by Wittman. With Everett. Running time: 1hr 40mins. No intermission. Rock Bottom: In brief The astonishing, totally fearless Amazon of alt cabaret and raunchy comedy (Inside Amy Schumer) returns to Joe's with a new show commissioned for the venue. Cocreated with Broadway's Marc Shaiman and Scott Wittman (Hairspray) and Beastie Boy Adam Horovitz, this is full-contact New York magic, and not to be missed. Rock Bottom: Theater review by David Cote I was a Bridget Everett virgin before Rock Bottom, so yes, there was some blood. There was also lots of spilled chardonnay, sweat and a few other fluids I’d rather not name. In other words, it was all flavors of crazy, and I loved every second. How is it possible that for years I’ve missed Everett’s vaginacentric shock comedy and rafter-splitting rock belt? Fear, if we’re being truthful. I’d seen the pictures, heard the titles and assumed she was too much woman to handle. Still, her latest cabaret act—with songs cowritten by Broadway vets Marc Shaiman and Scott Wittman (Hairspray), as well as with Adam “Ad-Rock” Horovitz and Matt Ray­—is a nice way to ease, semi-lubed, into the Everett aesthetic. Between a ditty about sampling international dong, “Tell Me (Does This Dick Make My Ass Look Big?),” and a nearly scatological dalliance with a British film star, “A Man So Fine,” Everett works

  1. 425 Lafayette St, between Astor Pl and E 4th St
  2. $33
  3. Tue Sep 30 - Thu Oct 16
More info
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Tonight's best nightlife

Company XIV: Rococo Rouge

  • Price band: 3/4
  • Critics choice

Austin McCormick and his Company XIV move into their new digs on Lafayette Street with a new nightlife-performance spectacle, featuring the company's signature blend of live music, decadent dance and luxuriant design.

  1. 428 Lafayette St, between Astor Pl and E 4th St
  2. $55–$125
  3. Tue Sep 30 - Sun Nov 2
More info

On Top

  • Critics choice
  • Free

Susanne Bartsch's weekly soiree goes down every Tuesday night, in which she and her phantasmagoric, outer-limits-of-clubland crowd gather in the Standard's top-floor lounge.

  1. Le Bain 444 W 13th St, at Washington St, 10014
  2. Tue Sep 30
More info

Buddies

  • Critics choice
  • Free

DJ Damian Cote reigns at this casual weeknight get-together, spinning an eclectic set of underground dance, funk, punk, ’80s and rock.

  1. Nowhere 322 E 14th St, between First and Second Aves
  2. Tue Sep 30
More info
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Users say

3 comments
Kerry A
Kerry A

I have a complaint: I'm an avid reader of the "Undateable" section in Time Out, where Time Out sets up two strangers on a date. Well, last week's article featured a boy who wrote extremely cruel things about his date. I understand you want people to be honest, but I can hardly support someone ripping their date to shreds publicly.

Melodie D
Melodie D

Calle 13 is doing a signing today at 6pm at El Barrio Music Center in Harlem!

Arlene
Arlene

So many different kinds of events. Not your usual touristy stuff , and free. Love this site.

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Gotham Bar and Grill

  • Critics choice
  1. 12 E 12th St, between Fifth Ave and University Pl, 10003
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wd~50

  • Price band: 4/4
  • Critics choice
  1. 50 Clinton St, between Rivington and Stanton Sts, 10002-24
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Boulud Sud

  • Rated as: 4/5
  • Price band: 3/4
  • Critics choice
  1. 20 W 64th St, between Broadway and Central Park West, 10023
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Per Se

  • Rated as: 3/5
  • Price band: 4/4
  • Critics choice
  1. Time Warner Center, 10 Columbus Circle, at Broadway, fourth floor, 10019-11
Make reservation