The winter holiday season is as much about tradition as it is about twinkling lights and shopping, from the Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree and the Rockettes to The Nutcracker and as many versions of Handel’s Messiah as there are ways to count ’em–plus a full menu of classics on TV and at the movies. If you’re craving a break from the old chestnuts, these less-traditional alternatives to the holiday hit parade might be just the kind of merry you’re looking to make.
From the swarms of tourists, long lines at stores, and increased prices on everything from theater tickets to cocktails, the holidays in New York can be more of a headache than anything. But fear not–there are plenty more ways to get festive other than battling the crowds at Rockefeller Center or paying an arm and a leg to see the Rockettes. 6sqft has rounded up a dozen alternative events, including a sexy rendition of the Nutcracker, an exhibit of Santa’s history in NYC, a latke festival, and a special Kwanzaa dance performance.
What started out as a simple idea for composer Phil Kline has became a beloved holiday tradition in New York. A fan of cassette tapes, Phil had been composing pieces for boomboxes when he wrote a holiday-themed piece set on four tracks to be played simultaneously on several boomboxes. In 1992, he gathered a group of New Yorkers for a modern take on caroling in which they walked down lower Fifth Avenue with boomboxes playing his piece. The performance was a resounding success and a yearly seasonal event known as Unsilent Night was set in motion.
A little over two decades since that first performance, Unsilent Night has grown in magnitude and now draws a crowd of several hundred who still use a few boomboxes that are interspersed among a sea of smartphones. It has has been adopted by cities around the world, but even with this international recognition it finds its way back home each year. Phil is currently preparing for his 24th New York performance on Saturday, December 12th, so with the event a week away, 6sqft spoke to Phil to learn about his love of boomboxes, the idea behind Unsilent Night, and how one evening 23 years ago has become an annual holiday musical tradition.