It's easy enough being under 21 in Milwaukee during the summer. The season is so rich with outdoor street, music and ethnic festivals that there's almost always something to do. The long winters, however, are a different story. Once the city moves its drinking indoors, under-agers are shut out.
There are still some solid options for students without fake IDs, though. The corner bars and clubs that host some of the city's best music may be off limits, but Milwaukee's biggest, most active music venues are mostly all ages; The Pabst Theater, Turner Hall Ballroom, The Riverside Theater and the Rave all welcome minors. Milwaukee also has a long history of DIY all-ages venues and basement shows, which have flourished in recent years as the Internet has made it easier to find them.
The city's many universities do their part to keep students entertained. Marquette University's student center offers bowling and karaoke, while Milwaukee School of Engineering's Todd Wehr Conference Center uses its ties to the university's radio station, 91.7 WMSE, to host semi-regular concerts and novel events like the station's annual Music Rummage Sale Blowout. UW-Milwaukee's Student Union has the largest, most reliable entertainment lineup, hosting concerts, readings, lectures and film screenings that are often free and open to everyone, regardless of whether they have a student ID. The university's Union Theatre packs each semester with documentaries, experimental programming, classic films and Milwaukee premieres.
And for those who want to escape campus, the city's many co-ops and collectives always leave their doors open. The Riverwest Co-Op Grocery and Cafe is in many respects the social center of the Riverwest neighborhood, while Cream City Collectives across the street attracts a younger, more overtly progressive clientele with info-shops and a silk-screening center. Meanwhile, another neighborhood nonprofit, the Woodland Pattern Book Center, aims for the literary crowd with its lineup of readings and workshops.
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