The Five Best Things to Do in Houston This Weekend: Roller Derby and Dance Salad

Team huddle and break.
Team huddle and break. Photo by Lawrence Elizabeth Knox

click to enlarge Team huddle and break. - PHOTO BY LAWRENCE ELIZABETH KNOX
Team huddle and break.
Photo by Lawrence Elizabeth Knox

By now most of us have seen Whip It, in which Ellen Page is small in size but big at heart and tries out for a Texas female roller derby team and gets in because she so obviously has untapped potential. Well, that was roller derby lite for anyone looking to catch the real deal, which goes down right here in Houston. Ellen Page's Whip It is set in some small no-name town in Texas where girls don't roll, but here in Houston our girls roll, punch, throw 'bows and get back up so that their "jammer" can lap the the opposing team and get that W. Catch these lap-rounding ladies this weekend and see if it doesn't give you a taste for more. Another good option: Head to the Wortham Theater Center this weekend to catch dance styles from all around the world join forces right here in Dance Salad Festival.

Sebastian Maniscalco has kept the faith and is now reaping the rewards. Reflecting back on when he was “barely surviving in 1999,” the Chicago-born stand-up is now headlining his own Sebastian Maniscalco: Why Would You Do That? Tour. “I watched Johnny Carson growing up,” he reflects, “and was always enthralled when the comedians came on. How do they remember all this? How do they nail the timing?” For the 43-year-old, those unknowns were admittedly captivating. Since going full time in 2005, he’s released four hourlong specials, hosted his own Sirius XM series and will publish a memoir this year. But stand-up remains his passion and something that he still chooses to share with the rest of us and will this Friday night. He says, “As I grow older, I tend to laugh at things that seem more dramatic than comedic. I think that’s something I notice more in comedians, this ability to laugh hardest at the serious tone.”

7 p.m. Friday. Revention Music Center, 520 Texas. For information, call 713-230-1600 or visit or $43 to $253.25.

Photo by Lawrence Elizabeth Knox
Let's get ready to rumble, because the skating powerhouses of Houston Roller Derby are bringing the action to Revention Music Center with a doubleheader of crowd-pleasing action. We'll get another look at last year's championship rematch when The Valkyries (co-captained by Hot Assets and Slayer Moon) go up against the Psych Ward Sirens (led by Jekyll & Heidi and Mad Milkshake). The rough and tumble continues when the Bayou City Bosses (with captain and co-captain Betty Watchett and Dropkick Betty) pit brain and brawn against The Brawlers (led by Payo Dues and Hellen Killer). Doors open at 6; each bout has two 30-minute periods with breaks in between. Watch these ladies live up to their bad-ass nicknames and go for glory this Saturday night.

7 p.m. April 15. Revention Music Center, 520 Texas. For information, call 713-230-1600 or visit $15 to $30.

click to enlarge A warm embrace, before a sultry finale. - PHOTO BY AMITAVA SARKAR 4
A warm embrace, before a sultry finale.
Photo by Amitava Sarkar 4
Dance Salad is old enough to vote, drink and die for its country, so at this point, any produce-related metaphor would be as fresh as the jicama in your day-old Salata bowl. This year’s festival is more like “We Are the World.” Memphis Jookin, the traditional Indian dance Kuchipudi, classical ballet and contemporary dance share space on the same program. “People are coming together whether people like it or not,” says Nancy Henderek, director and founder of Dance Salad, in a thinly veiled rebuke to the current U.S. president. “I travel to many places in the world to gather the beautiful dances that are seen in Dance Salad Festival,” says Henderek, who has curated the festival the past 22 years. “And dancers from around the world consider it an honor to be invited to Houston to perform.” The curated collection of different dance genres is all in one place along with the chance for you to check out one of Houston's longest running dance festivals this Saturday.

7:30 p.m. Saturday. Wortham Theater Center, 501 Texas. For information, call 832-487-7041 or visit $19.50 to $52.50.

click to enlarge It is the clay court championships after all. - PHOTO BY AARON SPRECHER US CLAY
It is the clay court championships after all.
Photo by Aaron Sprecher US Clay
It hasn’t happened in the National Football League or the National Hockey League. But it has during the last four U.S. Men’s Clay Court Championships, where there’s been a different champ each year since 2013. Instead of a near-dynasty à la the New England Patriots or the Chicago Blackhawks, John Isner, Fernando Verdasco, Jack Sock and defending champion Juan Monaco have all won the tennis tourney. All return in this year’s field, which also includes Tommy Haas, the 38-year-old German veteran who was tops in 2004. The 2017 edition features ten participants who have posted up in the top 25 in their careers, as well as four players who have been anointed as “next gen” talent by the Association of Tennis Professionals. Catch the "next gen" this Saturday and Sunday to see who will come out on top this year.

6 p.m. April 15 and 2 p.m. April 16. River Oaks Country Club, 1600 River Oaks. For information, call 713-527-0345 or visit $20 to $70.

click to enlarge Catch the live performance of their hit song "Move" this Sunday night. - PHOTO BY OS GALINDO
Catch the live performance of their hit song "Move" this Sunday night.
Photo by Os Galindo
It starts with a trio of singers, members of a Chicago girl group discovered at an amateur talent show by the man who becomes their manager. As they negotiate their attempt to rise to the top, conflicts ensue, and one member is replaced while the others go on to stardom. The Broadway version of Dreamgirls, featuring music by Henry Krieger and lyrics and book by Tom Eyen, went on to win six Tony Awards and two Grammys before being made into a movie that earned Jennifer Hudson an Academy Award; now it’s presented in Houston by Theatre Under The Stars. Zonya Love (Broadway’s The Color Purple) plays the left-behind Effie, who she describes as “a fun, sassy, spunky young lady who’s misunderstood. She’s a product of her environment as far as learning how to accept herself instead of what society tells you what’s acceptable.” Love also gets to deliver the show-stopper “And I Am Telling You I’m Not Going” for the closing performance this Sunday night.

7:30 p.m. Sundays. The Hobby Center, 800 Bagby. For information, call 713-558-8887 or visit $46.50 to $135.

Margaret Downing, Steve Jansen, Katricia Lang, Susie Tommaney and Vic Shuttee contributed to this post.
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