Expert Picks

Here’s What Our Culture Experts Are Doing in May—And You Should, Too!

Ethiopian jazz! Keith Haring! Burgers in a cemetery! Here’s what we’re excited about this month.

Photo by Kenny Rodriguez/Courtesy of House of Yes

The countdown to summer is officially in full effect. You’ll be plenty busy with surreal immersions, Harlem dinners, and tiki dance parties in the weeks leading up to Memorial Day. Are you ready?


Nicola Cruz at Knockdown CenterMay 10
Ecuadorean avant-house DJ Cruz is best known in the niche realm of Latin world beat. His live set at the airplane hangar–size Knockdown Center, produced in association with Latinx media savants Remezcla, should be equal parts rave and succor for the soul. —John Seroff, music expert

Photo courtesy of Nicola Cruz/Facebook

Mulatu Astatke at Le Poisson RougeMay 17 and 18
Astatke’s unique blend of jazz mixes traditional Ethiopian music, Latin pop, Western bop, and avant-garde improvisation into an inspirationally multiethnic funk jam that’s proved to be a powerful international musical force for more than half a century. American sets by the maestro are few and far between, and, given his advanced age, any opportunity to see him live is a golden ticket. John Seroff, music expert


“Brainwave: Power” at the Rubin Museum of Artthrough May 31
Tim McHenry never disappoints in his fantastic curation for Brainwave, a series exploring how the mind works in everyday life. Each spring he chooses a larger theme to respond to with “onstage conversations between neuroscientists and notable personalities, films, and immersive visitor experiences.” This year the theme is power—could there be anything more fitting for our time? Molly Surno, art expert 

Photo courtesy of Rubin Museum of Art/Facebook


Dine in Harlem: Melba’sMay 15
Melba Wilson has seen her fair share of history in her community, being “born, bred, and buttered in Harlem.” She collaborates with the chef from Washington, D.C.’s Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture, Jerome Grant, for a culinary exploration of the African-American diaspora during the one-seating-only dinner for Harlem Eat Up! Jess Bender, dining and drinking expert 

Photo courtesy of Harlem Eat Up! Festival

Burgers, Bourbon & Beethoven at Green-Wood CemeteryMay 25
The trifecta of Bs comes together for a sophisticated blowout in Brooklyn’s Green-Wood Cemetery. Eat a few mean sliders from Burger Club, drink some straight bourbon, and listen to Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony when the sun goes down in the borough. Jess Bender, dining and drinking expert 

Photo courtesy of Kevin Condon/Courtesy of Green-Wood Cemetery


Keith Haring’s Boys Club Mural at Pioneer Worksthrough May 12
I have a personal relationship with this work by Haring: It graced the entrance of the hospital where I gave birth (unexpectedly two months early), and I was greeted by this expansive mural every time I visited my newborn in the ICU. Pioneer Works has acquired the original 20-by-20-foot mural, which weighs 40,000 pounds and will be on view through—appropriately enough—Mother’s Day. Molly Surno, art expert 

Photo courtesy of Pioneer Works/Facebook


The Pain of My Belligerencethrough May 12
Sardonic, button pushing, and utterly fearless, playwright Halley Feiffer has been carving out a career for dark comedies that go there for nearly a decade. This one follows the long and torturous relationship between a crackerjack reporter and a charming married man. David Cote, theater expert

Photo by Joan Marcus/Courtesy of Playwrights Horizons

Rainier FallsMay 18
In what seems to be a spoof of Twin Peaks, get ready to enter Rainier Falls, a fictional town in which a dozen audience members are guests at a housewarming party. Surrealism, dark humor, site-specific performances, and coffee are promised. Ross Tipograph, performance expert

Photo courtesy of Harlow Fowler/Facebook


Oscar at the Crown, May 10–26
The Neon Coven, a queer theater group, stages this revamp of its immersive musical in Bushwick. Societal outsiders have been pushed to the margin; watch as they sing about Oscar Wilde, The OC, and a variety of Real Housewives. Ross Tipograph, performance expert

Tiki Kiki at House of YesMay 24
A theatrical re-creation of the classic cheesy basement luau party is afoot. “Sparkling summer vibes and sexy sunshine silliness” are promised at this event, where you can wander through a forest, stand under huge flowers, find coconuts and fruit, and then dance the night away. Ross Tipograph, performance expert

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