Friday, November 13, 2009

Here's to Charlotte's future

Two years ago, I started this nightlife beat with excitement and trepidation. Was there really enough going on around town for me to write about? But Charlotte's booming entertainment scene kept me high-heeling it through uptown, Plaza Midwood, Lake Norman, Ballantyne and everywhere in between.

Today is my last day at the Observer. I've taken a job in Atlanta.

While my feet will thank me, I'll miss being able to watch the nightlife landscape in Charlotte continue to grow and evolve. Here's what I hope the future holds for the city's partygoers:

  • I hope some women step up to try their hands at the male-dominated nightlife industry. We need them to show that a good bar doesn't mean scantily clad bartenders or turning up the music as loud as it will go. Sometimes all it takes is a simple wooden bar, a few stools and some good beers on tap (see: The Flying Saucer, Thomas Street Tavern or Alexander Michael's).
  • I hope Charlotte embraces alternative lifestyles. This year has seen too many gay bars close (Velocity and the Eagle most recently; and the Garden & Gun Club went straight with its new Halo name), and they're often the ones to be setting the trends. Drag queen Roxy Moorecox is doing her part at Petra's, as is Dan Mauney with his popular Takeover Friday party, but we need more.
  • And while the N.C. Music Factory and the EpiCentre attract the biggest crowds, I hope local partygoers continue to support people like Eric Sprouse, owner of Dilworth Billiards, who greets customers (and their pets) warmly by name and makes his cozy pool hall feel like home. Or Tommy Timmins, owner of Madison's, Connolly's, The Attic and Tyber Creek, who lets others try gimmicks while he and his partners keep things simple and consistent. Or the Wilson brothers over at the Thirsty Beaver Saloon in Plaza Midwood, where they crack open a can of PBR for you before you even have a chance to grab a seat.
Those kinds of local people are the future of Charlotte. They will be the ones to carry on the small-town feel of this city, not the well-dressed doormen with earpieces charging you a $10 cover. We are not New York and we don't have to be.

Good luck, Charlotte. I'll be watching from afar.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

This week's party picks


Checkers Hat Trick

5 p.m. Corner of Fifth and College streets. $15 or 2 for $25.

Make a night out of the Checkers game with pre- and post-game parties courtesy of Elevate Lifestyle magazine. Ticket price includes a pre-party with beer and food (pizza from Libretto’s) at Buckhead Saloon, admission to the game and free entry into Buckhead for the (fingers crossed) post-victory celebration.


Red White & Blues

8-11 p.m. Wachovia Atrium. $35 in advance; $40 at the door.

No, it’s not July, but the Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation invites you to join its tri-colored themed party for an evening of charity and awareness. The all-inclusive party will feature local art, wine and beer selections, catered food, a silent auction and live music from U-Phonik. Proceeds go toward sending children with Crohn’s Disease and colitis to summer camp.


Chili cookoff and block party

1-6 p.m. 1936 E. Seventh St. $20 entrance fee for amateurs; $40 for professionals. For more info, e-mail Richard Gruica at

Local foodies from Good Eats Charlotte and the Go Social Club present the first Chili Cookoff at Jackalope Jack’s. Test your skills against amateurs and professionals alike. Can’t take the heat? Sit back with a beer (or game of skeeball) and party with former Panthers like Dan Morgan at the joint tailgate block party.


World Series of Beer Pong

7-11 p.m. 301 E. Seventh St. $20 ($25 at the door) per player in advance.

The 2009 BPONG Tour is coming to Charlotte to find potential contestants for the World Series of Beer Pong. Lovers of the sloppy drinking game can test their drunken hand-eye coordination in the official satellite tournament at Dixie’s Tavern. The winners will qualify for entry to The World Series of Beer Pong V – to be held January 1-5 in Las Vegas – where they will compete against hundreds of teams for a chance to win $50,000.

Monday, November 9, 2009

A note to my readers

I wanted to give you all a heads up that this will be my last week at the Observer. I've taken a job in Atlanta.

You can read my last column Friday online or in the CLT entertainment section.

I've appreciated all of the feedback this blog has generated, and I want to thank everyone for reading and keeping me on my toes. It's been a lot of fun and I'll miss meeting you guys out and about.

