Hockey Is Coming To Seattle!

 The Northgate neighborhood will be the future home of the NHL practice rink.  Photo credit .

The Northgate neighborhood will be the future home of the NHL practice rink. Photo credit.

The Seattle area has been waiting for an expansion team for some time now. Granted, the wait has specifically been for an NBA franchise to replace our beloved SuperSonics, and apparently no such franchise is on the way yet. For people who just love sports and want more local teams though, there was good news this week. Seattle is getting an NHL expansion team, and it could be actively competing as soon as the 2020-21 season. Naturally, there are a few things to talk about! 

How It Happened

Basically, when the Las Vegas Knights became the 31st team in the NHL, it was more or less a given that one more team would be added. The league’s Board of Governors, under commissioner Gary Bettman, considered bids, and ultimately gave the prospective Seattle ownership and development group the go ahead to pursue a $650 million bid back in December of last year. Since then the idea has been further deliberated, and the Seattle group more or less proved the concept, resulting in an official acceptance of the bid. The city now has a guaranteed expansion team, to be the 32nd active team in the NHL, and can begin the process of putting together an organization and massively renovating KeyArena, where the new team will play its home games. 

The Team Name

This is the fun part early on. For sports fans, in fact, it’s almost inexplicably enjoyable to speculate about the possible names of a brand new franchise. The internet is already debating name candidates, with names like the Emeralds, Totems, Evergreens, and Kraken believed to be some of the most likely choices. The long shot, but one which has actually come out on top in some fan polls online, would be the Seattle Sockeyes, a name paying homage to local salmon. Here’s hoping whatever the pick is, it’s something that sounds original and embraces the setting of Seattle and its surroundings. 

Perfect Timing

As something of an aside to the team itself, it’s worth noting that the 2020-21 season may be perfect timing for the state to maximize potential revenue, not just from the team but from gambling activity. Sports betting is spreading across the U.S., and there are already resources taking stock of bookmaking options that are available or will soon be in the country. This will make an impact across the American sporting scene, but with tech expected to drive the budding betting industry, and Seattle being near the forefront of most every significant tech movement, we can probably expect to see a lot of fun activity in this arena.

The Team Setup

From this point forward, the Seattle organization will assemble itself with an eye toward replicating the immediate success of the Vegas Knights under the NHL’s favorable expansion draft rules. This means the ownership group building up their management and coaching team, an ex-coach-turned-adviser named Dave Tippett analyzing players that could potentially be brought to Seattle, and most of all the aforementioned arena renovation. There’s a lot to be done, but the team - even before it has any players - has already begun setting itself up for success. 

NBA Next?

Unfortunately, no. This isn’t relevant to the NHL team, but because a lot of people will immediately begin wondering if this means the NBA will come to town next, it should be mentioned that the two are really almost entirely unrelated. It could be that if KeyArena looks suitable for basketball and the Seattle hockey team does very well from a revenue standpoint that professional basketball eventually gives the city another look. But Seattle has already proven in the past that it has a passion for basketball, so really it feels like the hold up is more on the NBA’s side of things.

Recap: Infinity Mirrors at SAM

Unless you have been living under a rock for the past year, you probably have heard about the incredible new exhibit at the Seattle Art Museum, Infinity Mirrors by Yayoi Kusama. The exhibit opened last June to quite the fanfare, and after checking it out for ourselves it is easy to see why. The colorful, fun, whimsical art exhibit is absolutely mesmorizing. We should preface by saying that we know nothing about art. We literally have zero idea what things mean and can't tell you the difference between conceptual art and contemporary art, but we do know when we like something. And we like Infinity Mirrors.

Infinity Mirrors

Yayoi Kusama is an 88 year old Japanese artist and writer. Her work has spanned many mediums including sculpture, paintings, performance art, and environmental installations. Her works focuses on bright colors and repetitive patterns, which you definitely see throughout Infinity Mirrors. She also has crazy, bright, colored hair (sometimes red, sometimes orange, sometimes blue) making her the coolest 88 year old around. 

