Sports & Recreation
Best alternative to the Friday night club scene
West African dance class
So you want to go out dancing on a Friday night. Why not avoid the slimy, predictable bump-and-grind, and head to CSUS for two hours of dance lessons by the West African Drum and Dance Club? Take off your shoes, pay what you can and prepare to “fly,” a refreshing reference to the dance moves you’ll try desperately to emulate. Desperately, because guest instructor Franchesska Berry-Kokayi moves fast. She’s experienced and seductive and demanding, so unless you’ve gotten your Senegalese swerve on before, your “fly” might look more like a buckshot nose dive. But Franchesska and her husband, Tyehimba Kokayi, also an instructor for the classes, are inviting, and the sweet drummers from Lion’s Den Entertainment will pat you on the back and ask you to come again next week. From 8-10 p.m. Fridays in Yosemite Hall, Room 187 (the women’s gym), CSU Sacramento. Just show up and pay what you can. E.P.
Best area win-win for Anglos and American Indians
Cache Creek Casino Resort
There are other American Indian casinos nearby, but none have just the right je ne sais quoi of deliciously classy decadence like this smashing gamblopolis. That makes what’s billed as Northern California’s best gaming facility also the best facility for local whites to expunge their guilt over the mistreatment of American Indians—and for injun to reap heap big wampum. Owned and operated by the Rumsey Band of Wintun Indians, whose ancient war cry was, “With nine, double if the dealer’s upcard is a two to six,” Cache Creek has evolved from a modest bingo hall into a 415,000-square-foot mega-entertainment complex that includes a 200-room luxury hotel and health spa; eight restaurants; a swingin’ nightclub; an outdoor swimming pool; a casino gift shop; and—natch—a state-of-the-art gaming facility stuffed with 3,100 slots and 142 tables, including 28 solely for poker. Nearly 2,500 employees are required to keep the Creek flowing, and like their tribal bosses, they appreciate your giving back to our land’s very first people, one quarter in the slot machine at a time. 14455 Highway 16, Brooks; (530) 796-3118; (800) 452-8181; www.cachecreek.com. M.C.
Best blood sport for animal lovers
Portuguese bloodless bullfighting
Do we owe Portugal a place in our great Best Of melting pot? What did Portugese culture ever give the Sacramento region besides Richard Pombo? Remember Pombo, the cowboy son of Portuguese immigrants who used every minute of his time in the 11th Congressional District trying to undo the Endangered Species Act? Bah, who needs the Portugese? But wait, there is something, much cooler, and much more humane that our Iberian brothers brought here and that deserves major props. We have the Portugese culture (and, well, the Basque culture, too) to thank for the bloodless bullfighting tradition that still thrives in little valley towns like Thornton and Gustine. The Super Bowl of bloodless bullfighting comes in mid-September during Festa dos Milagres, which celebrates God’s baby’s momma’s protection of the Portugese town of Terceira from Spanish invasion in the 1600s. Since the United States outlawed traditional bullfighting in the 1950s, the Gustine celebration, along with the other organized bullfighting events in the valley, has made a few accommodations. You’ve still got your basic matador vs. bull scenario. But the bullfighter, actually a cavaleiro who fights the bull from horseback, uses Velcro-tipped badarillas that stick to a Velcro-collar around the bull’s neck whenever he is “stabbed.” Sure, it’s still hot and annoying for the bull to be poked at like that. But you’ve got to admire the brass esfereas on that bullfighter, taunting a thousand-pound beast with the equivalent of a nerf sword. For more information about bloodless bullfights, go to www.californiabullfights.org. C.G.
Best Italian greasers
Barber’s Shop Automotive
When you go looking for Barber’s Shop Automotive, don’t expect a large sign above the decaying building to read, “Barber’s Shop Automotive.” Look instead for one that states, “Alfa Romeo.” That’s the fine Italian sports-car brand this shop specializes in repairing, although you’ll often see other generally foreign makes hoisted up in the service bays. If you’ve always wanted an Alfie—and who wouldn’t want to zip along Jackson Highway pretending your scooter’s hugging a winding Mediterranean sea-cliff road?—an info board inside the shop includes for-sale postings from loyal Barber’s customers. First you’ll have to serpentine around a parking lot filled with scooters for sale, Vespas mainly because that keeps the whole Italian ambience thang humming. But the coolest thing ever in front of Barber’s Shop isn’t Italian, but Ukrainian: a vintage Army-green motorcycle with matching sidecar. Abbondanza! 1116 18th Street, (916) 448-6422. M.C.
Best place for a sultry two-step
Del Campo Studio
Nothing will get your partner’s blood boiling like salsa dancing. Let the natural rhythms shake your hips, and the heat is bound to cook up some sweet loving. That is, of course, if you know how to dance. If not, your sultry soufflé will find itself falling limp into the pan. Thankfully, the instructors at Del Campo Studio have offered private and group lessons for over 15 years. Their Sunday night Salsa lessons at Harlow’s—followed by a salsa dance from 8 p.m.-midnight—promise a good time. Salsa Capital, the Del Campo Dance team that has performed at the state Capitol and the Sacramento Jazz Jubilee, is on hiatus. But rumor has it they’ll revamp performances in January. Del Campo Dance has created a variety of programs, including lessons taught by Spanish-speaking instructors, to benefit every skill level. They’ll have you dancing your way into romance. 2818 Marconi Avenue, (916) 483-5292, www.delcampodance.com. M.Cr.
