New venue: Dixon Place finally gets its official grand opening

Dixon Place (161A Chrystie St between Delancey and Rivington Sts; 212-219-0736 , dixonplace.org) may not be "new and improved" so much as "improved"—the nonprofit performance space and artist hangout has actually been running a pseudo-underground operation at its current LES location since last December, hosting over 500 performers and serving as one of the nicer spaces used for the New York International Festival. But now that the is have been dotted, the liquor license has come through and all the high-tech theater equipment is set up and ready to roll, Dixon's ready for a belated "cutting of the red tape" moment. After a $5.7-million capital campaign and six years of construction, the organization deserves a celebration—and its own official day, which it got from Mayor Bloomberg, who issued a proclamation around lunchtime declaring today "Dixon Place Day."

While recent visitors to Dixon Place will be familiar with the snazzy performance space, it's the now-furnished and fully stocked bar that should draw new punters. With a piecemeal collection of rugs and chair, a corner piano and rotating painting and photography exhibitions, the vibe is that of a neighborhood art bar. "It's kind of the after-work place for folks from the New Museum and local galleries and stores," says marketing director Tim Ranney. They're still working out the kinks, but Ranney says to expect free readings and live music six to seven nights a week, as well as a drinks menu including craft beers and specialty cocktails. (Aspiring mixologists should look out for an upcoming contest to create a cocktail called "The Dixon"—the winner will get free tickets to a show and a private party in the lounge.)

In addition to salon-ifiying its barroom, Dixon Place is getting ready to launch its 2010 performance schedule. One of the highlights promises to be the Urban Dance Collective's "In Search of the Invisible People," a "danceumentary" based on the world of pre-Giuliani NYC nightlife, notably the underground house music scene. Blending video, voguing and spoken word, the show features a score developed with current house music artists like Kevin Hedge (Blaze) and Louie Vega. "Invisible People" runs January 6--16; tickets are $15 (seniors and students $12) Wednesdays and Thursdays, and $20 (seniors and students $15) Fridays and Saturdays. Head to dixonplace.org or call 212-219-0736 for advance reservations.