Beginning next week, entertainment editor Theoden Janes (who can be reached here) will take over the Party Picks column for CLT and, and both the section and the Web site will continue to offer all the best local entertainment news and event listings. You'll also still be able to find slideshows of local partyers on our Web site.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Bar brand expands across Tryon

The unofficial kings of uptown's East Fifth Street are expanding their brand across Tryon Street. Tommy Timmins, Kevin Devin and Maynard Goble – owners of Madison’s, Connolly’s, The Attic and Southend’s Tyber Creek Pub – are branching their successful bar brand into a small-plates restaurant concept.

Dandelion Market is tentatively set to open in early December on West Fifth Street in the old Latorre’s Restaurant site.
The name comes from the marketplace by the same name in Dublin, Ireland, in the 1970s, and just as the original Dandelion Market served as a popular meeting place for friends, Timmins says he hopes Charlotte’s version becomes a similar destination.

“Residents and visitors alike need a central meeting place to eat, drink and socialize, so it’s our goal to provide it,” he says.

Chef Katie Formuzis, formerly of Washington, D.C., has crafted a menu of about 30 small plates including Aged Cheddar and Fat Tire Ale Fondue, served with grilled baguette slices and caramelized apples.

“It’s a straightforward menu with ingredients you can understand,” Timmins says. “We’re taking the intimidation out of it.”

Dandelion also plans for 75 percent of its food to be supplied by local farmers and for much of its beer selection to come from Carolina breweries.

Fans of the partners’ pubs will find a similar lively, party atmosphere at Dandelion, despite the addition of cuisine and servers. Two full bars – one downstairs and one up – will have 24 craft-style beers on tap, along with an affordable wine list (no bottle over $25).

“We’re still going to do what we do after dinner (served until 11),” Timmins says. “We’re not going to get away from what we’re good at, but this gives us another angle.”

So at a time when businesses are struggling to stay afloat, how do the guys manage to keep their bars hopping and add a restaurant to the mix?

“We do our best to make friends with our customers and take care of them,” Devin says. “That’s always No. 1 to us.”

And while opening a new business in any economy is always a risk, Timmins says the moderately priced menu (plates range from $4 to $15) is what uptown needs.

"We think that's going to give us a nice jump-start," he says. "People will be more apt to check us out not just only on special occasions."

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

This week's party picks


Mix at Six

5-9:30 p.m. Ballantyne Village. Free.

It's the last Mix at Six of the season. Head over to Ballantyne Village and enjoy live music in the courtyard from Josh Z & Company.  


7-11 p.m. Holiday Inn Center City. $60 for members; $75 for nonmembers (tax deductible).

It's already November and the season of giving has officially begun. The Young Affiliates of the Mint are among the first each year to kick off the fall holiday parties with their annual Black & White Gala. Live music from the Swingin' Richards, buffet, and free beer and wine. Black-tie optional.


6-9 p.m. Various locations throughout Southend. Free.

Take a stroll through the crisp fall air and warm up with wine at some of Southend’s coziest art galleries and shops. A few new businesses in the booming area are joining the crawl, held the first Friday of every month.

Elevate Lounge on the Yacht

Registration at 6:30 p.m. at Loft 1523. 1523 Elizabeth Ave. $25.

It’s a three-hour tour of Lake Norman aboard the Ragin’ Party Yacht courtesy of Elevate Lifestyle. Tickets include pre- and post-parties with drink specials, free shots and beer on the bus to the marina and catered food and cash bar on the boat.

Beards BeCAUSE

7 p.m. Dilworth Neighborhood Grille, 911 E. Morehead St. $5 donation.

Check out the growers' halfway progress at this fun fundraiser's "5 O'Clock Shadow Party." Nearly 100 people have put down their razors or opened their wallets to help raise money for United Family Services Battered Women's Shelter. Live music from Finnegan Bell and Darnell Woodies.


Pig Pickin’ Oyster Roast

2 p.m. 1101 Central Ave. $10.

Common House in Plaza Midwood hosts its first fall BBQ and oyster roast. Join the cornhole tournament ($30 per team; $500 cash prize) or just enjoy the food, local beer and live music from Simplified, the Loose Lugnuts, Hunter’s Travesty and the Paul Atkinson Band. Proceeds benefit Friendship Trays.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Halloween: The good, bad and overdone

On a rainy, muggy night, thousands of costume-clad partygoers hit Charlotte bars on the first Halloween to fall on a Saturday in 11 years.