Best place to break your exercise rutCapoeira Arts Academy
Patrick Hilligan, founder of uptown’s Agua de Beber Capoeira Arts Academy, warned me it was a little ambitious to try a mixed-level class as my first introduction to Brazilian dance. I assured him that I was a dancer; surely I could bust out some cartwheels and roundhouse kicks. Two hours and three toe blisters later, I had the sweaty shine of a Hell’s Kitchen cook. Or was that a sexy Brazilian glow? Capoeira’s origins aren’t certain. But we do know it was created by Africans either before or after they moved to Brazil in the 19th century. Capoeira is a combination of Cirque du Soleil acrobatics, martial-arts Zen and the communal spirit of break-dancing—all to the beat of West African drumming. I first saw the athletic marvel in Berkeley and vowed I’d someday be cool enough to learn it. Thank God Hilligan brought his mastery to Sacramento, where coolness isn’t required. Samba over to the Academy’s beautiful Del Paso digs for a free beginner’s class. You’ll be doing headspins in no time. 1811 Del Paso Boulevard, (916) 641-2988, www.adbcapoeira.com. K.F.
Best place to go 60 mph with no brakes
Fast Fridays Speedway
They do things just a little bit differently in Auburn. Consider motorcycle racing, for instance. Like most motorcycles, the bikes they race on the 1/8-mile dirt oval at Fast Fridays Speedway in Auburn have two wheels. From there, the similarities end. The speedway motorcycle consists of a single cylinder, 500 cc motor bolted to a spindly frame with no brakes. That’s right, no brakes. Riders speed from zero to 60mph in three seconds on the track’s short straights, and then scrub speed off by pitching the motorcycle sideways into the corner. Watching four riders enter the same corner at the same time, bikes totally sideways, rear wheels spewing rooster tails of dirt, is one of the most hair raising spectacles in motor sports. You can see it every Friday night from May to September, and on October 5 and 26, at Fast Fridays, where racers from around the world come to compete at one of the few speedway tracks left in America. Gold Country Fairgrounds, 1273 High Street, Auburn; (530) 878-7223; www.fastfridays.com. R.V.S.
Best place to watch football
Streets of London Pub
When we say “football,” we mean the game that the entire world except the United States calls “football.” You know, soccer. The only way to get most Americans over 12 interested is to have a member of the women’s national team take her shirt off and wave it around, but everybody else on the planet knows it for the sport it is: endurance, skill, intelligence and the ability to butt heads when necessary. So the next time Celtic takes on United, squeeze up to the bar, quaff a pint—oh, bloody hell, make it a pitcher—of Guinness and watch some real football with people who know how the game is played. And, of course, World Cup games bring out all the folks from across the pond. They may prefer the curries to the bangers and mash, but the whole world likes a well-played goal. 1804 J Street, (916) 498-1388, www.streetsoflondon.net. K.M.
Best repair shop for Chinese scooters
New Century Cycles
If in your bid to reduce your carbon Keds print you traded your gas-guzzling ‘74 El Dorado for a gas-lightly sipping Chinese Tank Urban Sporty scooter, then the best place to take it for repairs around here is New Century Cycles. No other shop will touch it. However, you may experience buyers’ remorse when you step into the showroom and see all the brand new scooters, touring cycles and ATV’s for sale—generally for not much more than you paid for the 2-year-old Tank and generally thousands less than your neighborhood Vespa, Honda or Harley Davidson dealers charge for their new bikes. New Century also stocks parts, helmets and other accessories; the staff is warm, friendly and mighty helpful; and it’s a nice little scooter ride out Florin-Perkins Road to God knows where to get there—so long as a Safeway 18-wheeler doesn’t blow past, sending your ride squirreling off course, your person flying over the handlebars and your face shield planting into the dirt shoulder. New Century Cycles, 5430 Florin-Perkins Road, Suite 150; (916) 226-6613; www.newcenturycycle.com. M.C.
Richard Sprague, Capital Athletic Club trainer
“I don’t want you to destroy yourself. But I do want you to challenge yourself.” These are the words of master motivator Richard Sprague, who for the past 13 years has taught spin classes at Capital Athletic Club. As Madonna thumps out of the PA, two-dozen or so sweat-soaked men and women dutifully crank up the tension knobs on their stationary bicycles and proceed to push themselves to the limit of their cardiovascular endurance. “My friends, give yourself another subtle increase,” Sprague commands. “Don’t slow down!” The class lasts an hour, and by the time it winds down, the participants, who call up to two days in advance to get a spot, are totally wrecked. “It’s just a little cardio,” Sprague shrugs. What makes his classes so popular? Partly, its always-encouraging and never-demeaning rap. Partly, it’s his well-designed music programs, compiled from ‘60s soul, ‘70s disco, ‘80s new wave, ‘90s alt rock and contemporary hip-hop. Finally, it’s the fact that there’s probably no better way to burn fat. Put it all together and destroy, er, challenge yourself. It’s never been so much fun. “Always a pleasure to motivate you,” Sprague says at the end of every class. He means it. Tuesday and Thursday 6 to 6:45 p.m., Friday 12:10 to 1 p.m.; 1515 8th Street; (916) 442-3927; www.capitalac.com. R.V.S.
Best use of eight limbs
Muay Thai: Thai Boxing Gym
With origins in ancient battlefield tactics, Muay Thai is not for the meek. Thai boxers use their arms, legs, knees and elbows to pummel an opponent. Before unleashing jumping knee kicks, elbow uppercuts, head butts and other moves banned in professional boxing matches in the United States, Thai boxers perform a Wai Kru ritual, paying respects to their teachers. Pipes and drums accompany the matches, the speed of the music fluctuating depending on the fight’s momentum. For Sacramentans, the Muay Thai: Thai Boxing gym on Northgate Boulevard features a world-class instructor, Andy K., who teaches the Art of the Eight Limbs. You may be a long way from Bangkok, but with a couple of chopping elbow blows, you can feel a little bit closer to home. 2850 Northgate Boulevard, Suite 2; (916) 568-5881. S.C.