Berkshires After Dark: A night in 'Billsville'


WILLIAMSTOWN -- Williamstown has a lot of nicknames from "The Village Beautiful" to "The Purple Bubble," but my favorite is "Billsville."

When I tell people I live there, some respond by giving me the oh-do-you-have-money-eyebrow raise. Let's face it: The town is typecast for being home to a rich college which serves a lot of rich kids and therefore you must be rich to live there. But in the past two years of living there, I've learned this is majorily not the case. My roommate and I, for one, are living proof of the working middle class there.

Sure, there are plenty of fancy pants kind of events happening, but that goes for many towns in the Berkshires. I like Williamstown's nickname of Billsville (the William part shortened to Bill), because to me, at least, it represents the area's laid back, no pretense, everyday Joe side.

I tensed up recently knowing I had to write a nightlife column for this week because, as I worded it in a Facebook post, "Well, the bill for my car repairs just hit me like a Sharknado and put a temporary damper on my happy dance."

Until next pay day, things like beer, a dinner out, or tickets to anything are considered a high-end luxury.

Fortunately, some organizations in Billsville have come to my rescue, proving you don't have to drop a lot of green to have a good night out. In fact, I went to a movie and a play in town this week without having to drop a dime, and would've gone to a concert too had I gotten out of work in time.

I happened to be out walking Sunday night near Spring Street when I heard the line, "Take me now, subcreature" echo into the street. No, it wasn't the voice of a back alley creep, but one of the many great one-liners from the 1984 comedy "Ghostbusters." Spec-ifically, it's part of a dialogue the character Dana Barrett (Sigourney Weaver) says to Dr. Peter Venkman (Bill Murray) while Barrett's possessed by a demonic spirit demigod named Zuul.

I've a nerdy affection for this movie. I find it ceaselessly entertaining and was happy to find it playing as part of a July free film series called "Family Flicks Under the Stars," presented by Images Cinema.

After finishing my lap around Main Street, I found an empty bench on a hill to watch the rest of the film.

The deal is simple, according to Images' website: Bring your own blanket or chairs. Concessions will be available on site. Bike in or walk in to avoid parking hassles. In case of rain, movies will show at Images Cinema at 8 p.m. Plus, I saw pet owners watching the movie with their dogs.

What's not to love about that? Well, there are two things: Bugs and bells. The bugs do bite on a warm July night, so do bring bug spray. As for the town's bells tolling the time, you just have to deal with it.

There are two more movies left in the Sunday night series (which began with "Some Like it Hot"): "The Music Man," a classic musical (this Sunday at 8:20 p.m.) and animated superhero flick "The Incredibles" (July 28, 8:15 p.m.). As a prequel to the movie, patrons can also enjoy the town's free Summer Sundays small street festival, which includes food and crafts vendors, music and family stuff, beginning at 4 p.m.

Tuesday night I was hoping to treat myself to a double-feature of twilight culture by first heading to The Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute for its free Tuesday night Outdoor Concert Series. I've been to other performances, which coincide with the presence of on-site food vendors, but have not yet seen a set this season. This week's band, Funk in the Trunk, sounded intriguing enough by its name alone. I didn't get to see the group myself because I couldn't make the 6 p.m. start time.

I was a little late, but did make it to Williams College's Poker Flats Field for Williamstown Theatre Festival's Free Theatre production of "Dracula, or The Un-Dead." (Flip over to Berkshires Week to Naomi LaChance's story on the whole production.)

Again, there was no charge for this event, though I wish I did have a little more cash on me. I would've gladly made a donation to the show. Also, there was an ice cream truck and the How We Roll egg roll food truck on site to help patrons make a deliciously entertaining night of it. Picnics are welcome, and I have to give a special shout-out to the couple who had their picnic basket, bottle of wine and a pair of neon plastic goblets -- the embodiment of a carefree summer night.

I'm a very lucky gal to live in such an area that celebrates free culture, and I think the best part about heading to these events, aside from the cost, was being among 50 to 100 people, and the occasional dogs, gathered in a open air setting, sharing a common experience. There's no better chorus than group laughter during a film or experiencing a collective jumping as a vampire dramatically projects itself from a casket.

Billsville, I don't care what people say about you, you're alright in my book.


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