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.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Halloween 2009

Halloween bashes are spooking Charlotte! Here's a list of events this weekend.


Glitterati Ball -- The Devil's Last Waltz: JStudio and Roxy Moorecox host this masquerade ball at the Visulite Theatre. Highlights include music by DJ Wiiz Kid and George Brazil, entertainment by Angela Lopez and the Queens of the Masquerade, the JStudio dancers, and Simone the Dollminatrix and her whipping booth. 9 p.m. 1615 Elizabeth Ave. Tickets are $5 in advance and $8 at the door (available at Common Market Southend, JStudio or by emailing

Shiprocked! Snug Harbor hosts a Halloween Carnival with help from Scott Weaver's popular Shiprocked weekly party. Games, prizes, a drag show and costume contest. 1228 Gordon St. FREE.

Takeover Friday: Watch The Rocky Horror Picture Show at Dammit Janet nightclub just north of NoDa. 7-10 p.m. 3746 N. Davidson St. $5.

Halloween Howler Bar Crawl: Presented by Bacardi and Six stops. Costumes mandatory. 6 p.m. registration at Dixie's. 301 E. Seventh St. $10 in advance; $20 day of.

Supernatural Halloween: Elevate celebrates with an after-work party at BlackFinn. 6 p.m. 210 E. Trade St.

Ghostbusters Boo Bash: Breakfast Club's costume party. Also 1-2-3 night: $1 domestics, $2 imports, $3 mixed drinks. Take your picture with the ghostbusters' ambulance. 8 p.m. 225 N. Caldwell St. $7 for members; $8 for nonmembers.

Masquerade Party: Blue Restaurant is offering free entry to its Halloween party with dinner reservations. Costume prizes, drink and appetizer specials. Samba dance entertainment. 9:30 p.m. Corner of Fifth and College streets. Advance tickets $10; $15 at the door.

Thriller Costume Ball: Sponsor Parties presents this 25th annual party at Mez. Costumes preferred. 8 p.m. 210 E. Trade St. $5-$15. For more information, e-mail

Fox & Hound, Ballantyne: Halloween bash benefitting St. Jude's Children's Research Hospital. Live music from The Holdouts. Costume contest and drink specials. 10 p.m. 15235 John J. Delaney Drive. $5 donation at the door.

Candy + Potter's Halloween Skate Jam: $500 best costume. Partygoers will attempt to break the Michael Jackson Thriller dance world record on roller skates. Free psychic readings from Mary Beth Wrenn and magic shows from Hannibal. 21 and up. Bar will be open. 11 p.m. Kate's Skate in Indian Trail, 14500 Independence Blvd. $12 tickets available online or at the door if available.

Saturday, aka Halloween

Fangtasia: Alley Cat transforms itself into a vampire-friendly nightclub with cocktails inspired by HBO's "True Blood." Bartenders will be wearing costumes from the show and Crashbox will perform the show's theme song. $500 prize for best costume. Ages 18 and up. 9 p.m. 314 N. College St. $10 for ages 21 and up; $20 for those under 21.

CarnEVIL 2009: One of the biggest bashes every year, CarnEVIL is back at Amos' Southend. Highlights include a performance from La Petite Mort Burlesque, a zombie fashion show, a fire performance, and food and prizes. 8 p.m. 1423 S. Tryon St. $20 in advance; $25 at the door.

Black Hearts Ball: Pavilion at EpiCentre hosts the band JET. Ticket includes entry into Suite, Whisky River, BlackFinn and Strike City. Prizes for best costume. 7 p.m. 210 E. Trade St. $15 in advance.

7 Deadly Sins: Suite's costume party. $1,000 prize. 9 p.m. 210 E. Trade St. $10 in advance. Tickets available at the club.

House of Horrors: BlackFinn's costume party. $500 and more in prizes. 9 p.m. 210 E. Trade St.

Monster Mash: The Guys with Ties host their annual party at a new venue this year, Strike City. $750 prize for best costume. Proceeds benefit Jacob's Ladder. 8 p.m. 210 E. Trade St. $10 at the door.

Thriller: The Forum will bring in a Michael Jackson impersonator (Kenny Wizz) for this party inspired by the late singer's famous video. Full stage show and a Thriller dance at midnight. $500 prize for best costume. 9 p.m. 300 N. College St. $20.