 An image of the artist, Yayoi Kusama, painted outside of the SAM

An image of the artist, Yayoi Kusama, painted outside of the SAM

The Infinity Mirrors exhibit consists of four rooms. Each room is filled with  different objects including: pumpkins, twinkle lights, polka dot tubers, and hanging pink globes. The mirrors that hang in the rooms make each feel like the objects go on forever. There is also an obliteration room, which is decorated entirely in white furniture. All guests receive a set of colorful dot stickers and are encouraged to place them anywhere they like. Over time, the room becomes filled with these colorful dots allowing the guests to help contribute to the art. There are also art sculptures, light boxes, paintings, and video displayed throughout the exhibit. We promise, you'll be plenty stimulated as you wander around.

According to the artist, she is interested in understanding the relationship between people, society, and nature. Not sure if that will translate for everyone who visits, but that is what art is all about we suppose.

In other news, selfies are allowed! Snap away and post to Instagram stat! 

Infinity Mirrors
 The twinkle light room and the polka dot tubers room

The twinkle light room and the polka dot tubers room

Now for the logistics! Tickets to the event are sold out. However! The museum is letting in a certain number of people per day and you can sign up in the mornings for a time slot. We got in line at 9 AM. We had to wait an hour until the museum opened at 10am, but we were easily able to snag an open spot for any time the rest of the day. The only time slot that was filled when we got to the front of the line was the 10 AM spot. Once you get your time slot for the exhibit, you need to line up outside the exhibit 15 minutes before your start time, and you should expect to take an hour and a half to get through all the rooms in the exhibit. The lines to each room definitely look and feel a bit long, but there are lines for a reason - trust!  Once you are allowed in (they let in groups of two or three depending on the room), you get 20-30 seconds per room. It's quick, we recommend really trying to soak it all up and then snap a photo at the end if you feel you have time. You're going to wait a long time for those 30 seconds, so make sure to get the most out of them!

There is also a small Kusama gift shop located in the exhibit so you can take home a souvenir.

 The Obliteration Room

The Obliteration Room

Infinity Mirrors is only open until September 10th, which leaves you three weeks to go see it! If you do go, report back. We want to know what you thought. Also, if you plan to head to Tokyo any time soon, Kusama will be opening a five story museum featuring her artwork (including Infinity Mirrors!). The museum will open on October 1, 2017. 

 Rain or Shine Guides takes on Infinity Mirrors! 

Rain or Shine Guides takes on Infinity Mirrors! 



The Nutcracker: Ballet vs. Burlesque


Everyone knows about the Nutcracker. Even if you haven't seen the famous ballet you probably know the music or the general story. It is a Christmas tradition and one of the most recognizable decorations during the holiday season. This year we decided to put two interpretations of the story to the test.

So..which is more entertaining? The traditional Nutcracker, performed as a ballet, or the more... shall we say... "risqué" Nutcracker, performed as a burlesque show? 

 George Balanchine's Nutcracker with the PNW Ballet, Image credit: Pacific Northwest Ballet 

George Balanchine's Nutcracker with the PNW Ballet, Image credit: Pacific Northwest Ballet 

George Balanchine's Nutcracker 

The Pacific Northwest Ballet has been putting on The Nutcracker every year for the past three decades. It is a tradition for many families to go each year and experience the childish magic that brings to life the dancing candy canes, mice, and best of all, the Sugar Plum Fairy.

Last year big news struck Seattle. The Nutcracker that Seattle had grown to love over the last 30 years, by Maurice Sendak and Kent Stowell, would be getting a face lift. This year's performance is completely updated with sets and costumes by Ian Falconer and George Balanchine's classic choreography. From what we can tell it is brighter, more cheerful, but just as beautiful as always. 

We were lucky enough to have some very young, female commentary coming from the row behind our seats. This added to the story of Clara dreaming of her perfect world. We heard "Ohhhh here comes the peacock, she is my faaavorite." and our personal favorite, as the candies danced, one little girl exclaimed in envy "I wish I had a lot of sugar right now!" Something tells me her parents don't give her lots of sugar for good reason. 

With talented and beautiful dancers on center stage, don't forget to take in the beautiful set decorations and costumes. It truly all adds up to an incredible event. When the curtain drops at the end of the night you will feel like you have just woken up from a dream. Make sure your dreamy state doesn't keep you from cheering loudly, they definitely earn the applause. 

