MY ADVENTURES AT THE UNIVERSITY OF MICHIGAN, ANN ARBOR
When my son calls to ask if I'd like to watch him perform Bhangra at the Michigan Dance marathon on March 28th, I nearly choke on my Cosmopolitan. Not that I haven't been badgering him about a weekend I can visit, when the team performs at campus. This would allow me to see both where (and how) he lives as well as catch a bhangra performance at the same time. It's just that it's finally stopped raining in the Bay Area, the sun is shining, the cherry blossoms are blooming and I'm reclining poolside, enjoying the high 70s temperature. I sneak a quick look at the weather forecast for Ann Arbor on my handy-dandy I-phone. Temperatures for the next few days range from a high of (Brrr) 38 degrees to a low of 20 degrees. "Sure, beta," I manage to croak, downing my drink in one big gulp. Two weeks later, my daughter and I are on our way to catch University of Michigan's 'Dance Mix 2013'. Dance Mix bills itself as an organization that unifies a diverse array of student-run performance groups to celebrate the art of dance. I can testify to that. We sat through about twenty stellar performances ranging from tap to modern to multicultural. Finally, it was time for Michigan Bhangra team, or MBT, as it is fondly referred to, to perform. MBT prides itself on it's energy, both on and off the stage, while striving to promote Punjabi culture and the importance of diversity. Thunderous applause filled the auditorium as MBT took it's final bow. It was one of those magical Kodak moments all biased moms (including me) talk about, with tears shining in their eyes.
The date and time of Dance Mix 2013 coincided with the University of Michigan's NCAA basketball game against University of Kansas. Just as Dance Mix ended, the doors of the auditorium flew open, unleashing a stampede of kids, wanting to view the last few minutes of the game on the TV monitors in the lobby. Michigan won the game and the auditorium exploded. Hundreds upon hundreds, cheer upon cheer, respounding and swelling through the night air. Oh, I wish you could have seen and heard it!
Not everyone in the auditorium was a student either. Livability.com ranked Ann Arbor, home of University of Michigan, No. 9 on it's third annual list of top college towns. "Nearly one of every two residents here is a student, making it a true college town," the Livability ranking states. "But you don't have to be a student to enjoy what the University has to offer. There is a range of musical, theater, and dance productions that anyone can attend." According to the article, Ann Arbor's "mix of restaurants, bars, local shops, art museums and parks" are what makes it applealing to both students and locals. So true. As a food snob, I frequently find that the quality of restaurants decline as I leave the gastronomic-driven SF-Bay Area. Not so in Ann Arbor. Logan Restaurant, Pacific Rim and Sava's to name a few, have the kind of upscale ambience and sophisticated menu that would give many a restaurant in San Francisco a run for it's money. And as a bonus, they're open late to accomodate the typical collegiate's late-night cravings!
As for the weather that weekend...pffft! It was an easy, breezy 60 degrees. And Ann Arbor residents were out in droves, walking the campus, jogging, soaking the sunshine in parks and out door patios.