Halloween Pub Crawl: Rich and Bennett of St. Paddy's Day fame host this costume crawl around uptown. Hit all the parties at one price: Dixie's, Tilt, Phil's Tavern, Town Tavern, Alley Cat, Forum, The Attic/Madison's, Buckhead Saloon and the EpiCentre's Halloween concert at the Pavilion. Prizes for best individual and group costumes. Crawling starts at 1 p.m. at Dixie's. 301 E. Seventh St. $20 at one of three pre-registration parties; $25 online or $30 day of. More info at

Thriller: Whisky River is also hosting a party named for Michael Jackson's zombie-filled video. $500 prize for best costume.

Nightmare on Montford: Andrew Blair's restaurant, along with Paschal Promotions and CBAY present this costume party. $250 for best individual costume; $300 bar tab (for future use) for best group costume. Restaurant is offering a three-course dinner for $20 per person if you arrive early. Call for reservations. 8 p.m. 1600 Montford Drive. $5 cover includes one free draft beer while supplies last.

Night of the Living Beards: Loft 1523 hosts this costume fundraiser for Beards BeCAUSE. All proceeds benefit United Family Services Shelter for Battered Women. Cash costume prizes, drink specials. 9 p.m. 1523 Elizabeth Ave. $10 cover for those in costumes and beards; $15 for everyone else.

Rusty Rudder: Prizes and giveaways all night long at the biggest Halloween party on the lake. Simplified performs. $1,000 costume prize. 9 p.m. 20210 Henderson Road, Cornelius. NO COVER.

Smokey Joe's Cafe: Halloween party featuring live music from Crisis and Donna Duncan. Prizes and giveaways. 9 p.m. 510 Briar Creek Road. $5 cover. 704-338-9380.

Dixie's Tavern: Dixie's tones things down for Halloween night with a free party. $2 Miller Lights. Time. 301 E. Seventh St. FREE.

Snug Harbor: Bloody Hammer and the Poontanglers perform. 11 p.m. 1228 Gordon St.

Soul Gastrolounge: FU Party with NYC's DJ Benji Candelario. Come dressed as the person you love to hate. $100 Soul gift certificate for best costume. 1500 1/2 Central Ave. No cover. or stay up to date via the pub's Facebook page.

Moorecox & Mamma's Costume Cabaret: Drag queen Roxy Moorecox and burlesque leader Big Mamma D host this costume party at Petra's Piano Bar. Live entertainment including burlesque, comedy and fire throwers. Ages 18 and up. 8 p.m. 1919 Commonwealth Ave. $8.

Danse Macabre: Presented by SingleCell Productions at Dammit Janet nightclub. Live music from Mindless Faith, Angels on Acid, SOUL and more. Performances from all your Purgatory favorites, back together again. Ages 18 and up. 8 p.m. 3746 N. Davidson St. $20 in advance; $25 at the door.

Boo Bash: Phil and Tony's costume party. DJ, no cover and costume prizes. 10 p.m. 2225 Matthews Township Parkway, Matthews. Free.

Thriller: Breakfast Club's sixth annual costume party, hosted by Bandy from 107.9 The Link's "Matt and Ramona Show." $500 costume contest. 8 p.m. 225 N. Caldwell St. $8 for members; $10 for nonmembers.

Naughty & Nice: Tilted Kilt hosts this new Halloween party. Come in either your naughtiest, nicest or funniest. $500 bar tab for best costume. Beer specials and music. 13230 Carowinds Blvd.

Angry Ale's: The Montford Drive hotspot moves its Halloween party outside to the parking lot. The Masonboro Boys perform live on the patio. Outside bars with flip cup, beer pong and cornhole. Specials include jello shots and Big A$$ Bud Light cans. Costume prizes include $250 bar tab for best individual costume, $400 bar tab for best group costume and $250 bar tab for sexiest costume. 1518 Montford Drive. No cover.

PlayDate: The Halloween-themed version of this popular monthly party. Fun games from poker to chess, Simon Says to Pac-Man. Food and drinks available for purchase. 9 p.m. Jillian's, 200 E. Bland St. $10.

Dilworth Billiards: Halloween party featuring music from Haunted Travesty. Take a tour through the haunted medieval courtyard. Prizes for funniest outfit. 7 p.m. 300 E. Tremont Ave.

Milestone Club: Come to this famous music club for its annual Halloween party featuring such local bands as Cement Stars, LA Tool and Die, Gaston County Swingers Club, Human Pippi Armstrong and Yes Professor. Bands will be dressing up as such iconic performers at INXS, Meatloaf, David Bowie and The Strokes and playing those bands' songs. 8 p.m. 3400 Tuckaseegee Road. $5 over 21; $7 under 21.

