Not everything about 2016 sucked; here are some highlights

Zeke

Zeke Elliott set AstroTurf — and Instagram — aflutter with his amazing play and infectious personality;

 

One thing we know about 2016: It was the year they never stopped sucking. From shootings to elections to celebrity deaths that all but exhausted everyone emotionally, the year was one horror show after another… although there were some memorable moments that did not revolve around Russian hacking or feeling like we are living “The Day the Music Died.”

Turnover — turmoil or progress in local arts groups. The Dallas Summer Musicals canned longtime leader Michael Jenkins, the Dallas Symphony Orchestra announced the impending departure of music director Japp Van Zweden, the Dallas Museum of Art landed a new executive director (Agustin Arteaga) … and that was just the first half of the year. Add Jubilee’s new AD, and new leadership as well at WaterTower Theatre, Theatre 3, Upstart Productions, the shuttering of Contemporary Theatre of Dallas and a new home for Kitchen Dog, and upheaval generally in Dallas arts… but the additions may bear fruit in 2017 to show that change is inevitable and even positive.

Oak Lawn food scene blossoms. In about a year, tons of new restaurants opened in the gayborhood (while others closed): 18th & Vine, Sprezza, Zephyr, Street’s Fine Chicken, Tacos y Mas and Cedar Grove have all made their mark in the eating-out scene. (For more on the influence of the local food scene, see our Top Tables of the year, Page 14.)

PokemonGO becomes “a thing.”  In the days following the tragic police shooting, many Texas nerds lost themselves in an alternate world where Pokemon is real and can be found out and about. The interactive game caught on like West Texas brushfire and was inescapable for months.

How ‘bout dem ‘Boys? Can we all finally agree that Tony Romo has been vastly overrated? With two standout rookies on the starting lineup this season — opening QB Dak Prescott and league-leading rusher Ezekiel Elliott, plus wide receiver Dez Bryant — the Dallas Cowboys had their best season since the glory days of Troy Aikman, Emmitt Smith and Michael Irvin. It’s been a while since professional sports in North Texas have focused on football instead of baseball and basketball, and we’re glad to see the ’Boys back.

Lemonade. Not the album, not the video, but all of it — Beyonce’s smartly marketed concept album, CD, tour and controversy about all it really meant had people talking about pop music in a way they rarely do anymore. (See about the Year in Music, above)

Easter (Back) in the Park. After a disastrous year when the festival in Lee Park didn’t happen, folks got their act together in 2016 and brought it back, better than ever.

Angels return to Uptown. The Dallas Theater Center famously staged both parts of Tony Kushner’s Pulitzer Prize- and Tony Award-winning play Angels in America at the Kalita Humphreys Theater in 1996… only to have subscribers balk at the shocking frankness and political currency about the Reagan Era, AIDS and hypocrisy. Now, 20 years later, Uptown Players — now also in the Kalita — started Part One (Part Two should come next season) in November … without controversy, and powerfully performed, proof that the play remains relevant on the brink of Drumpfworld.

The ilume gallerie closes, and the property changes ownership… to the dismay of many. Developer Luke Crosland sold his ilume and ilumePark properties, and before long, the complaints were numerous, and even the ilume gallerie — one of the first tenants, and a continuous supporter of local charities — shut down, sending many who enjoyed the hub of gay life to gripe.

Deep Ellum roars back online. Deep Ellum was a center of cultural growth in the 1990s, fell off in the 2000s, and started to come back in the 2010s, but last year seems like a watershed of new clubs, restaurants, businesses, traffic and energy.

Superqueeroes. Two shows, on two different networks, both had major characters (Penguin on Gotham and Kara’s spymaster sister on Supergirl) come out as gay.

— Arnold Wayne Jones

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition January 6, 2017