 Land of the Sweets: The Burlesque Nutcracker at the Triple Door, Image credit: The Triple Door

Land of the Sweets: The Burlesque Nutcracker at the Triple Door, Image credit: The Triple Door

Land of the Sweets: The Burlesque Nutcracker

What can we say? We love a good burlesque show. The Triple Door puts on a variety of shows throughout the year, but the Nutcracker is definitely a crowd favorite. For those of you who haven't been to one of these shows, we seriously encourage it. It's fun, outrageous, and surprisingly tasteful.

The storytelling is definitely a little loose, the clothing is even looser, but the talent and the beauty is there. Oh, and beware, the glitter and stagecraft is through the roof. 

At the ballet you see very little diversity, even in a city as progressive and open minded as Seattle, ballerina's are just a certain build and predominately white. What we love when you see a show put on by Lily Verlaine and Jasper McCann is it's guaranteed to pay tribute to all shapes and sizes. Male, female, black, white, big and small, it is a homage to the people of our city and the fun-loving energy that many of us love to feel a part of.

 Taking in both versions of the show

Taking in both versions of the show

So who wins this face off? Can we cheat and call it a tie? Even if they are the same "story" we admit, we have really been comparing apples and oranges this whole time. If you want a magical and fancy night out, the PNB's Nutcracker is absolutely worth the ticket price. If you want a sexy and laughable evening, go with The Triple Door's Land of Sweets

Pacific Northwest Ballet Insider Tip: You can preorder your drinks for intermission before the show starts. This way, when hundreds of people are lining up for another glass, yours is sitting ready for you on a table to the side, no extra charge! 

The Triple Door Insider Tip: Arrive early and eat/drink in the lounge, not the theatre. The menu has more options and it is wayyyyyy cheaper! 

Get Your Beer on This Winter

Winter Beer Festivals in Seattle

According to the Old Farmer’s Almanac, our Pacific Northwest winter this year is set to be colder and rainier than usual, with more snow than in recent years. While I usually cozy up with a heavy red wine or a spiced-up eggnog cocktail, I also enjoy beer. In particular, heavy winter beers like the ones found at the Winter Beer Fest held in early December each year at Magnuson Park’s Hangar 30.

As I wandered the festive booths sipping barrel-aged beauties, I realized there are several other good beer festivals on the horizon. If you missed the Winter Beer Fest, look forward to these gatherings and get them on your 2017 radar:

Belgian Fest Seattle, WA

Belgian Fest

Fisher Pavilion-Seattle Center, 2017 Date TBD – Usually late January

About $35

Second only to the Winter Beer Fest on my favorites list, this is a wonderful opportunity to try Belgian and Belgian-styled ales: Tripels, Dubbels, Saisons, Wits, Abbeys, and Lambics. All the ales use Belgian yeast and there are plenty of Sours to try as well. 100+ beers to try AND food trucks? Yes, please!

Cask Fest Seattle, WA

Washington Cask Beer Festival

Seattle Center Exhibition Hall, Seattle WA, March 25th 2017

About $40

A long-running and very popular beer event held at the Seattle Center, the Cask Beer Festival focuses on cask-conditioned beers brewed by more than 40 Washington Brewers Guild members. According to the Guild site the event “features only beers that are conditioned naturally, without artificially introducing CO2 into the cask. Beers are poured by gravity or via a beer engine and served at cellar temp to let the flavor nuances shine.” This one tends to sell out each year, so scoop up tickets as soon as you can.

 Past event photo

Past event photo

Seattle Scotch & Beer Fest (Formerly Hop Scotch)

Fremont Studios, April 14-15, 2017

Ticket prices vary

Ok, so it happens in the spring and also includes Scotch (who’s complaining) and wine (even better), but this stellar event is a benefit for the Fremont Chamber of Commerce’s community grant programs. Funded programs include The Fremont Fair and the Solstice Parade. Want to keep Fremont weird AND train your palate? Come on out to this tasting experience.

Pro Tip: Love Washington Beer? Join WABL, the Washington Beer Lovers group. Members often receive extra tokens, WABL lounge access, or exclusive tastings at WA beer events. Membership also comes with a t-shirt, a WABL passport to collect brewery stamps, newsletters with news and event info, and a free annual subscription to SIP Magazine. What a great gift idea for the beer lover in your life (or just yourself?) for only $30!


Amy L. Dickson is a communications professional, freelance writer, and contributor to Rain or Shine Guides. She’s currently training at the NW Wine Academy for her Level 1 sommelier certification. Follow her at @amyldickson75.