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Cheap Thrills

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4TH SATURDAYS UPTOWN Billed as "A Cultural Exchange & Global Marketplace," this free event boasts something for everyone. Shopping for the shopaholics, entertainment for the perpetually bored, food for erebody and peace for the single moms in the form of a children's village (hallelujah!). It's ongoing on the fourth Saturday of every month from 10am-5pm at Actor's Theatre, 650 E. Stonewall St. Call 704-342-2251 for details.

SUMMER RETRO FILM SERIES Check out film classics all summer long at the Ballantyne Village Theatre, 14815 John J Delaney Drive. Get the complete schedule at www.ballantynevillage.com and order tickets online or by calling 704-369-5101. June 16-18: Napoleon Dynamite; June 23-25: The Goonies; June 30-July 2: True Romance. June 9 to Aug. 6, Friday and Saturday, 10pm and midnight; Sunday, 1pm. $5.

SUMMER GAME NIGHTS It's always a stretch to suggest spending quality time with the family. No for real, try to remember the last time you spent some nonenforced time with your mom, dad, brother or sister. Kinda hard, huh? That's why Barnes & Noble has come up with a plan to bring 'em round with games to spur communication and bonding. One Tuesday night a month until September at the 3327 Pineville Matthews Road location. It's free therapy for you and the dysfunctionals you call family.

MOVIES IN THE PARK Not quite Breakfast at Tiffany's in Central Park, but still a great local substitution. This free event for the whole family is sponsored by Watershed in conjunction with the Parks and Recreation Department. Movies begin at dusk at the Amphitheatre in Freedom Park, 1900 East Blvd., with free popcorn and drawings. Bring your own blanket or chairs the second Friday of each month: July 14 and August 11. Info at www.watershedcharlotte.com.

LEARN TO MEDITATE Take it from loyal practitioners of meditation: There's nothing like it to take the stress of your workday off your shoulders. That's why the Pain & Rehab Institute is offering a free class in the breathing techniques and imagery used in ancient qi gong meditation (betcha didn't know there was more than one kind). The office is located at 128 E. Plaza Drive in Mooresville. Classes are Thursdays at 7:30pm. Call 704-649-1629 to get started on the path to serenity.

CHARLOTTE COMEDY THEATRE Have ya been moping around, feeling a little blue? Then here's the thing for you! Check out New Stuff Thursdays, an improv, student-based show offering just the right dose of side-splitting humor to jolt you out of the doldrums. Too cheesy? Then try on Sunday's Open Mic Jam, a combo of comedy, spoken word, music, you name it. Times/Prices: Thursday, 8pm/$5; Sunday, 7pm/$3. The location is 1308 D the Plaza. Call for reservations 1-866-467-7681. Comedy Rated R.

WORLD JUGGLING DAY Globally linked event bringing out the juggling world's best and handiest stars. Locally, the Lake Norman Jugglers hold court on the Davidson Village Green. Members give lessons in three-ball technique and put on impromtu performances for all in attendance. Just the thing to keep your 2-year-old quiet enough to gather your thoughts about what to make for dinner. Steve Langley, "The Great Fettucini," hosts this free and very family-friendly event. The fun starts at 9am.

SALSA NIGHTS Be Shakira for a night and prove that your "Hips Don't Lie" at the free Latin-style dance lessons offered at the Loft, 1526 Elizabeth Ave. Learn salsa, merengue, bachata and more. Touting "celebrity instructors," this joint gets hips swiveling every Wednesday night at 8pm. Hit www.hispanos-usa.com or call 704-333-5898.

SPORTS CONNECTION The ultimate cheap thrill is, of course, sports! Among the conventional sports offered at this complex are unconventional (and cheap) games like laser tag and skating. For $5, future Tony Hawks can skate all day -- and Star Wars fans can play laser tag. Go online www.SportsConnectionNC.com or call 704-583-1444.

ABPA NATIONALS Sea Doo, CS Performance, EZ Dock, Redline Powersports and Image Promotions present rounds five and six of the 9th Annual Sea Doo Surf and Turf Championships as the APBA Nationals converge on Lake Norman at Stutt's Marina this weekend. On Friday, Lancasters BBQ and Big Daddy's Restaurant cater a welcoming party from 6:30-8:30pm for racers and sponsors providing ample opportunity to socialize and check out the course. A Supercourse race starts things off Saturday morning followed by high-speed closed-course racing and freestyle; the GamesNFlix Bikini contest is at 1:30pm. Midtown Sundries Harborside hosts the after-party at 9pm; no cover charge with LKN Watercraft Challenge wristbands. Sunday brings things to a close with more closed-course racing, freestyle and the ICLIPS "Sickest Trick" competition. Admission is $5/day. For directions, call 704-453-9236 or visit www.lknwc.com.

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