Heaven and Hell: First annual Halloween party at Hickory Tavern. Angels and demons will mingle for one night only. Food and drink specials, costume prizes and music from DJ Emilio Havana. $200 for best costume. $150 for best angel. $150 for best devil. 9 p.m. 2005 East Arbors Drive.

Zombie Stock 2009: Halo hosts its first Halloween party as part of its popular Marquee Saturdays. Slogan: "Where the dead will come to party like rockstars." $1,000 cash costume prize. 9 p.m. 820 Hamilton St. For more info, e-mail

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Panthers help fight hunger

Current and former Panthers players gathered at Bank of America Stadium on Monday night to help fight hunger.

Thomas Davis, Jeff King, Damione Lewis, Mike Rucker, Dan Morgan and Matt Moore were some of the guys on hand to mingle with guests at the annual Taste of the Panthers event, which featured food and wine from the area's top restaurants.

(My favorite dishes of the night: Ember Grille's Shrimp and Grits and Bonterra's Pork Belly with Cornbread.)

It was all part of a fundraiser for Second Harvest Food Bank of Metrolina as the organization works to keep up with increasing demand in an economy where donations are down. (Tickets for the Taste event, however, were up by more than double over last year's party.)

The Panthers did their part by auctioning off autographed memorabilia, jewelry from Perry's and a Harley Davidson that went to one very thrilled couple.

As holiday season quickly approaches, Taste of the Panthers offered some good reminders for others planning similar fundraising fetes:
  • Do have enough high-top tables for people to perch with their food. It's a good way to get people to socializing and takes the awkwardness out of eating standing up. (Ushers also swiftly cleared tables of trash to keep them clean and open to other partygoers.)
  • Don't keep the fluorescent lights on. It's never flattering and it takes away from the festive atmosphere.
  • Do book an appropriate band. The Carey Simms Trio provided a perfect mix of party tunes Monday at a decibel level that suited the event (read: people could actually hold a conversation, but still enjoy the music if they wanted to).
All in all, it was a good night for the Panthers to put aside their record and focus on raising money for an organization in need. Well done, guys.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

This week's party picks


Tilted Comedy

7 p.m. 13230 Carowinds Blvd. Free.

Tilted Kilt kicks off a new free comedy night. Local comics such as Johnny Millwater will perform 45-minute sets. 


Aquavina Wine Festival

6-9 p.m. The Green on South Tryon St. $35.

The Young Affiliates of the Mint and Aquavina host this all-you-can-drink (and eat) wine festival. Live music, over 150 wines to sample and food vendors.

Friday, noon-11:30 p.m.; Saturday 10 a.m.-11:30 p.m.; Sunday noon-5 p.m. Downton Hickory.

Charlotte’s Oktoberfest this weekend is sold out, but if you want your fall beer fix, you can gas up the car and head to Hickory. The three-day festival downtown will feature two beer gardens, food vendors, craft booths, three stages of live entertainment (polka to rock ‘n’ roll), and kid-friendly activities, too.


Forum’s celebrates four years

10 p.m. 314 N. College St. $10.

Forum marks the four-year milestone with an anniversary party featuring DJ Craze. VIP hosted bar tab courtesy of Sugar Society from 10-11 p.m.

Chili Cookoff

Noon-10 p.m. MMR Racing parking lot, 1318-D Central Ave. $10.

Plaza Midwood and the Chantilly neighborhoods hold their sixth annual chili cookoff with music from the Loose Lugnuts, Belmont Playboys, Time, Aqualads, Johnson Boys, and Nita Belk and the Swingin’ Soirees. All you can eat chili. See if last year’s chili winners can defend their title. Family friendly fun by day, adult party at night. Proceeds benefit Hospice & Palliative Care Charlotte. The event is rain or shine.


Golf tourney

10 a.m.-6:30 p.m. Buses depart from Tyber Creek Pub, 1933 South Blvd. $100 per person/$400 for a foursome.

Looking for a fun way to celebrate Columbus Day? Come play Best Bars Charlotte Columbus Day Golf Tournament to benefit cystic fibrosis. Entry fee includes greens fees, cart fees, range balls, breakfast, lunch and dinner, embroidered golf shirt, transportation to and from the course, prizes and all beverages.


