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Tonic Ball: Our How-To Guide

An Indy tradition that’s 18 years in the making, Tonic Ball returns to the city’s Fountain Square neighborhood on Friday, Nov. 22, with proceeds once again benefiting local hunger-fighting nonprofit Second Helpings.

For those who may be unfamiliar, Tonic Ball is an event where Indianapolis musicians honor internationally acclaimed stars by performing their own unique covers. This year, Indy acts will be honoring the music of the Beastie Boys, Bob Marley and the Wailers, Diana Ross and the Supremes, Radiohead, and the Ramones.

Like last year, Tonic Ball 2019 will take place across five participating Fountain Square venues, including the Fountain Square Theatre, Hi-Fi, Pioneer, Radio Radio, and White Rabbit Cabaret.

Before heading to the event, we’ve laid out some things you should know in order to make the most of your night.

Places To Eat

With Tonic Ball being in Fountain Square, there are plenty of delectable dinner options in the nearby vicinity, whether it’s burgers at Kuma’s Corner or Italian cuisine at the newly opened Maialina. When it comes to Mexican food, Tonic Ball committee co-chair Kirsten Eamon-Shine suggests La Margarita, specifically referencing the restaurant’s close relationship with the yearly fundraiser.

“La Margarita doesn’t just serve up delicious Mexican-inspired dishes,” says Eamon-Shine. “They also sponsor Tonic Ball, providing financial support directly to Second Helpings.”

When it comes time for dessert, Tonic Ball attendees can visit the General American Donut Company truck, which will be parked on Prospect Street between the hours of 8 and 10 p.m. If you happen to be looking for late-night munchies after the event has ended, a few suggested destinations also include Brass Ring Lounge, Peppy Grill, and Pure Eatery.

What To Wear and How to Prepare

Tonic Ball attendees are encouraged to dress in theme, with outfits inspired by the artists being covered at the event.

“You can wear a Diana Ross-style ball gown, dress like a ‘Sabotage’ extra, or don your Ramones tribute attire (denim, white tee, and a leather jacket),” says Eamon-Shine.

Above all else, however, showgoers should be wary of the weather when choosing their getup, as there will undoubtedly be some time spent outdoors while migrating between venues.

“Make sure you’re ready to hang out in the sometimes tricky late-winter weather,” says Eamon-Shine, adding that this year’s forecast does look a little more favorable than years past.

With Tonic Ball taking place across several different venues, it’s also recommended that attendees get some cash out of the ATM if they plan on drinking, as it makes things easier from a bar tab perspective (trust us). For newbies to the neighborhood, nearby ATMs can be found at Imbibe and PNC Bank.

How To Get There

There may not be valet parking at this Ball, but the Fountain Square neighborhood does provide plenty of nearby street parking options.

If you do plan on having an alcoholic beverage or two, the IndyGo Red Line is also an option, as the rapid transit bus route will continue to be free through Nov. 30. Before heading to the nearby stop on Virginia and Woodlawn, simply look to see when the next bus will arrive using the MyKey app.

For those who may not live near the Red Line route, ride-sharing services like Lyft and Uber are also a solid option. In this case, it’s recommended that you venture a block or two away from the Fountain Square Theatre building, as Prospect Street will be shut off to cars between Virginia Avenue and Olive Street during Tonic Ball.

Pick Your Rooms

Before heading to Tonic Ball, attendees should map out their general itinerary for the night using the schedule listed on the event’s website.

“We encourage ticket buyers to plan ahead—we’re talking about scores of bands and five rooms, which often reach their maximum capacity,” Eamon-Shine says.

It’s worth noting that “prime time” at Tonic Ball takes place between 8 and 10 p.m., and decision-making can often get a little tough during this timespan. Whether you go with Everything, Now! and S.M. Wolf playing the Ramones at Radio Radio, or Manners, Please and Chamber Music playing Diana Ross at Pioneer, there really is no wrong move to make during this time frame. If you’re looking for something completely unexpected, catch Indy’s only electric rock band comprised of six bassoonists and a drummer, who will perform at The Hi-Fi’s Radiohead stage. Just make sure you’ve got a solid spot planted and adequate libations in hand, as migrating between venues gets difficult during these hours.

New this year, showgoers can also tip their favorite stage after a stunning performance. This addition helps raise even more money for Second Helpings, while also giving attendees a chance to voice their approval for specific acts.

Save Your Memories

One great way to remember your 2019 Tonic Ball experience is to pick up a t-shirt, available at the Fountain Square Theatre. As Eamon-Shine points out, this year’s shirt features a “roller-tastic design” by new local design sponsor Guide & Anchor.

Additionally, event attendees can save cherished memories by posting them on social media, while using the hashtag #TonicBall.

An Indianapolis native, I love all things music, especially of the local variety. My other passions also include comedy, social justice, and the Indiana Pacers.
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