1. January: the ideal time to stay indoors and do something that involves not being outside. This weekend brings the seventh edition of SnowCon, the annual celebration of table top gaming; Friday night there’s an opening night dance party and comedy show at Tantrum, followed by two full days of gaming on Saturday and Sunday at the Cross Insurance Center. Elsewhere on Friday, there’s an art opening at the Sohns Gallery at the Rock & Art Shop, there’s a black light dance party at the Downunder Lounge at Seasons featuring DJs Dhost (pictured at left), Skylyne, Tranceform and Bad Habit; it’s Stripped Night with Sam at Nocturnem featuring an array of acoustic musical guests; there’s rockers Stone Free at Paddy Murphy’s, the Trendy Robots at Blaze, and in Orono, there’s the Skastitutes at Woodman’s. On Saturday, the Junkyard Cats are set to rock at Paddy’s, there’s banjo man Hal Meyers at the Big Easy, the entertainingly eclectic Celtic rockers St. Huckleberry are at Nocturnem, the always-fun Tomorrow Morning are at Ipanema, and down in Winterport, there’s Trisha Mason at 4Points BBQ & Blues.
2. On Friday night in Portland indie rock four-piece Forget, Forget unveil two new songs and play a show with the band Jake McElvie and the Countertops, Able Thought and Velvet Noise at Empire. There’s also Americana performers Mipso and Dan Mills at One Longfellow Square, and it’s Friction Friday at Flask with bass DJs Goodtymez, the Psychologist, Coastal and Nocturnal. On Saturday, Port City Music Hall plays host to rockers Balance & Composure, Ovlov and Foreign Tongues, while at Empire there’s some excellent local metal with Ruin, Capture the Sun and Traitor’s Pact. 80s rockers Extreme — yes, them — are at the State, and at One Longfellow there’s a fundraiser for the charity Safe Passage featuring Viva and the Reinforcements, belly dance troupe Nabintu and Cuban funk band Rafael el Guajiro. At Bayside Bowl, there’s a triple bill of wildly diverse bands including Britta Pejic et sa Band de Cons (pictured), Litehouse and The Flipsides. Wrap it up Sunday with songwriters Cheryl Wheeler and Kenny White at One Longfellow Square.
3. Coastally speaking, the Midcoast has a few standout fun events this weekend On Friday night in Rockland, swingin’ band Three Button Deluxe takes over the Speakeasy, while Tomorrow Morning are set for Rock Harbor Brewing. On Saturday, rockabilly rockers Ragged Jack are at the Speakeasy, folk duo Ryer & McCue are at Rock City Coffee, and in Belfast, it’s the Snowed In 7 dance party, featuring DJs Ian Hammond, Matty T and Jason Keith at Three Tides. Across the bay, there’s Chris Ross at Chummies in Ellsworth on Friday and rockers the 220s at Sips in Southwest Harbor on Saturday; there’s also the first weekend of the Grand Theatre’s series of classic Disney films, starting with Sunday when they screen “The Parent Trap” at 1 p.m. and “That Darn Cat” at 4 p.m.; admission is just one dollar.
4. Three (technically four) great plays open across Maine this weekend. In Orono, the collaborative production of Arthur Miller’s “Death of a Salesman,” from both Orono Community Theatre and Ten Bucks Theatre, is set for 7 p.m. Friday and Saturday and 2 p.m. Sunday at the Cyrus Pavilion Theater on the UMaine campus. In Blue Hill, New Surry Theatre presents the play “Sleuth,” an entertaining mystery with shows at 7 p.m. Friday and Saturday and 3 p.m. Sunday at the Blue Hill Town Hall. In Portland, experimental theater company presents two plays by Caryl Churchill; “Owners,” set for 7:30 p.m. Saturday and Sunday and “Love and Information,” set for 7:30 p.m. Friday and 2 p.m. Saturday. Finally, the touring Broadway production of “Sister Act!” offers two Maine shows; 8 p.m. Friday at the Collins Center for the Arts in Orono and 3 and 8 p.m. Saturday at Merrill Auditorium in Portland.
5. What better way to warm up and get some fun exercise than trying one of New England’s special regional entertainments: contra dancing? Every weekend in Maine there are at least a couple contradances planned; this weekend, there’s the monthly dance at the UU Church on Park Street in Bangor, set for 7:30 p.m. and featuring contra duo Bumbershoot and caller Danielle Boudreau. There’s also international folk dancing in Brunswick on Friday, set for 6:30 p.m. at People Plus on Union Street and featuring dances from all over the world, taught each time. On Saturday, there’s a contradance at 8 p.m. the Trenton Grange, featuring the same lineup as Bangor — Bumbershoot and Danielle Boudreau. Visit deffa.org for many more dance dates.