Queen City Shootout

4:30 registration for tourney participants; doors open to public at 9:30 p.m. Whisky River, 210 E. Trade St. $250 for individual players; $10 cover for spectators.

Test your poker skills against 2004 champion Gregory Raymer and other current and former sports celebs at the first Queen City Shootout charity poker tournament. Proceeds benefit the Make-A-Wish Foundation. For those who'd rather watch, bands Occasional Milkshake, Craving Melon and Blue Dogs will perform.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Sushi lounge, nightclub opening doors this weekend

Step inside a new nightlife venue in Charlotte these days and you're likely to come face-to-face with at least one giant gold Buddha.

Dharma has one, as does Enso, and when Fiji Sushi Bar & Lounge and the adjoining Kashmir nightclub open this weekend, you won't be able to avoid running into one just like that drunken one night stand you're hopelessly trying to dodge.

Yes, Eastern influence is all the rage in Charlotte right now, and Fiji and Kashmir are the latest to join in the philosophical fun.

I got a preview of the two new venues this weekend. Fiji is in the former home of Feast and Kashmir is in the final resting place of Liv.

Let's start with Fiji.

The Crowd: Management says the restaurant will be heavily influenced by Charlotte's fashion scene. TVs will be tuned into fashion channels, not football. A removable catwalk is being built that will be used for such fashion shows as the one Jordano's is doing at this weekend's grand opening. Expect well-heeled young professionals to turn out for sushi and fashion.

The Scene: Lots of red and white furniture (possibly refurbished from Feast) and a logo eerily similar to the Enso circle displayed prominently around the EpiCentre restaurant. Gone is the huge bar in the middle of the restaurant. Instead a long sushi bar with a waterfall for a backdrop has been added off to the side with a smaller full-service bar tucked into the front corner.

Food and Drink: I sampled some of the sushi and my wimpy palate for raw fish was impressed. The restaurant's Peruvian chef has managed to update many of the usual stale rolls with new flavors. My favorite of the night: the Firecracker Roll. Crunchy, sweet and spicy. For cocktails, try one of the Johnny Love mixed drinks. The brand of vodka popular out west is making its Charlotte debut.

Now, let's head downstairs to Kashmir.

With the low ceilings and minimal lighting, it feels like you're walking into an illegal, underground speakeasy where you can hide in shadowy corners. The layout hasn't changed much from Liv: same bar, same lounge furniture and the same mirror that tricks people into thinking it's another room (sit and watch how many people run into it one night. It's entertaining). As one partygoer said: "It's basically like Liv, with a bunch of Asian decorations added to it."

One new addition is the Zen Lounge or as the club's Chandler Alan Beal says, "Charlotte's first true VIP room." To access the lounge, you'll need to be a VIP gold card member, which entitles you to:
  • Entry for yourself and three guests
  • Private VIP entrance and exit with security detail if requested
  • Complimentary valet parking
  • Complimentary coat check
  • Onsite massage therapists
  • Concierge services
In addition, a table inside the lounge will feature T1 Visions touchscreen technology where you can order food and drinks, reserve a hotel room, access the Internet and more. It's the first in Charlotte in a nightclub setting. T1 Tapas in Huntersville also uses the technology.

The Curse: Beal acknowledges the curse that has seemingly plagued that stretch of Fifth Street between Church and Tryon streets (its victims include Twist, Daddy's, Menage, Hom and Belle's BBQ). He's hoping the two new openings will revitalize the area. In fact, the theme for Kashmir's Halloween party is "Nightmare on 5th Street: Lift The Curse."

Do you think they can do it?

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Double Door at the Lake back from dead?

An interesting e-mail just hit my inbox: the Double Door Inn at Lake Norman is set to reopen with the original owners taking the helm again.

Blue Monday will be the first band to play in the new (old) space, which has been entirely renovated.

The party re-starts this Friday.

***UPDATE*** The Double Door will NOT be opening this weekend due to a problem with the ABC permit. Owners say they are working hard to fix the issue. I'll keep you updated on the rescheduled re-grand opening. ***UPDATE***

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

This week's party picks

Here's the best of Charlotte nightlife this week:


Project: Homebrew

8 p.m. 511 E. 36th St. Free (including copy of CD).

Creative Loafing's music editor Jeff Hahne releases his latest Homebrew CD -- a compilation of local music. The release party at Neighborhood Theatre will feature a panel discussion on the local music scene and a concert featuring some of the acts who appear on the CD.

10 p.m. 820 Hamilton St. $10 donation.

