Around Town: Top Valentine’s Day Activities in Ann Arbor


Do you think A2 (A-squared) can emit enough “amore” for all? Comparable to kissing in front of the Eiffel Tower or cuddling by the Trevi Fountain, discovering passion in Ann Arbor, also known as “Treetown” for its beautiful forests and parks, may just be the perfect place to woo someone on Valentine’s Day, or just enjoy some individual self-indulgence, or companionship with a friend.

Here is a list of some Ann Arbor events for your consideration on Valentine’s Day —in no particular order.

Carrie Mae Weems at The Michigan Theater—Go to the Michigan Theater, in the beating heart of Ann Arbor, where Carrie Mae Weems will be on hand as part of the Penny Stamps Speaker Series. The event is on Thursday, February 14 at 5:10 p.m. Best of all, it is free and open to the public! This may be a great way to spend a gal’s night out, and make it a “gal-entine.”

For more than 30 years, Weems has used images, text, film, and video to create a complex body of work examining the present moment by looking at our collective past. She has earned numerous awards, grants, and fellowships including a MacArthur “Genius” Grant and the Joseph H. Hazen Rome Prize Fellowship from the American Academy in Rome. Her artwork is included in international collections, including the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Tate Modern, London. On Friday, February 15 and Saturday, February 16 a new performance work—titled “Past Tense”—will be featured at the Power Canter. This is presented with support from the University of Michigan Museum of Art (UMMA) and the University Musical Society (UMS.)

Zal Gaz Grotto—Go dance to She-Bop and the Riff Raff at the Zal Gaz Grotto at 2070 West Stadium, starting at 7p.m. on Valentine’s Day. Every tune is danceable! According to Zal Gaz: “With the help of a terrific back-up band, the three women perform music from several generations, raging from Sixties Motown and Girl Groups to current pop hits.” They’re a top-notch rock-n-roll and Motown girl band, according to one neighbor. Zal Gaz Grotto is a social club for members of the Masonic Fraternity, and has practiced Good Fellowship in Ann Arbor since September 27, 1911. For instance, in addition to being a social club, Zal Gaz reportedly raises money for cerebral palsy and dental care for children with special needs.

Zingerman’s Valentine’s Day Chocolates & Cocktails: A Mix & Mingle—This happening is a celebration of chocolates and cocktails in collaboration with The Bar at Braun Court.

“We are very excited to team up with Eric Farrell, owner of The Bar at Braun Court for this bittersweet symphony of an evening,” explained Jennie Brooks, Zingerman’s Delicatessen Chocolate Specialist. “Eric will share his favorite ‘bitter’ cocktails as we invite you to taste our favorite ‘sweet’ chocolates. Plenty of time for mixing and mingling with your besties. Not just for lovers, treat yo’self or get out with your Pal–entines,” added Brooks. The event is at Zingerman’s Greyline, 100 N. Ashley Street. The cost is $45 a person.

Romantic Ann Arbor Dinner Out—Partake in a unique Ann Arbor meal. Try to forgo the franchises and regular run-of-the mill chains this Valentine’s Day. Have a special romantic meal at “Logan–An American Restaurant,” where chef Thad Gillies creates fabulous cross-cultural fusions as well as time-honored classics with a twist. His wife, Ann Turner, who is also an artist, designer, and educator, has tastefully adorned the walls of Logan, which is, incidentally, named after Gillies’ and Turner’s son.

Or, perhaps you might prefer the more traditional gourmet Italian and French fine fare of “The Earl,” which features live jazz five nights a week and has received the “Wine Spectator Best of Award of Excellence” for 21 consecutive years, with a wine list of over 1,200 selections.

Valentine the Spiritual Saint— Ann Arbor may be first and foremost an academic town because of the presence of the University of Michigan. So why not use this day to conduct a little academic research? In Latin, his name is “Valentinus” and in Italian, “San Valentino.” Valentine has a long, rich, and complicated history, which has largely been eradicated in contemporary celebration today. A perfect way of reclaiming this day in Ann Arbor might be to seek out a University of Michigan scholar on Roman Studies or even attend a church service. One could further examine why the Martyr Valentinus, who died on February 14 on Via Flaminia, Rome, in 269, is still officially recognized as a saint of local veneration. Today, various Christian religions, such as the Roman Catholic Church, Eastern Orthodox Church, Anglican Communion, Lutheranism, and individual Baptist churches celebrate Saint Valentine. Also notable is that the word “valens” means worthy, strong, and powerful. The Roman Catholic Church also names about eleven other saints having the name Valentine.

For a Healthy Heart—Heart disease is the leading cause of death for men and women. Why not use this day to make changes that are best for your heart, such as: eating healthy, getting active, slimming down, quitting smoking, controlling your cholesterol, drinking only in moderation, and managing stress—all of which are recommended by medical doctors. You may want to take a long walk, for instance, and monitor your heart rate. Most local drug stores now offer machines to check your blood pressure. Taking care of yourself first allows you to then share love with others as well.

WCBN—Take in the sounds of the University of Michigan radio station, WCBN, at home. My husband and I first met at the University of Michigan radio station WCBN at a record review session while we were both deejays there. We then collaborated on the “Donna and/or Bob Freeform Show.” Consequently, the radio station holds a special place in our hearts and minds. It is about the only radio station in the area that promotes “free form” radio—meaning playing just above every genre there is. So, whether you are a townie or University or Michigan affiliated, feel free to stay home, sit in front of a fire, and sip some vino or hot chocolate while taking in unique sounds of 88.3 FM. Invite avant-garde, jazz, womyn’s music, Celtic melodies, Klezmer cacophony, Tuvan throat singing, post-modern composers, Opera, and every other kind of music to wash over you–all without any commercials. If you call the station, they are happy to take almost any and all quirky music requests.

Happy Valentine’s Day! May you express your love and peace within yourself, with others, or maybe even collaboratively. 



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