Berkshires After Dark: Celebrate end of season in style


All good things must come to an end, they say, but that doesn't mean they can't go out with style and celebration.

The first day of autumn doesn't occur until Sunday, Sept. 22, but Labor Day Weekend typically heralds the end of the summer season. In my mind, that means there's no better incentive to get out and enjoy the best of what a Berkshire County summer offers.

As Eagle Features Editor Lindsey Hollenbaugh pointed out in the article above, there are certain seasonal traditions that shouldn't be left undone, from hanging on a river to cozying up to an evening bonfire.

I also believe it's imperative to attend at least one last hurrah for the summer festival/concert/performance season, particularly in an outdoor setting.

This past Saturday, I was fortunate enough to do
just that.

My college friend Megan, her husband Yassine, and his mother visiting from Morocco trekked out to the Berkshires from the eastern part of the state so we could all attend one of the last 2013 performances at Jacob's Pillow. The day included multiple celebrations within itself, including the fact they were first timers there, and that it was the first professional dance performance that Yassine and his mother had seen.

We bought matinee tickets to the Martha Graham Dance Company performance, which celebrated, in part, the 100th anniversary of the dance "The Rite of Spring," as well as new works "Lamentation Variations" and one of the most arresting contemporary dances I've ever seen, "Rust," by Spanish choreographer Nacho Duato.

It was a perfect late-summer day, with blue skies, and people of all ages, backgrounds and fashions strolling about the bucolic campus. The Ted Shawn Theatre was packed. After each piece was performed, the audience applause was sustained and gracious.

Later that evening, I switched up my long summer dress for a shorter funky ballet pink tulle skirt and some boots to return to Jacob's Pillow for its final dance celebration.

The festival finale was thoroughly well-organized to entertain all, from food and drink to setting the mood, to attracting more than 100 people.

The gentle sound of daytime birds chirping was replaced by the energetic chatter and smooth pop music flowing over the people and drinks being served in the Pillow Pub.

Blake's Barn, near the box office, became an oversized photo booth where people could play with props like hats, glasses and tutus, and have a picture taken by professional photographer Christopher Duggan. (Check the photos out at

Somewhere there was a great food spread, so I heard, but I missed it.

You couldn't, however, miss the spotlights and a fire pit, which cast ambient light throughout the center of the campus. Digital projections of the phrase, "Let's Dance" were cast atop the roofs of the tented café and near the tea garden.

By the latter site, staff had set up an outdoor bar with wine and cocktails and bunches of yellow and pink balloons. The adjacent Bakalar Studio -- where Ted Shawn and his Men Dancers first held rehearsals and public showings in the 1930s -- was transformed into a vibrant dance hall, where my friend DJ BFG was mixing a live set of music for all to move and groove to. Another photographer, Edward Acker, also was there, mingling with the crowd and capturing the revelry.

The crowd included patrons, Pillow staff and dance school and company members. I'm happy to say, the twerking was minimal and the dance moves were creative, interpretive and some couples were downright sensual with their twirls, lifts and dips (take note and perhaps lessons, Miley Cyrus and Robin Thicke).

Believe it or not, I haven't been going out much, but on this particular evening, I had an absolute blast, dancing, chatting, laughing and enjoying the beauty that is the Berkshires after dark.


As the summer comes to an end, I highly recommend catching similar outdoor cultural celebrations wherever you can. Tonight for example, there's DownStreet Art in North Adams, which may be one of the last times you can stroll a street festival in short sleeves, for free, before the cooler weather sets in.

Mass MoCA will host its last dance party on Saturday night with A Tribe Called Red, hopefully in the outdoor Courtyard C, if the weather holds. What else could be more exciting than dancing in the moonlight?

Tanglewood fans will surely be in for a treat this weekend with an all-star lineup, beginning tonight with the cast of NPR's "Wait, Wait Don't Tell Me!" then jazz with Donal Fox and Harry Connick Jr. on Saturday and closing with the Boston Pops Esplanade Orchestra and Patti Austin.

Tonight will also include the final Party in the Park, featuring the band Greylock, at Noel Field in North Adams. On Friday, The Frontmen will close out the Chesterfest Americana Music Series in Stockbridge. On Saturday, Big & Bigger will close out the concert series at Lilac Park in Lenox.

A few more venues, like Tannery Pond in New Lebanon, N.Y., and Pittsfield's Third Thursdays, have a few more outdoor performances left this season, but otherwise it's either now or wait until 2014.

Wherever you go, whatever you do, be safe, have fun and enjoy this holiday weekend!


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