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The best things to do in NYC this week

The best things to do in NYC this week include celebrating MLK's legacy, partying it up for Mother Nature at the House of Yes and attending a show of celebrity impressions at Improv Asylum

By Shaye Weaver and Collier Sutter |
House of Yes Naughty for Nature
Photograph: Courtesy of Kenny Rodriguez

We could have made this edition of the best things to do in NYC this week at least 50 items long, but we were able to restrain ourselves to help you narrow down your plans so your weekdays feel like weekends.

First, pay your respects to the great Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. at one of several events around the city and then party it up at House of Yes in honor of Mother Nature. Finish out the week by grabbing a cocktail at the new Dolly Parton dive bar.

RECOMMENDED: Full list of the best things to do in New York

Best things to do in NYC this week

Harlem Gospel Choir
Photograph: Courtesy Harlem Gospel Choir
Things to do

Harlem Gospel Choir celebrates Martin Luther King Jr. Day

Sony Hall, Midtown West

The Harlem Gospel Choir will mark the day joyfully with a concert featuring the sounds and singers from Harlem's black churches. The choir itself was founded in 1986 when its founder Allen Bailey attended a celebration in honor of MLK at the Cotton Club.

Things to do

Martin Luther King Jr. Music & Film at NYPL

Grand Central Library, Midtown East

Watch and listen to film and songs to celebrate MLK's life and legacy, including Highway Into History: 50 Miles from Selma to Montgomery, MLK's best-loved hymns sung by Mahalia Jackson, Martin Luther King, Jr.: letter from Birmingham Jail and more.

Secret Science Club
Photograph: Erin Flis
Things to do, Talks and lectures

Secret Science Club

The Bell House, Gowanus

Apparently, mad scientists like to get down just as much as the rest of us, so join in on this brainiac throwdown at the Bell House, during which you can hear physicists, chemists, professors and more share lectures. Past talks have included examinations of the unknown creatures roaming NYC and other esoteric subjects. Between talks, watch live fusions of science experiments and performance art, try out custom themed cocktails and dance to futuristic beats. This month, dive inside the human body with structural biologist Kevin Gardner.

ImprovAsylum Next Celebrity President
Photograph: Courtesy Anna Griffin @annagriffinc

The Next Celebrity President

Improv Asyulm New York, Chelsea

Between Kourtney Kardashian, Ice-T, Taylor Swift and Tracy Morgan, who would win the presidency? Get ready to find out—well, kind of—at this wacky debate show (with impressions!) where comedians Andrea Lopez, Tristan Griffin, Rachael Burke and Corey Gibbs go head to head in their respective roles.  

Holistic Hoops
Photograph: Courtesy Holistic Hoops
Things to do

Wellness Wednesday

The Williamsburg Hotel, Midtown West

Holistic Hoops and holistic health coach Renee DePadua are hosting a self-love workshop at The Williamsburg Hotel that will guide you through breaking exercises and meditation and encourage self-expression and sharing to bring about clarity and empowerment. Each participant will also get a goodie bag from Hush & Hush. 

House of Yes Naughty for Nature
Photograph: Courtesy of Kenny Rodriguez

Naughty for Nature at House of Yes

House of Yes, Bushwick

Celebrate the bird and the bees, literally, at this House of Yes spectacle featuring ecological sex-ed via hip-hop, comedy, and sensual performance presented by Nate and Hilla, a duo of emcees and artists. Go ahead, show Mother Nature how much you careby partying in her name.

Sip & Play
Time Out/Ali Garber
News, City Life

Play at this new board game café in Park Slope

Sip & Play is a board game cafe that allows players of all ages to eat and drink while racking up points or moving their meeples across classic titles like Monopoly and Yahtzee or deeper cuts like Settlers of Catan, Ticket to Ride, Machi Koro, Jaipur and Codenames. A mere five dollars will buy you more than three hours of play. For those who don't know the first thing about these games, Sip & Play staffers are happy to teach customers how to play. Sip & Play has a full cafe that whips up coffee and specialty drinks, including boba tea, and tasty bites like chicken tenders, fries, avocado toast and bagels mostly priced under $10. Hours are 9am to 11pm on Sundays through Thursdays and from 9am until midnight on Fridays and Saturdays.

The Duplex
Photograph: Courtesy The Duplex


The Duplex, West Village

Writer and performer David Goldberg invokes Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Storm, Catwoman and other superwomen through personal essays and pop-culture "spell-casting." Directed by Ryan Amador.

