- Abbie Plouff -
This post comes to you from a proud, proud Minnesotan. Consider this my love song to Minneapolis.
“I’ll always live in Minneapolis. It’s so cold it keeps the bad people out.” - Prince
Once considered “flyover country,” the Twin Cities of Minneapolis and St. Paul are becoming known for their offbeat yet homely feel. I mean, we already gave you Prince, and if that doesn’t show you how cool these cities can be I don’t know what does.
And while the Twin Cities are very interesting places to visit, they are also interesting particularly because they don’t boast the same kind of tourist attractions as other major cities. So what shenanigans should a visiting weirdo get up to?
Twin Puppet Festivals
If you’re planning your first ever visit to the Twin Cities, I recommend that you come either for May Day or Halloween season. Why? Because you’ll be able to catch some amazingly poignant DIY punk puppetry.
The Twin Cities are weird enough to sustain not one but TWO puppet festivals: The May Day Parade and Barebones.
The more famous of the two shows is the May Day Parade. Put on each year by the Heart of the Beast Puppet Theatre, the May Day Parade is a celebration of the fight for collective liberation and workers rights. Each year the collective of volunteers behind the Heart of the Beast determine a theme to explore in their parade. Past themes have included a celebration of the Black Lives Matter movement, gender transformation, and support for the indigenous resistance to the Dakota Access Pipeline.
If you want to catch the May Day Parade in all of its glory, make sure that you’re in town the first Sunday of May.
The second puppet festival is put on by Barebones. A celebration of death and rebirth, Barebones tells the story of the major losses in the community or globally while ultimately tells a story of hope for the future - because we are here to bear witness to our dead, we can learn from them and grow. Barebones takes place over Halloween weekend and another weekend, and is a cherished family event for all the weirdos in the Twin Cities.
The Twin Cities are very well known for being one of the most bikeable metro areas in the country - and for good reason! With miles and miles of trails, more local bike shops than you can imagine, and one of the highest rates of bicycle commuting, the Twin Cities are the perfect destination for you gearheads.
One of the things that I find particularly empowering about the cycling community in the area is the beautiful femmes and queers making cycling a safe space. The organization Grease Rag is a women-trans-femme (WTF) oriented space dedicated to empowering the WTF community to take space on the roads, learn bicycle maintenance, bike safety, and even winter cycling. The folks of Grease Rag clap back against toxic masculinity in the cycling community to make cycling safe for everyone.
One of the most joyful celebrations of WTF on two wheels is the annual race Babes in Bikeland. Babes is a celebration of sexuality, gender, and fierce biker babes. You can participate either as an individual or on a team, and you cycle a route that is usually 15-20 miles long. There are about 10 stops along the way, where you need to get off your bike to complete a challenge and get it signed off by Babes volunteers. Don’t fret if you don’t have anyone to bike with! People are usually friendly enough that you can join their crew.
When you visit, you’ll probably notice the ubiquitous 89.3 bumper sticker. This is our local alternative radio station The Current, and how most Twin Citizens stay up to date on happenings around town. The Current plays an eclectic mix of contemporary music from all genres, as well as “legacy artists” like Lou Reed, David Bowie, and even Billie Holiday. You can stream The Current online ahead of your trip to the Twin Cities, and I highly recommend you do so because you’ll find out about events and shows you wouldn’t otherwise hear about.
I’ve barely scratched the surface of all that the Twin Cities have to offer. You can head over to Matt’s Bar to grab the authentic Jucy Lucy (trust me), hit up the Minneapolis Sculpture Garden, and of course dance your ass off at First Ave. If you come here, you’ll want this to be your new home.