Feel the need to pick up a new skill? Looking for some bragging rights? Here’s a selection of classes offered locally that can give you that special boost in the “Guess what I did last weekend…” conversation.

Learn how to…

  • be funny. [Improv]
  • shake it or stir it. [Mixology]
  • turn it up to eleven. [Rock ‘n Roll]
  • soak up some (viti)culture. [Wine Tasting]
  • leave Danica Patrick in the dust. [Race Driving]
  • deal with your meat before it’s meat. [Butchering]
  • be the person who makes it go “wiki-wiki-awww yeah.” [DJ]
  • utterly ignore gravity and as many laws of physics as possible. [Parkour]

be funny. [Improv]

Improvisational comedy (or Improv, as the cool kids call it) can be best described as glorious, ritualized insanity.
Improv involves getting up on a stage, standing toe-to-toe with someone else and keeping a straight face when that person
announces they are Dairy Queen Elizabeth, ruler of all ice cream aisles, and their next royal decree “shall banish the heretics
known as the lactose-intolerant from my lands.” With proper training, you won’t give the obvious answer (“What is wrong with you?!”), you might declare yourself Captain Greenhouse, blessed with the special power of global warming, capable of reducing all ice cream cones into fetid milk puddles.

Thankfully, the Sac Comedy Spot will provide that training.

(credit: R. Brooks/CBS)

Pictured: A place the author could have gone to make the first few paragraphs funny.

The Comedy Spot has a continuous improv class to check out. It costs $10 a class to drop in when you want or $25 for a monthly membership. There is also an “intensive” improv class — smaller classes, more feedback from instructors — that runs $100 for six weeks.

The Sacramento Comedy Spot Website
(916) 444-3137
1050 20th Street Sacramento, CA 95811

shake it or stir it. [Mixology]

If you’re a secret agent, you have no need to learn to mix your own drinks. You head to the lavish casino bar and allow the bartender to prepare a stiff martini while you manfully stare down the villain from a distance.

Pictured: The ‘Go Fish’ game that will decide the fate of the world.

Those of us without a license to kill — and a secret government bureaucracy to foot the bill — have to obtain our cocktails in other ways: Pony up to the bartender or learn how to do it yourself.

(credit: MGM)

The second option presents its own pitfalls.

Pictured: A mistake you’ll only make once.

(credit: Flickr.com/meddygarnet/Wikipedia)

If you’re a fan of the sweet, sweet nectar known as booze, it may be advantageous to learn how to keep your home bar stocked to perfection, ready to take on any challenge you or your social circle can throw at it.

Consider this: Home bartending classes.

A Absolute Bartending School in Rancho Cordova may be better known for professional bartending classes, but they also have a series of courses meant for the aspiring home gin-slinger.

Besides the nuts and bolts of keeping the home front well supplied, they can also teach you “classic cocktails”… you know, the kind that you pay other people to make for you. The good stuff. Tropical concoctions, smooth martinis, etc.

(credit: CBS)

Cocktails now come in technicolor.

Different classes focus on different… ahem, genres… of cocktails, so you can pick the taste of your poison.

Call Aabsolute Bartending to find out schedules and exact class prices. Home bartending courses tend to run a few hundred bucks.

(916) 256-5461
1447 Fulton Avenue
Sacramento, CA 95825-3605

turn it up to eleven. [Rock ‘n Roll]

Our world can be chaotic, but one simple fact is clear: You need to let it rock. Unfortunately, your musical experience is limited to Guitar Hero and your voice shatters into a million little falsettos when you try to sing the high note.

Our local school of rock is the bad, bad medicine that can cure your disease. (Figuratively speaking. That carpal tunnel problem, courtesy of Guitar Hero? You’ll want a doctor to check it out.)

Citrus Heights-based Rock, Inc. has a whole heaping helping of musical instruction specifically geared towards rock, not Bach.

That’s not a slam on concertos; as much as we all admire classical music, it’s okay to admit your soul burns with the desire to be able to send your electric guitar wails screaming through a packed stadium like aaaawwooo-shickity-wa-wa-wa-waaaaaaAAAAAAAA.

(credit: Mandy Hall Media)

Terrifyingly outdated costumes are optional.

The full rock spectrum is pretty well covered here: Guitar, bass, drums, piano, and vocals. Scream and shred alike. Plus, they have audio engineering lessons for those ready to graduate from GarageBand.

Rock, Inc.’s classes are all about getting you properly tuned to rock properly. You’re on your own when it comes to the sudden fame, the paparazzi stalkers, the pressures of worldwide touring and the horror of knowing Lady Gaga is making far more money than you. Of course, we all have to deal with that last one already.

(credit: R. Brooks/CBS)

Pictured: Gaga-free zone.

A month’s worth of music lessons (four 30-minute sessions) is $105. (Buy a bigger group of lessons and the price gets knocked down a little.) Private and group lessons available, and they’ll even set you up in mini-rock bands once you get some skills.

Rock, Inc
7360 Auburn Blvd. Suite 2
Citrus Heights, CA 95610
(916) 726-ROCK (7685)

soak up some (viti)culture. [Oenology]

Yeah, you enjoy a wine tasting every now and then. That’s not what we’re talking about.

You once told your significant other you thought the white wine they served with the grilled fish was “yummy.” Banish that word  from your mind forever.

(credit: CBS13)

Some people like wine, and some people really like wine. There’s even a frightening word for it: Enophilia. For those that desire to experience the full viticultural vocabulary available to Californians who live less than a tank of gas away from Napa, there’s a class that will bump you into the ranks of full-on wine connoisseur.

