Best of Cleveland 2011: Arts & Entertainment

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Best Hip-Hop Club

Earth Nightclub

Earth is one of the best reasons to head to the Flats these days. DJs spin a mad mix of rap classics and club favorites every weekend, and the dance floor is always throbbing with a sweaty mass of bodies. Earth also throws some of the best theme parties in town, ranging from the annual Mardi Gras bash to something called I Love School Girls.

1295 Old River Rd.; 216-816-4418;

Best Comedy Club


Located inside Pickwick & Frolic, this popular comedy club features a mix of funny legends and hilarious up-and-comers. Because Hilarities is part of the bustling East Fourth Street district, shows are always packed with laughing crowds. And the place is roomy enough so you don't have to be in the line of fire of any comedians who use their audience for target practice.

2035 East Fourth St.; 216-736-4242;

Best Gay-Lesbian Bar


There's an unmistakable sense of community at Twist, which gets people together for weekly game nights, dance lessons, karaoke, and happy hours. But Twist is also one of the city's most energetic dance clubs, with some of the best DJs spinning nonstop party mixes that will leave you all hot and sweaty on the floor.

11633 Clifton Blvd.; 216-221-2333;

Best Outdoor Concert Venue

Blossom Music Center

There's no better place to kick back on the lawn and soak in summer's warm rays while listening to live music than at this venerable amphitheater, which has hosted everyone from local favorites Michael Stanley Band to global stars Radiohead. Blossom is also home to the Cleveland Orchestra every summer, just in case al fresco classical music is your thing. But it's the steady stream of classic rockers, jam bands, and country stars who've made Blossom a summertime favorite since the '70s.

1145 West Steels Corners Rd., Cuyahoga Falls; 330-920-8040;

Best Club for Underground Sounds

Grog Shop

The Grog Shop supported indie rock long before people started calling it indie rock. Whether it's an upcoming local band playing its first-ever CD-release show or underground legends like J Mascis gracing the stage with his old classics, the Grog proves that you don't have to sell a ton of records to fill a room. Plus, no other club in town ensures your future bragging rights if a band eventually hits it big.

2785 Euclid Hts. Blvd., Cleveland Heights; 216-321-5588;

Best Karaoke Bar

Tina's Nite Club

You know how some bars host karaoke once, maybe twice a week? Not at Tina's. You can sing "Don't Stop Believin'" every freakin' night of the week here! From the outside, Tina's looks like the kind of place where fights break out a few nights a week. But step inside this glorious dive bar, and you'll quickly make friends over your off-key renditions of Jimmy Buffett and Toby Keith favorites.

5400 Herman Ave.; 216-651-8057

Best Gentlemen's Club

Diamond Men's Club

Diamond (which also has clubs in Canton and Rootstown) offers the usual titillating action onstage seven days a week. But they also serve food, host porn stars, and beam UFC events on big-ass screens. Of course, you're not going to a strip club to eat steak and watch a bunch of douchebags pummel each other, are you? Nope. You're there to see hot ladies take off their clothes. And there's plenty of that going on.

1628 Fall St.; 216-621-1840;

Best Jukebox

Spitfire Saloon

Not so surprisingly, one of Cleveland's best punk-rock bars features a jukebox loaded with punk-rock classics. We're talking Black Flag. We're talking the Clash. We're talking just about any band that ever hoisted a middle finger and yelled "Oi!" into the microphone.

1539 West 117th St.; 216-226-7748;

Best Record Label

Cellar Door Records

The indie-minded Cellar Door (which started as a coffee shop) has shut down and restarted a couple times over the past decade. But they recently released their third Cleveland compilation, featuring some of the city's best artists, including the Modern Electric, Humble Home, and Tom Evanchuck. Good news: Cellar Door is supposedly amping up for a more steady release schedule in the future.

Best Visual Artist

Mallorie Freeman

Cleveland native Mallorie Freeman is known for finely wrought, dramatic drawings and monoprints that — in the words of Scene art critic Douglas Max Utter — often go "straight for the mannered gusto of noir," displaying "a wakeful, sensitive, and sometimes profound take on the realities and fantasies of a tired world." She has shown her work extensively throughout the region, including 2010 shows at Asterisk and Proximity galleries. Her newest works are on display now through April 6 at Lava Lounge in Tremont, in an exhibition titled Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea.