Sorry I've been a bit MIA here lately - I took for a few days to visit my sister in the San Francisco Bay Area. It's always so nice to see her and her family there, and I love any chance I can get to just go somewhere, anywhere. But I had another reason for going down there this past weekend. We volunteer-ushered a concert Saturday night.
For us, both being big music fans, it's quality time together doing something we both enjoy. I know the bands we heard probably aren't even on the radar of my readers, but I wanted to mention this because it's the best way I know of to get to see and do cultural events, for free! We like live rock music, so we've found the venues that use volunteers for rock concerts, but this idea can work for just about any cultural event, or for museums, in your town too. Volunteering time instead of spending money is a very viable and affordable option to get out and about. Concert volunteers are usually "cut" early in the evening, so then they can just join the crowd and enjoy the rest of the event. Plus, once you get on the list for an organization, you'll also get invited to the year-end thank-you parties, or maybe get free tickets for another show.
As for our concert this weekend, it was the Progressive Nation Tour - with four bands: Three, Between the Buried and Me, Opeth, and Dream Theater (see, you probably never heard of them). The first three bands were a bit too "metal" for me, but I really liked Dream Theater. And I really love working this venue. The Paramount Theater in Oakland, California is a restored Art Deco Depression-era movie theater - a splendid example of ornate, rococo, gaudy, let's-go-nuts-in-public decorative art, fully and lovingly restored and ornamental as all get-out. In order to work there, volunteers have to go through the tour. It was amazing hearing about how the enormous decorative panels forming the theater walls and the proscenium arch were made and then erected, about the pipe organ still in place, the tunnels and crawl spaces above and below, the myriad little decorative touches everywhere - even the restrooms are amazing! When I don't care for the artists performing, I love spending my time just walking around the place, and I really love the interaction with all the people. Figure out what you'd like to see or do, start asking questions - get yourself on the upcoming events list for the places you'd like to spend some time (instead of money) - and ask who to talk to about volunteering.