What should I do with myself, o Albablogger, cry the people. I've spent all of my money on non-denominational holiday gifts, and now I'm cold and bored and full of impotent rage. Should I sit in my apartment, angrily typing on Reddit about how desperately unhappy I am and how it's clearly all this rust belt hellscape's fault?
No, you should not do that, my precious karner blue butterfly. You should do one of these cheap things (that you probably haven't done before) instead.
Make Art in a Dive Bar
The Punk Rock Sketch and Sip and Dark Arts Paint n Sip take place at irregular intervals at The Low Beat on Central. 12 bucks gets you a drink and an art lesson with 78% fewer wine mom jokes than the paint 'n' sip events they charge you 60 bucks for at the mall. The two events also come with a punk and darkwave/edm soundtrack, respectively.
Acquire Material Goods at an Anarchist Market
Every two months, a bunch of anarchists gather at the social justice center on Central to throw the Albany Really Really Free Market, a flea market where everything is free (really). They promise that you won't have to listen to any sermons, though this reporter suspects that you may have to listen to at least one white dude with dreadlocks tell you far, far more than you ever wanted to know about his personal journey toward veganism. At the very least, this is is an opportunity for some excellent people watching.
Dance Like a Bunch of Kindly Old Hippies are Watching
Strap on your most sensible clogs and head on down to to the Elks Lodge on South Allen or the First Congregational Church on Quail, where some lovely people from DanceFlurry will teach you to contra dance. It costs either 12 dollars, 8 dollars, or nothing, depending on how seriously you take the phrase "suggested donation" and whether or not you've brought along this frankly adorable coupon. Alternately, if you're too much of a hepcat to want to dance like you're at the hottest new barn in Upstate New York, the nice folks of Albany Swing Dancing will teach you to Lindy hop for a similarly rock-bottom price (between 15 bucks and free).
Look at Some Damn Art For Once, You Uncultured Rube
Have you been to the State Museum lately? No? How about the Albany Institute? The Opalka Gallery? Albany Center Gallery? How about a self-guided walking tour of some cool murals? Jesus Christ, what's wrong with you?
Take a Free Writing Class
The APL offers a series of free writing workshops by a Saint Rose professor. Then, once you're polished your experimental slam poetry to perfection, you can take it to a local open mic.
Or a Free Fitness Class
The ESP offers free learn-to-skate classes and free workout sessions all winter. Honest Weight offers regular free events, including free fitness classes. Lark Street Yoga holds occasional free/community sessions, as does Heartspace Yoga.
See a Movie for Cheap
The Palace Theater used to be an old school movie palace, and they still regularly show movies for five bucks a ticket. The Spectrum also has matinees for under 10 dollars.
Tour a Historic Building
Tours of the Capitol Building and State Education building are always 100% free. A tour of either the Ten Broeck Mansion or the Schuyler Mansion will set you back five bucks a pop.
Burlesque, Comedy, Drag, Live Music and Karaoke
Albany's own Pop Culture Provocateurs regularly rock out with their pasties out at the Fuze Box on Friday evenings, for a very reasonable 12 dollar cover. The Savoy Taproom hosts Laughs on Lark, a free comedy open mic. Neighbors Waterworks and Rocks hold dueling drag nights on Wednesday, with the Wacky Wednesday Drag Show and Dragged Wednesday both being held weekly, free of charge. There's also enough cover-free karaoke going on at different bars around Albany to take you all through the weekend: Oh Bar on Thursdays, Waterworks on Fridays, and LAX on Saturdays, to start. There's also almost always a band playing that you might like to see: Fuze Box, The Savoy, The Hollow, and Pauly's Hotel are all good places to keep an eye on. Alternately, head on over to Nippertown to see what interesting shows are coming up.
Got a Better Idea? Tell Me About it, Wise Guy.
Seriously, though. Know about a cool, cheap, ongoing winter event or activity? Fill out that comment box and tell me all about it.