It was the culmination of a week of nightly costume parties that started a week before with the Gravedigger's Ball and ended Saturday with virtually every bar in town decking its walls with fake spider webs and orange and black streamers.

And because Oct. 31 was a Saturday this year, parties started early -- more than 1,200 people alone joined Rich and Bennett's Pub Crawl that started at 1 p.m. -- and lasted well into the night for those who were able to go the distance in packed, humid bars. (My aching feet forced me to throw in the towel at 11:30. I wasn't one of the brave few girls who risked who-knows-what by traipsing barefoot through beer-splattered bars.)

The Good:

A few people did their interpretation of recent pop-culture phenomenon Falcon Heene, aka Balloon Boy, but special props go to the guy who pasted a picture of Falcon on the balloon with the caption "Save Me."

One dedicated guy was a very convincing Teen Wolf -- easily the best makeup of the night, along with a group of Kiss lookalikes.

Two airline pilots got a lot of attention: one was a Northwest pilot who had a laptop strapped to him with a sign pointing toward Minneapolis, and the other was local hero Captain Sully, complete with goosefeathers and a deflated-looking goose atop his head.

A group of three guys dressed as plastic Army soldiers and stayed in character throughout the night. They were spotted around town posing for pictures in the classic stances made famous by the toys.

The Bad:

Not only has Halloween become the sluttiest night of the year (see: The Overdone, below), but it has also apparently become the night when men unleash their adolescent senses of humor. Seriously, guys, the giant penis costumes are just gross. Curiously, you never see any of them with dates.

On the opposite end of the in-your-face spectrum are the costumes that aren't immediately recognizable. If you don't know within seconds, it's not a successful costume. I saw way too many of those this weekend.

Football jerseys are just plain lazy. Period.

The Overdone:

I said it last year, and I'll say it again. The sexy insert-any-character/insect/animal-you-can-think-of-here has become entirely too predictable. They all just start to blend in after a while, taking the shock factor out of barely there skirts, fishnets and skimpy tops. (To see any of these said costumes, click on any album on or or check out this list of Dos and Don'ts to consider next year.)

Doctors. (See football jerseys above.)

While I liked this costume, I saw it a lot: guys dressed as the little boy from "Where the Wild Things Are" as the children's classic enjoys a pop-culture resurgence with the movie version of the book in theaters now. But, I have to give credit to any grown man willing to wear a footed onesie.

And, I'm including myself in the overdone category. I was one of many Lady Gagas spotted pants-less around town, although we all offered something different. Here's a pic of me and fellow Gagas.

For more pictures from Halloween, check out my Party Pix slideshow when it goes up Thursday afternoon on For video from Saturday night, click here.

What's your take on Halloween 2009? Best/worst parties? Most overdone costumes? Post in comments below.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Hotties up for auction tonight

Uptown Magazine has released its latest batch of "Uptown's Sexiest" and the honorees will be auctioning off some great packages tonight at Enso.

This year's sexy six are:
  • Susan Tran, former newscaster at WSOC (package includes a four-night/three-day trip for two to Bermuda).
  • Alessandra Ball, ballet dancer with N.C. Dance Theatre (package includes premium tickets to a number of different N.C. Dance Theatre performances)
  • Brad Beltrondo, managing partner at Suite (package includes various EpiCentre VIP cards, restaurant gift certificates, pampering at Modern Salon and a package at Palm Beach Tan) 
  • Johnathan Cuevas, owner of Apostrophe Lounge (package includes Bobcats tickets, a VIP table at Apostrophe and various gift certificates to uptown and Southend hotspots)
  • Olivia Moore, leasing manager at Ashton Southend (package includes chauffeured limousine service, autographed Panthers memorabilia and a gift certificate to Neiman Marcus)
  • Jack Egbert, pitcher for the Charlotte Knights (package includes a 14-person suite at Knights Stadium, throwing out the first pitch and a tour of the clubhouse)
Tonight's party starts at 7 and will feature fire throwers and a drum circle courtesy of DrumStrong. Auction starts at 8. It's free to get in and proceeds from the auction benefit the Levine Children's Hospital.