We appreciate the Barclays Center—it’s Brooklyn’s first stadium, after all—but the volume of people that flock to Prospect Heights on game or concert day can be astounding. Don’t panic: You don’t have to make friends with the (probably drunk) masses, and you don’t have to resign yourself to joining the stroller-pushing locals. Instead, head down some a side street and find middle ground in some of the area’s best affordable vintage shops, bars, arts and entertainment options.
RECOMMENDED: New York guide: 11 themed itineraries
You’ll probably want to avoid anything remotely similar to black-and-white Nets paraphernalia—especially if you’re trying to escape a whole sea of it. Start heading away from the “action” and toward Beacon’s Closet (92 Fifth Ave at Warren St, Park Slope, Brooklyn; 718-230-1630, beaconscloset.com), where you’ll encounter colorful, gently used mens- and womenswear, shoes and accessories. For guys’ apparel that’s new but maintains a vintage aesthetic, try the Brooklyn Circus (150 Nevins St between Bergen and Wyckoff Sts, Boerum Hill, Brooklyn; 718-858-0919, thebkcircus.com). The preppy options range from knit sweaters ($130–$270) to tweed newsboy caps ($45–$80).
As the name implies, this highly regarded institution focuses on inspiring dialogue about social and political issues facing African diaspora around the world. Its holdings and rotating roster of exhibitions span all mediums, from works on paper and paintings to sculpture and prints. Keep an eye on the monthly calendar for art and music events, including poetry readings, block parties and panel discussions.
Seek out entertainment of the non-sports variety with a visit to BAM, the country’s oldest performing-arts center and home to eclectic film, theater, dance and music programming. This spring, you can see anything from avant-garde dance to opera and international ballet groups. If you’re around on a Friday or Saturday night, head to the upper-level Lepercq Space, a renovated ballroom with vaulted red arches and marquee lighting, for free music at the BAMcafé.
If you’d rather get in on the action, try experiencing the pulsing flavors of Latin music and dance with a one-hour private lesson ($20) at this affordable spot (718-602-1322, salsasalsadancestudio.com). Both beginners and experienced dancers are welcome, and the studio offers a range of price packages (a weekly one-hour class is $65 per month). Already know some basic footwork? The studio’s free semimonthly socials are a great opportunity to show off your moves.
It’s time for culture of an entirely different ilk: Every Friday night, this welcoming shop (347-889-5501, ilvinotorchio.com) lowers the lights and opens its doors for a weekly wine tasting. Staffers and wine reps introduce budding oenophiles to several international varietals, with new vinos each time.