Beyond bonbons and bouquets

Have a cardiac cuddle
Have a cardiac cuddle (at the Giant Heart at the Franklin Institute. MICHAEL BRANSCOM)

You've gotta love these offbeat Valentine's doings. Page XX

Posted: February 15, 2014

Valentine's Day and its extended V-Weekend will always be for lovers.

Normally, that means reservations for romantic tete-a-tetes at a local restaurant, most of which are surely booked by now. It could, if you're really ambitious, be about booking an overnight stay at one of the area's hotels that offer the amenities of l'amour at varying price points such as string quartets in your suite, one-on-one boudoir photo shoots, aphrodisiac dining menus, or Kama Sutra kits.

For those of Philly's couples who haven't made such grand plans or those who seek to eschew the usual dine-and-date, here are some interesting options for a sexy, loving Valentine's Weekend.

Baby Loves Disco 10th Annual BLD Valentine's Day Ball

There are two ways to look at the Baby Loves Disco party for playful, dancing children and their parents. One is that local hipster moms and dads who like keeping their young ones close (kids make great accessories, too) can make their children part of the loving fun. Baby Loves Disco makes that easy with family slow dances, V-Day craft making, and Kiss Cams for young and old. The second part of Baby Loves Disco is that the more romantic selfish parents can sneak off and have a mimosa while their children drown their sorrows in juice box after juice box.

Saturday 11 a.m. World Cafe Live, 3025 Walnut St. Tickets: $14 adults and children. Information: 215-222-1400,

'Mrs. Independent' at the Merriam Theater

"Can a woman still be submissive to her husband and allow him to lead her household if she is the primary breadwinner?" That's the promotional tagline that drives playwright Priest Tyaire's Mrs. Independent and its slippery, serious, and silly tale of mind, money, and marriage. Beyond the juiciness of this soap opera's love story, Mrs. Independent boasts several cool, catty actors in the notorious Robin Givens, boisterous gospel singer Shirley Murdock, and Tony Grant, the R&B singer from Az Yet  . Look out for fireworks.

Friday through Sunday, 3 p.m., 7:30 p.m., 8 p.m., Merriam Theater, 230 S. Broad St. Tickets: $39.50-$59.50. Information: 215-893-1999,

'Songs for Swinging Lovers' at the Leopard Lounge

If it isn't romantic enough that the Prime Rib at the Warwick Hotel, the Rittenhouse area restaubar, opened a late-night boite, the Leopard Lounge is just perfect for trysting. The Rib's Garth Weldon teamed with Philadelphia's All-Star Jazz Trio - pianist/vocalist Andy Kahn, drummer Bruce Klauber, and bassist Bruce Kaminsky - for Saturdays filled with Tin Pan Alley standards. This Valentine's Saturday, the Trio gets all gushy with a program called "Songs for Swinging Lovers" that is, in Klauber's words, "sometimes swinging, sometimes bluesy and sometimes sad, with songs from the Great American Songbook that tell of love found, love lost, love discovered and love re-discovered." Sounds loving.

Saturday 10 p.m., the Leopard Lounge at the Prime Rib at the Warwick Hotel, 1701 Locust St. Tickets: Free. Information: 215-772-1701,

Mr. Romance and Mrs. No Romance

Two acts that define separate elements of love hit Atlantic City's Borgata Hotel and Casino this V-Weekend. Maxwell is a sauntering, sensual icon of simmering modern soul, the Brooklyn-born vocalist whose Embrya and BLACKsummers'night set a new standard for simmering romantic R&B. Comedian Lisa Lampanelli, on the other hand, is Mrs. No Romance, a foul-mouthed stand-up whose routine is all about raunchy sex and disses to anyone and everyone. Take your pick or catch the pair.

Maxwell, Friday 8 p.m. Tickets: $65-$125; Lisa Lampanelli, Sunday 8 p.m. Tickets: $49.50-59.50 (21+), Borgata Event Center, Borgata Hotel and Casino, 1 Borgata Way, Atlantic City. Information: 866-900-4849,

Walk Through the Giant Heart

When Dr. Mildred Pfeiffer came up with the idea for a walk-through heart at Franklin Institute in 1953, her motivation was educational. But we'd love to believe that the big heart can inspire a little romance, too. What better way to celebrate Valentine's Day than to stare at the stars in the Planetarium, then steal a smooch in front of the heart's biggest valves.

The Franklin Institute Fels Planetarium and the Giant Heart Exhibition, 222 N. 20th St. Hours: 9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily. General admission: $16.50 adults, $14 children 3 to 11. Members free. 215-448-1200,

A Post-Valentine Blues Open Poetry Reading

Leonard Gontarek isn't just one of Philadelphia's preeminent poets. He makes one heckuva host and open-mike curator. His Tuesday-night open-mike event with Charles Carr at West Philly's Green Line Cafe comes with a theme for himself and those who choose to read - create three poems including lyrics based in the bands and music from the '90s. That means everything from Alanis Morissette's angst to the Spice Girls' sweet soliloquies.

Tuesday 7 p.m. Green Line Cafe, 4426 Locust St. Tickets: Free. Information: Sign up in advance at, 215-222-0799,

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