Free in NYC


by Mallory Passuite, 07/20/2011

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There's always something exciting to do and see around the five boroughs that doesn't cost a dime. See our weekly picks below, and visit our calendar and special offers section for more free events.

July 20–26

Wednesday, July 20
La Bohème
A century before "La Vie Boheme" was portrayed in the rock opera Rent, there was La Bohème (which actually served as inspiration for the prior). Giacomo Puccini's 1896 opera follows a set of struggling artists in the Latin Quarter of 1830s Paris. The four-act production focuses on everyday people—instead of on kings and gods, who were the traditional subjects at the time—and problems such as love and loss, which is what helped La Bohème earn its home in the pantheon of opera classics. On July 20, New York Grand Opera, now in its 38th season, presents a free outdoor performance of La Bohème at the Central Park Bandshell, beginning at 7:30pm.

Thursday, July 21
The Monkees
The Monkees—famed for sunny, infectious hits such as "Daydream Believer," "Last Train to Clarksville" and "I'm a Believer," as well as their eponymous late-'60s television show—will play the Coney Island Seaside Summer Concert Series on July 21. While the band and show were inspired by The Beatles' movie A Hard Day's Night, The Monkees actually outsold The Beatles and The Rolling Stones combined in the United States in 1967. The band split in 1970 but is now making the rounds on their 45th-anniversary tour. The show starts at 7:30pm. Concertgoers can stand or bring their own seats; a limited number of chairs are available for rental for $5.

Friday, July 22
Third Order
In the era of Twitter and Tumblr, one might expect modern societies to be enhanced and improved by the boundless array of information and images so readily available, shared, tweeted and re-tweeted. But curators of the current show at Charles Bank Gallery posit that the effect of the constant use of these technologies is actually a shortened attention span, with people spending less time absorbing material, art in particular. Third Order explores this idea, challenging audiences to engage with the works as well as modes of communication on a deeper level. The group exhibition includes works by Paul Allsopp, Violet Dennison, Garrett Pruter and more. Third Order remains on view through August.

Saturday, July 23
New Museum Block Party
The New Museum's annual block party takes over Sara D. Roosevelt Park once again, on July 23, with free art projects and performances that are all related to the mission of this contemporary institution. The event runs from noon to 5pm and attendees will receive free same-day admission to the museum, where they can check out Ostalgia, the group-show exploration of the periods before and after the collapse of communism and the roles artists played, and Charles Atlas: Joints Array, a multimedia installation that includes experimental film clips of dancer and choreographer Merce Cunningham and unpublished ambient music from his partner, John Cage. 

Sunday, July 24
In 2008, a company offered Josh Fox $100,000 for a gas lease on his family's Pennsylvania home, with the intent of extracting natural gas from reservoirs deep below the property, using a process called hydraulic fracturing. Intrigued and troubled by the proposal, Fox set out to travel the country and expose the effects of "fracking," which he claims to be dangerous for humans and the environment. Working as his own one-man crew along a 20-plus-state fracking journey, Fox made some troubling discoveries, including flammable tap water. The documentary won a Special Jury Prize at the 2010 Sundance Film Festival, and the issue remains a hot topic of debate. The NYC chapter of the Surfrider Foundation and Patagonia present a free screening of Gasland at 7:30pm at Liberty Hall, in the basement of the Ace Hotel. Food and drinks by The Breslin Bar & Dining Room will be available for purchase. Only those who are 21 or older may attend; email

Monday, July 25
Top Gun
Revisit the time when Tom Cruise was Maverick, a too-cool-for-school Navy fighter pilot recruit, fueled by the need for speed. The 1986 hit film, which celebrates its 25th anniversary this year, will be shown on Brooklyn's storied seaside playground as part of the Coney Island Flicks on the Beach series. The screening, with seating on the sand at West 10th Street, will begin at sundown.

Tuesday, July 26
Mat Pilates
Strengthen your core muscles with a free Hudson River–side session of Pilates, led by Base Fitness instructors on Tuesdays through August 30. The exercise form is known to improve strength while toning and elongating the body, rather than bulking it up, and increase flexibility and stability. The hour-long workout begins at 6:30pm in Riverside Park South (at The Plaza at 66th Street) and participants are asked to wear loose, comfortable clothing and to bring their own mat.

related venues/(4)

  1. 1
    Central Park Bandshell
    Mid-park, 66th to 72nd Sts
    Manhattan – Central Park
  2. 2
    Coney Island
    Surf Avenue
    Brooklyn – Coney Island
    NY 11224
  3. 3
    Sara D. Roosevelt Park
    Chrystie St
    Manhattan – multiple locations
  1. 4
    Riverside Park South
    Henry Hudson Parkway at W. 70th St.
    Manhattan – Upper West Side
    NY 10023

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