Or to describe it another way: You will finally be able to prove the sommelierat that restaurant you visited on your Parisian honeymoon was flat out wrong when he told you that bottle of 1921 Petrus would “enhance the earthy tones” of your meal.

(credit: DIMITAR DILKOFF/AFP/Getty Images)

Pictured: Bold character with an illuminating bouquet and a velvety touch. Not pictured: Earthy tones.

Take the “Introduction to Sensory Evaluation of Wine” at the UC Davis Extension for a two-day tour of austere vintages (not yummy) and how to properly enjoy them.

The class costs $550. Interested oenophiles can register through the UC Davis Extension’s website.


leave Danica Patrick in the dust. [Race Driving]


Grand. Prix. Vroom.

Let’s state right up front: This will be the biggest hit to your wallet on this list. By far. But when it comes to strapping yourself into a vehicle with a few hundred horsepower under your back and miles of raceway in front of you and no speed limit, you probably don’t want to pay bargain prices.

(credit: CBS)

“We’re running a special: Get one lung removed, have the second removed free!”

After some detailed instruction, Jim Russell’s Racing Drivers School at Infineon Raceway takes its students onto the track and lets ’em gun it. By the way, their race cars can go from 0-100 MPH in under nine seconds.

Pictured here: Did I mention, vroom?

The half-day Grand Prix Master Program will get you on track and doing laps, and costs $995. More intensive classes will cost more.

Jim Russell Racing Drivers School
Infineon Raceway
29359 Arnold Drive
Sonoma, CA 95476

deal with your meat before it’s meat. [Butchering]

Fellow meat-eaters, as convenient and wonderful as it is to grab one of the microwaved meat-paste items alleged to be “hamburgers” from under the heat lamps in a gas station store, you might like to know where your tasty, tasty animal flesh comes from.

Enter the butcher.

Butchering animals yourself means you’re not rolling the dice on quality; you see the animal, you inspect it yourself and you supervise its transfer to your plate and stomach every step of the way.

(credit: AP)

Pictured: Your current meat supervisor

(You’re also saving a bunch of carbon emissions by not wasting any of the meat or having it trucked across the state/country/continent, so that’s a plus.)

Taylor’s Market has hosted a bunch of lessons on the basics of butchering, with more scheduled all the time, and the price won’t make you scream: $40 per person.

(credit: R. Brooks/CBS)

Check their website for the list of upcoming classes (they have new ones all the time!).

Taylor’s Market
(916) 443-6881

be the person who makes it go “wiki-wiki-awww yeah.” [DJ]

“Wow. This DJ is terrible.” – Everyone who has ever been to a club or wedding.

(credit: Mike Cagely/Groove University)

If the image that pops into your head when you hear the term “deejay” involves the bow tie-wearing, creepy guy who played “The Chicken Dance” repeatedly at your wedding or the leering dude who played “Pour Some Sugar On Me” the instant he saw your girlfriend in the club last weekend, this will correct that.

Pictured: A bunch of students about to change their majors.

Groove University, a DJ program based at the University of California, Davis, busts out the gear and the gizmos and shows you how make the club feel the thunder.

Yes, that means they’ll put you behind the wheels of steel and guide your hands until you too can cause copious amounts of gyration on the dance floor while “in the mix.” If you ask nicely, you’ll also get a whole bunch of new jargon you can work into your daily conversations.

Boss: “Hey, Jim, what did you do this weekend?”
You: “I cut like a guillotine, yo.”
Boss: “Word up, gangsta.”

That’s exactly how it’ll go. Maybe.

They’ve got a bunch of pro audio sponsors, so classes actually deal with new equipment and modern gear… including the stuff needed to do video DJing, which is kind of the new hotness.

The class is held at UC Davis, but you don’t have to be a student to sign up. It costs $50 for students, $55 for non-students. Class start and end dates are based on the UC academic calendar year, so look for a new session every quarter.

Find out how to register through the UC Davis Experimental College website.

utterly ignore gravity and as many laws of physics as possible. [Parkour]

Finally, mankind has answered the eternal question: “If 20 ninjas armed with Uzis leap out while you’re walking down a dark alley with $100 bills stuffed to overflowing in your pockets, how do you prevail?”

(credit: Scion_Cho/Flickr)

Pictured: A likely assailant.

The answer:  Run. But not on roads or sidewalks, like mere mortals do. Parkour (sometimes called “free running”) is the art of moving as efficiently from one point to the other, so if something like a “wall” or “building” or “Howitzer” is in your way, you go over it. While somersaulting. It’s basic science.

(credit: JB London/Flickr)

If you saw the James Bond movie Casino Royale, you know what we’re talking about. Don’t question its realism – when has Hollywood ever lied to you? (And if you haven’t, now you have.)

Parkour is a form of urban gymnastics. You’ll see some impressive stuff, but safety at Technique Gymnastics is prized. When you’re training indoors, you get to have padding around your landing zone, which is exactly what you want the first few times you simulate hurling yourself up alley walls.

Technique Gymnastics in Rancho Cordova holds ongoing parkour lessons geared toward beginners every Wednesday and Friday. Ages 13-22 only. (Classes for under-13 kids available too.)

(credit: R. Brooks/CBS)

Technique Gymnastics

11345 Folsom Blvd.
Rancho Cordova, CA 95742
(916) 635-7900