Photograph: Courtesy Ulysse Lemerise for Creos
News, City Life

Ride on a huge, glowing seesaw on Broadway

Broadway has morphed into giant playground with 12 illuminated seesaws that passersby can hop on and interact with through the end of the month. The Garment District Alliance is unveiling the seesaw installation, dubbed "Impulse," on Monday, Jan 6, on Broadway between 37th and 38th streets. When activated, the seesaws, which range in length from 16 to 24 feet, radiate light and make music, transforming visitors into musicians and artists, according to the organization. Created by Lateral Office, CS Design Inc., "Impulse" is meant to embody the idea of serialism, repetition and variation to produce zones of intensity and calm, its producer, Creos says. It's been shown around North America, including in Niagara Falls, Boston, Montreal and in other cities. Your inner child will be able to give its own Broadway performance through Jan 31, during which the block will be completely closed to vehicular traffic.

MoMA Design Store The Record Shop
Photograph: Courtesy of MoMA Design Store
News, Shopping & Style

Search the stacks at MoMA's gorgeous new record store pop-up

New Yorkers have a new record shop in Soho with dozens of records to set their needles on. Through March 1, the MoMA Design Store at 81 Spring Street will have a special concept space it collaborated on with Williamsburg's Earwax Records called The Record Shop. The pop-up, which is decorated with color blocks of bright pinks, yellows and greens, is meant to unite music and design in one space in a reflection of 20th century pop culture, MoMA says. Inside, audiophiles will find more than 45 records (Duran Duran, The Rolling Stones, Talking Heads, Miles Davis, Philip Glass) from MoMA's permanent collection, featuring cover designs by modern artists like Andy Warhol, Raymond Pettibon, Richard Avedon and Robert Frank, all of whom have been featured at MoMA. If a new record player is something on your to-get list, MoMA can hook you up with one, too. There are also fine art reproductions of concert posters for David Bowie: Ziggy Stardust, Louis Armstrong: All Stars and The Beatles: School of Rock by Blue Shaker House of Cool for $36 each.

Photo: Joshua Rothkopf
News, Movies

Explore Netflix movies at this pop-up

Head to "The Netflix Film Experiences in Dolby," a free two-floor exhibit of costumes, script pages and video clips assembled over several rooms at Dolby SoHo (477 Broadway) to see inside some of the streaming service's most notable films. Attendees can immerse themselves in an installation where Al Pacino's Jimmy Hoffa yelling at you from multiple screens from "The Irishman." Ever wanted to get up close and personal with some papal outfits? Costumes from The Two Popes are on display. More excitingly to these eyes: There's a lower level fully pimped out with '70s-era finery from Dolemite Is My Name. You can't actually see the Eddie Murphy comedy in a single New York City cinema at the moment (apart from your own Netflix account) but paradoxically, this exhibit has created a temporary public space for the movie's supercharged energy. The show is open to the public from 1–8pm Wednesdays through Sundays until January 26. 

Photography: Time Out / Ali Garber
News, Drinking

Celebrate Dolly Parton at this themed dive bar

Dolly’s Swing & Dive recently opened in Williamsburg and loosely plays off the busty singer’s “My boobs are fake but my voice is real” business plan (here, the space is more refined than your dingy-but-cool watering hole). Owners Raffaello Vancouten and Devin Schuck recreated their vision of a dive bar “from your 20’s” and as Vancouten says in a statement: “Devin and I took all the things we love most about a dive bar, like the boisterous attitude and cheap drinks, and made it just a little more grown up.” In the former Café Biba digs, you’ll find a vintage-looking jukebox, saloon-style stools at the handsome wraparound bar, plush banquettes and yes, an ode to Parton in the bathroom with a wall plastered in her records. There are also views of the East River from inside and an outdoor patio. Perhaps the most impressive part here is that the prices stay true to a dive bar. Cocktails are all $9.

TWA hotel
Photograph: Courtesy of Alyssa Meadows
News, City Life

Relax in a massive rooftop jacuzzi at JFK

TWA Hotel just gave us another epic way to embrace a chilly New York winter. Instead of heading to JFK to fly somewhere tropical over the next few months, bring your swimsuit to TWA Hotel’s rooftop infinity pool and lounge in water that's now cranked up to a toasty 95 degrees Fahrenheit. (Germaphobes: If the thought of a hotel jacuzzi freaks you out, heads up that TWA’s rooftop pool water completely purifies itself every 30 minutes, instead of once or twice a day. Phew.) During the summer months, there are fees and food and beverage minimums for non-hotel guests to visit the pool and observation deck. But as of right now, there’s zero charge for visitors to swing by. Even better than a free pool day, they've turned the poolside bar into a "Runway Chalet," a 1960s après ski-themed winter hideaway that’s both heated and tented. The heated infinity edge pool and deck are open from 7am to 11pm every day (weather permitting) so consider heading here after an ice skating sesh at TWA on the tarmac below. The Runway Chalet at The Pool Bar is also open daily, from 11am to 11pm.

