However, there are some advantages to being an old fuddy-duddy, one of which is easy access to nightlife. Of course, those below voting age can take in a fine performance by any number of local bands at El Torreon or Gee 2000, and those who can legally smoke but not drink can still catch all the up-and-coming touring acts that stop by The Bottleneck. For those who find the cutting edge too sharp, there's always Sandstone's big-name draws, and age is not among the hundreds of criteria taken into account before a patron obtains entrance to these events. Britney Spears, Christina Aguilera, 'N Sync, and the All That festival provide several weeks' allowance worth of poppy hooks for the underage camp, the acts on Ozzfest provide ammunition for those who like to rock, and Rockfest provides a safe forum for those who like to rock -- but only at Stone Temple Pilots speed. Some bills offer educational benefits, as select summer schools might offer extra credit in history for tykes who venture out to see Styx, Yes, and Poison. Last but not least, there's Red, White, and Boom, America's best (if perhaps only) annual pairing of now artists (Destiny's Child, Enrique Iglesias), yesterday's acts (although a reunited Bon Jovi is a White House-caliber firework compared to Black Cats of previous years, such as Color Me Badd), and tomorrow's radio fodder. With Melissa Etheridge and Third Eye Blind also packing some considerable pop, this somewhat bizarre genre-hopping, low-price showcase offers its most formidable lineup yet.
Children of the '80s who occasionally like to dance without first applying sunscreen, then straining their eyes to look at a distant stage, then reapplying sunscreen, then wincing as sunscreen leaks into squinting eyes (repeat process for five to eight hours) can flock to Roadhouse Ruby's teen night or to covert raves held in such exotic locations as Lone Jack and the Woodlands. Another option is to listen to the pulsing beats escaping the shaking walls of the over-21 establishments in Westport while loitering on the sidewalk, an option that is quite popular with teens and much less so with the police.
Another teen hangout that has increased in popularity is Cinemark's Palace on the Plaza, located in the building old-timers might stubbornly still call "Seville Square." Here, youngsters can reassure adults of the younger generation's wholesome merits by grabbing an All American meal from the McDonalds next door before bolstering the economy by shelling out the student price (another advantage of youth) for a big-budget Hollywood blockbuster.
Art gallery openings at the Crossroads district have become increasingly popular with the younger set, and these are plentiful during the summer months. These highbrow affairs offer teens the chance to both look mature and to get a free carbonated beverage, while they provide much more aesthetic pleasure than another pursuit that comes with the same privileges -- being a designated driver.
Although hanging out at a park might not be as classy as making an appearance at a gallery, playgrounds aren't just for toddlers. Most parks close at 11 p.m., meaning that the big boys and girls get free rein on all equipment long after curfew for the kiddies. True, old-timers might recall that playgrounds were much more memorable before being invaded by lookalike sterile plastic structures and that parks such as Meadowlake used to encourage teens to exercise into the wee hours of the night with their lighted basketball courts until some party-poopers intervened, but there's still something to be said for the solace of a swing set on a warm night. It's an ideal place to take a break from a taxing social schedule, to kill some time before a nearby party, or to just contemplate the joy of summer, one of the few pleasures (along with snow days) reserved for the young.Endless