Cheap Nights Out

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metIn which Bwogger Armin Rosen shows first-years how to break out of Morningside without breaking the bank.

New York’s expensive, but the cheap bastards among you are in luck. Yes, New York’s notorious cigarette taxes mean that smokers will have to do a little pinching—or, better still, quit smoking altogether. And although $6.50 might seem a little steep for a sandwich, the tenth punch of a Ham Del Gold Card and its attendant free hero drops the price to a slightly more reasonable $5.90 something. Even then, it’s possible to subsist off of club pizza, the Wednesday night vegetarian potluck, various Hillel events, and post-conference wine and cheese receptions (IAB 15 is a goldmine, by the way…).

But what if subsistence just isn’t enough for you? As freshmen will soon discover, a night away from campus does wonders for your mental health. And luckily, New York is one city where parsimony needn’t keep you in. What follows are a few suggestions for how to have a good time even if you’re not dropping Franklins.

Take in some culture: Whether you have a favorite Rossini tenor or are just grubbing for cultural capital, there’s little classier than a night at the opera. With new Metropolitan Opera general manager Peter Gelb ongoing campaign to broaden his company’s appeal, there’s also little in New York that’s cheaper: the lower-level standing room is an affordable $20, while the stratospheric Family Circle is only $15 on weeknights. And speaking of Rossini, this blogger highly recommends checking out the Met’s revival of last year’s brilliant new production of Barber of Seville. doesn’t offer a huge variety of $5 theatre tickets, but it can surprise from time to time (it once got me into the Blue Man Group for free). If you’re of open mind and shallow pocket, you should also check out some Off-off Broadway—PS 122 and The Brick are excellent, sub-$20-a-show venues, although anything off-off is bound to at least be, umm, interesting. And as the back page of just about every Playbill in town will probably remind you, acoustically-perfect Carnegie Hall has $10 student rush tickets.

blueGo to a concert:
While even the beloved Knitting Factory can ask an exorbitant $15-20 for a main-space show, a glut of cheap and mind-expanding venues has sprung up in its place. For $5, John Zorn’s experimental jazz club The Stone will school you in music the likes of which you probably didn’t know existed. For less than that, Luna Lounge, Union Hall, Arlene’s Grocery, Glasslands and literally dozens of other places will clue you into New York’s vast independent rock scene.

But by far the best cheap venue is Harlem’s St. Nick’s Pub. Quality downtown jazz rooms like Smalls have turned into swingers’ clubs for the yuppified West Village set, but the small and usually-packed St. Nick’s gives a damn about the music—and has a ludicrously low (and seldom-enforced) $3 cover charge. The Saturday night Afro-jazz jam, which usually concludes at around 3 or 4 in the morning, is highly recommended.

statenRide the
Staten Island ferry: When this blogger graduates sometime in the middle of the next decade, he fears that this turd-shaped isle, which was gerrymandered into New York City for reasons unknown, will be the only affordable place left in the city. Yet aside from offering a horrifying glimpse of the future, the cheapest date in New York promises impressive views of the Statue of Liberty, Ellis Island and the lower Manhattan skyline, as well as access to Staten’s myriad attractions. The Yankees! Fresh Kills! The Ship graveyard! Why Staten Island is an undiscovered gem—although this blogger won’t blame you if you take your boy/girlfriend/bottle of Georgi and drag yourself back to Manhattan.

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  1. No smoking

    Hmmm, is 'quit smoking' really good advice, considering nobody on campus smokes? Except maybe the SOA

    I'll bet ol' Armin is really trying to prove to the prefrosh how 'cool' he is.

    Try again.

  2. also  

    Health Services (like NY State) is offering free patches/gum starting this fall; I think you just have to meet with someone first.

  3. good times  

    What about student rush for Broadway shows? 25$ isn't exactly cheap, but it's a hell of a lot better than 115! And I saw Evil Dead, the Musical for like 20$, 4th row center. You just have to be persistent.

  4. Anonymous

    what do we care if franklin, that philandering show-off, gets dropped!

    we are columbians! only should we care if we drop our dear hamiltons.

  5. dept. resources

    Don't forget: Barnard Dance dept usually has tickets to certain shows (i.e. Fall for Dance) or knows of discounts (Dance Theatre Workshop).

    The theatre dept. might be the same way.

    Miller Theatre also has a great student discount. Just $7 for a show.

  6. High 5 warning

    Word to the wise, High 5 is only for 18 and under...its a great program, but designed for the high school set

    so use your ids with caution...fortunately they don't really check...

  7. A word from the wise

    As someone who has done the $15 family circle standing room at the Met, I would like to point out that the average opera is about 3 HOURS long, and that the standing room ushers are fascists and would not let a child who was too short to see over the chest-high wall stand in the aisle so she could see, much less allow us to sit down in the empty seats (the family circle was half-filled that tuesday night) for the second act.

    I would most definitely encourage going to the opera, but if you plan ahead, you can get student priced SEATS for about $25. You will have to get these a bit in advance, but being able to sit makes all the difference.

  8. Terminology checker

    Who the hell refers to $100 bills as “Franklins”? It’s all about the BENJAMINS, baby...

  9. tipster

    Manhattan School of Music, two blocks up Broadway, has tons of recitals, master classes, and some concerts that are free and open to the public.

  10. Seth

    Staten Island wasn't gerrymandered into New York City. gerrymandering refers specifically to the drawing of boundaries for electoral purposes; Staten Island's inclusion in New York City was unrelated to voting or elections.

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