We didn't know what to make of this place when it popped up last year right down the street from Cecil's. With that graveyard mural on the front and a name like Resurrection, it had to be a goth club, right? Not quite. The title refers to the revival of the after-hours scene, and those tombstones bear the names of former H-town come-down spots (like Therapy and Hyperia), as well as those of long-gone party hounds (like Timothy Leary and Elvis). Inside, thumping music washes over the dance floor and its adjacent chill-out rooms, where you'll find black lights, glow sticks and a projector pumping out porn. This joint doesn't really get jumping until after 3 a.m., right after the drunken fools pass out and the real partyers show up, so be a good scout and come prepared.
Readers' choice: Katz's Deli & Bar
Sure, it's a no-brainer. But you have to hand it to Stanton Welch for putting this company back on a streamlined track that just keeps moving upward and onward. Tutus off to Welch for Women@Art (the first ever evening of all-women choreographers), for bringing back the Cullen Contemporary Series and for Maina Gielgud's glorious production of Giselle. Welch has made wise promotions among the ranks and continues to challenge the corps to new heights. Having a choreographer at the helm makes all the difference, and what a choreographer we have in Welch. His new batch of works places him on the international "in demand" list. Outstanding ballets by Mark Morris, Julia Adam, Natalie Weir and Trey McIntyre made for an unusually diverse year of dance.
It's no wonder Houston Ballet principal Mireille Hassenboehler graced the cover of the February issue of Pointe Magazine -- she's got star power. Hassenboehler triumphed as the weak-hearted village girl in Maina Gielgud's magnificent production of Giselle, handling the famous "mad scene" with a light but convincing touch. There's a fine line in romantic ballet between high drama and melodrama. Hassenboehler nailed the acting part with considerable finesse as she wandered the stage looking hopelessly lost and forlorn. She managed a beautiful transition from young betrayed girl to ghostly spirit in the second act when she joined Myrtha's evil troupe of Wilis. Other choice roles include Juliet in Ben Stevenson's Romeo and Juliet and the Sugar Plum Fairy.
The Big Easy Social and Pleasure Club
At first glance, the Big Easy's vicelike grip on the category seems too easily clinched. For a city like Houston, with a sizable amount of blues history, there's a surprising paucity of clubs devoted to the genre. The Dead Club Scythe has killed off the little joints (Miss Ann's Playpen, Silky's) and more upscale venues (Billy Blues, Cactus Moon) with equal vengeance. But no one beats the Big Easy for sheer down-home, roadhouse (albeit on Kirby Drive) funkiness. This no-frills venue boasts a dependable list of local blues and blues-rock regulars (Luther & the Healers, Jeremiah Johnson, Rick Lee, the Mighty Orq) as well as Sunday nights reserved for zydeco. Under the auspices of owner and genuine blues fan/harpist Tom McClendon, the large living-room-size club appeals to the chair listeners and the dance-floor bump-and-grinders equally. Plus, most nights have no cover charge -- which leaves you all the more money to spend at the bar, or on the peerless jukebox.
Readers' choice: The Big Easy
Agora
Photo by Craig Hlavaty
Thanks to prefab Starbucks stores on every block, independent coffeehouses are on the decline. Located in a beautiful two-story house in the heart of Montrose, Agora defies all corporate definitions of an exceptional coffeehouse. Six different brews, including organic and exotic roasts and a great Texas pecan, make up the daily selection. Also available: perfectly pulled shots of espresso, foamy cappuccinos and frozen granitas, which are sure to satisfy during the most extreme summer months. The interior's as warm as a log cabin, with an upper mezzanine that's quiet enough for reading or studying, and offers enough action below for those with a wandering eye. There's plenty of literature, magazines and newspapers scattered around for folks to read. And the terrific jukebox is stocked with jazz, international music and good ol' rock and roll.
Readers' choice: Starbucks
Houston Metropolitan Dance Company
The Houston Met is constantly expanding its repertoire toward ever edgier contemporary jazz dance, and innovative dances full of kinetic thrills. You can count on a Met concert being both engaging and wildly entertaining. Director Michelle Smith has been savvy in selecting choreographers; the rep includes works by Robert Battle, Kevin Wynn, Fred Benjamin and Eddie Ocampo. The dancers, mostly young and full of energy, just keep getting stronger. Resident choreographers/dancers Joe Celej, Marlana Walsh and Kiki Lucas also show promise. Their snazzy fusion style should appeal to anyone interested in dance.
Under the guidance of Euripides, one of the oldest playwrights in Western civilization, Charlie Scott, with Infernal Bridegroom Productions, became a directorial force to be reckoned with last season. His mercurial imagination and thrilling intellect shimmered in every aspect of his astonishing adaptation of Euripides's Medea. Scott, who has been an IBP company member since the troupe's inception, has spent most of his time acting for the company. But his dangerously delicious Medea revealed that he's a whole lot more than another pretty face. His fearless production of the tragedy allowed for moments of outrageous humor and heart-twisting pain to reside side by side on a dark stage filled with the strange and the beautiful. It captured the very soul of Euripides's tragedy and made us see once again why those ancient Greeks are so damned important.
Happy hour is a salvation after sitting in a cubicle staring blankly at a computer screen all week. Six Degrees has the medicine to cure your work-weary woes. The lounge hosts the longest happy hour downtown, running from 5 p.m. to 11 p.m. Tuesdays through Fridays, which may not spare you a hangover, but will spare your wallet. Get $2 domestics, $3 wells and a dollar off everything else in an environment that mixes the classical features of a 70-year-old building with a modern, swanky facade. And if you're looking to eye some pretty patrons, Six Degrees won't disappoint.
Readers' choice: Azteca's
Montrose has always been a good place to rubberneck, what with the punks, the goths, the trannies and the street kids (most of which are punks, goths or trannies). But the Art League Houston upped the brake-slamming quotient big-time with Inversion, Dan Havel and Dean Ruck's magically surrealist installation in the organization's former digs. Havel and Ruck stripped the building's outside of its wood and then made a burgeoning tunnel on the inside; it grew from about two feet wide in the back to around 30 in the front. The public response to this work was astounding, and nary a day went by that dozens of people couldn't be seen snapping pictures and crawling through it. Call it middlebrow art: the perfect synthesis of fine-art sensibility and "Gee, that's cool."
When Yolanda Gibbs takes the stage, watch out. She dances like she owns the place, gobbling up space with her downright generous style. Gibbs possesses a rare quality in a dancer, in which her technique serves her artistry. Her pure, natural grace is evident in everything she does. With long limbs and an uber-flexible body, Gibbs elongates movements to the max, appearing to stretch space to its limits. Every move looks larger than life, and her keen sense of rhythm and timing enlivens any choreographer's work. Some dancers wear movement; Gibbs inhabits it. She joined the Sandra Organ Dance Company in 2001, where she is now a full company member.

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