Making the most out of spring break in CU area

By Jim Vorel

So you’re stuck in Champaign-Urbana for spring break. Well, things could be worse. You could be stuck in a much more boring town than the college setting that students of the University enjoy. Many students don’t appreciate just how much Champaign-Urbana has to offer, and a spring break spent in town with no classes is the perfect time to acquaint oneself with the places you may never have encountered.

Luckily for you, there are a plethora of exciting events happening over the break that just may help you forget about your friends currently lying intoxicated on a beach in Mexico, surrounded by scantily-clad senors and senoritas. At least when they get back, you’ll have a few things to tell them you did while they were away.

March 17: Produce a short film.

The Illini Union begins its call for submissions to its yearly short film festival March 17 and finishes April 2. Signups can be found at Room 227 of the Illini Union. The mostly empty campus would be a perfect place to film an under-10 minute short film during the break. How about a film about a group of students staying in Champaign for spring break? More information can be found at http://the217.com/events/view/2008/02/25/2464.

March 18: The box-office phenomena monster movie “Cloverfield” is playing at the Virginia Theater in Champaign at 7 p.m.

For those who have never seen a show at the Virginia Theater, it is a must. Like an IMAX screen without the dizzying vertigo that accompanies climbing sloped stairs, the Virginia truly does major films justice. The “Cloverfield” screening should also serve as an excuse for anyone in town who has never been to the Virginia to become familiar with the theater, which has stood since 1921 and blends the aesthetics of the Golden Age of Hollywood with the amenities of the modern world. Anyone who saw “Cloverfield” when it was first released can attest to the disorienting camera work, which should look even more immersive on the Virginia’s 56-foot-wide, 23-foot-high screen. This one may not be for those with a weak stomach.

March 19: Irish Traditional Music Session at Bentley’s Pub

So, this past week was Unofficial, and the campus once again trotted out its green things and pretended to be “Irish” for a day. Judging by the number of people I saw out at the bars and walking around campus in green, there are an awful lot of fans of the Emerald Isle out there. Perhaps then, it might interest you that every Wednesday from 7-10 p.m., Bentley’s, a small bar located at 419 N. Neil St. in Champaign, plays host to live traditional Irish music. Champaign men and women gather up their Irish instruments, guitars, fiddles, bodhrans (an Irish drum), accordions and concertinas, and come sit a spell at Bentley’s to bust out a few Irish jigs, reels and airs.

March 22: British Sea Power and The 1900s at the Canopy Club, 9 p.m.

This show, for the unbelievably small sum of $8 at the Canopy Club, is reason enough to stay in Champaign for spring break all by itself. British Sea Power is a quartet of boys from, you guessed it, England, and is one of the faster-rising names in the indie-rock/post-punk genre. The 1900s, calling their genre “psychedelic pop,” have become one of the hottest and most respected young bands in Chicago, having recently released their first full-length album, “Cold and Kind”. They have toured with the likes of Iron & Wine and played at this year’s Lollapalooza in Chicago, but have yet to garner as much attention outside of the city.

I wouldn’t expect that to last much longer, as the band is a whirling powerhouse of funky rhythms, gorgeous harmony and that x-factor that will have you humming all the songs to yourself for days afterwards.

So there you have it. All the fun of a week off of school without the threat of being stranded in a foreign country or arrested on Miami Beach for lewd behavior.