Vale Rink
Photograph: Courtesy of the William Vale
News, City Life

Go ice skating with a view of the Manhattan skyline

Now you can take in stunning skyline views atop The William Vale while on your ice skates. The hotel's 23rd floor rooftop is now the home of Vale Rink, where you can do your spins and lutzes high above Brooklyn with major views of Manhattan's skyline. Doing laps at the rink is $20 for adults and $12 for kids, which includes skate rentals. The new Vale Rink has a big advantage that other NYC rinks don't have— it's made with synthetic ice by Glice which is said to provide a smoother glide than the natural stuff. It doesn't require much maintenance and sticks around even if the temperature goes above freezing. The William Vale also has a tent lounge with hot chocolate and treats for those taking a break from skating, joining the ranks of other venues that offer rooftop bars during the wintertime. The Vale Rink will be open 2 to 10pm on Wednesdays and Thursdays; 2pm to midnight on Fridays; noon to midnight on Saturdays; and noon to 10pm on Sundays, so lace up your skates.

Lunar New Year Pearl River Mart
Photograph: Courtesy Pearl River Mart
Things to do

Lunar New Year at Pearl River Mart

Pearl River Mart, Tribeca

NYC's favorite Asian-inspired emporium has a full line-up of ways to celebrate the Year of the Rat.  On Saturday, January 18, between 5 and 7pm, check out its Chinatown Odyssey art exhibition of Jerry Ma, a novel artist whose illustrations tell the classic Chinese tale of the Monkey King and his minions as they journey through 1980s Chinatown. Then on January 25, its Tribeca location is having a tasting of Lunar New Year treats (1–5pm), a dumpling-making demo and tasting (1–3pm), a dim sum tasting and happy hour (3–5pm) and a lantern procession (4–4:30pm). Its Chelsea Market location is hosting a ribbon dance performance (3–3:30pm), a lion dance with drumming and acrobatics (4:30–5pm) and a dumpling tasting and happy hour (5–6pm). All locations will offer a 15 percent discount on that day.

Things to do

Shake Rattle & Roll Dueling Pianos

Rattle N Hum West, Hell's Kitchen

Two piano men battle it out to prove who is truly the master of all 88 keys, with a playlist decided entirely by the audience. Whether you’re in the mood for Billy Joel, Christina Aguilera or current chart toppers, these pianists are up for the challenge. But they expect you to do your part by singing along. 

Things to do

SUPER FUNLAND: Journey into the Erotic Carnival

The Museum of Sex always has something exciting going on behind closed doors, but their new exhibition, Super Funland: Journey into the Erotic Carnival, is now open and it's an interactive indoor adventure perfect for the chilly months. There you'll find a 4-D immersive “Tunnel of Love” ride, an erotic fortune-telling machine (modeled as RuPaul), a kissing booth, and a lit-up climbing structure. Then when it's time to take the edge off, visitors can slide down a spiral slide into the Museum’s psychedelic carnival bar, Lollipop Lounge, for cocktails. 

Photograph: Courtesy Fotografiska New York
News, Art

Fotografiska New York

Fans of photography who live in New York City have any number of museums or galleries where they find everything from iconic images to the medium’s latest thing. Now they have another place to go to: the Fotografiska gallery in Stockholm, Sweden has opened a New York Branch in the heart of the Flatiron District. Fotografiska New York features three floors of exhibition space as well as Verōnika, a dining room and bar operated by award-winning Philadelphia restaurateur, Stephen Starr. Named for the patron saint of photographers, Verōnika is being helmed by executive chef Robert Aikens and will offer a menu inspired by cuisines from Northern France, Austria and Eastern Europe, all served up with a side order of seasonality and sustainability.

Dandy Wellington
Courtesy Dekalb Market Hall

Dandy Wellington & His Swingin’ Band

Dekalb Stage, Downtown Brooklyn

Learn how to move your body to the jazzy beats of Dandy Wellington & His Swingin' Band, who will play each Wednesday night through January. You'll start off with a free lesson and lindy hop 'till 10 p.m.

Nervous Laughter
Courtesy: Nervous Laughter
Things to do

Nervous Laughter

Lady Stardust, East Village

When done properly, stand-up comedy can be about so much more than just making people laugh. It can also be used as a cudgel against tyranny and injustice, the jokes we laugh at can make us look within and confront the thorny issues that rarely come up in polite conversation.  When creating the concept for their bi-weekly comedy show Nervous Laughter, Sarah Harvard and Gene Meyer wanted to tap into this approach. Each show has a different theme (past themes include Green Card and Culture Class) and features an outstanding lineup of stand-ups exploring the topic. Ideally you'll laugh a lot, cringe a little and walk out of the room thinking.  

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Things to do

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