Support your furry friends at Charlotte’s first Bow-Wow Ball, a fundraiser for Project Halo. Morgan Fogarty and Brotha' Fred will broadcast Fox News Edge live from Halo at the N.C. Music Factory. A silent auction will feature items from Tiffany & Co., Harper’s, Palm Beach Tan, Pine Island Country Club and more. And you can bid on your favorite Fox broadcaster to be your celebrity dog washer for a day. All proceeds benefit the no-kill animal shelter and sanctuary.

Beards BeCAUSE

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

Have superior facial-hair growing skills? Consider joining the two-month fundraising effort that is Beards BeCAUSE. The guys will kick off their growing season this weekend with their Clean Shaven Party. Live music from John Dungan, Pistoleros and Dr. Eu and Subdue’s. Beards BeCAUSE benefits United Family Services’ Shelter for Battered Women.


Wine, arts and food festival

11-7 p.m. Symphony Park at SouthPark. $10-$20.

Taste hundreds of wines from North Carolina and sample gourmet foods while listening to music at Symphony Park during the Great Grapes festival. Art exhibits will also be on display to peruse over your glass of Malbec.


Meet Liza, Reba and Madonna

8 p.m. and 10 p.m. 1919 Commonwealth Ave. $5.

“Illusionist” (read: female impersonator) Gigi Monroe of Atlanta comes to Petra’s to display her amazing transformations into such icons as Liza Minelli, Madonna and Reba McIntyre. Petra’s resident drag queen Roxy Moorecox will be doing her own impersonations of Cyndi Lauper and Boy George.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Where to watch tonight's game

Wanted to let you guys know about a couple of out-of-the-ordinary events going on in honor of tonight's matchup between the Panthers and the Cowboys:

  • WCNC will host a pregame special at Wild Wing Cafe at the EpiCentre tonight. WCNC's Greg Bailey and former Panther Mike Minter will be taping live before kickoff. The party starts at 7 and includes a wing-eating contest.
  • EpiCentre Theaters will be showing the game on one of the movie screens. Free admission; first come, first served. Prizes and giveaways. Specials include $2 Bud Lights and half-price wine; half-price chicken sliders. Cocktail waitresses will serve game-watchers in the theater.
Where will YOU watch?

Thursday, September 24, 2009

This week's party picks

Here's the best of Charlotte nightlife this weekend.


9 p.m. Tyvola Marriott, 5700 Westpark Drive. $10.

Be a kid again at this month’s PlayDate party. Games include Twister, Connect 4, Pac-Man and Wii Bowling – and don’t miss the always entertaining hula hoop contest.

Anniversary bash

4 p.m. 19712 One Norman Blvd., Cornelius. $5 donation.

On the Roxx martini bar celebrates five years in Lake Norman this weekend with a block party. Free food for the first two hours, live music, a fashion show, silent auction, and of course great drinks. Proceeds benefit the Huntington’s Disease Society of America.

Gimme Shelter benefit

8-11 p.m. Dilworth Neighborhood Grille, 911 E. Morehead St. $10.

Help raise funds for this winter’s Jingle Bell Ball at the Gimme Shelter benefit concert. Underground Detour performs live at this fundraiser for United Family Services’ Shelter for Battered Women.

’70s party

9 p.m. Visulite Theatre, 1615 Elizabeth Ave. $10 in advance; $12 day of show.

Join Nasty Productions and metal band Iron Cordoba for "Funk You: A '70s Flashback of Peace, Freaks and Hair Grease." Prizes will be awarded in the SupaFly Guy and Foxy Mamma costume contest, and don't forget your platform dancing shoes for the Soul Train dance-off.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

New to Charlotte?

Come join me, Observer columnist Tommy Tomlinson and WCNC news anchor Sonja Gantt at the Levine Museum of the New South tomorrow evening.

Tommy, Sonja and I will be speaking as part of the museum's New South for the New Southerner series, and we'll be talking about why we chose to live in Charlotte as well as giving a sneak peek of the Observer's annual newcomers magazine, Living Here. I'll specifically be talking about what makes the city appealing to young professionals.

The evening starts at 5:30 p.m. It's $5 per person. Wine and food will be provided by Mert's.

Hope to see you there!

Film Fest parties, plus win tickets!

The Fourth Annual Charlotte Film Festival is already under way, but it's not all about the movies. Just like SunDance (OK, maybe on an extremely small scale), it's about the after-parties, too.

Mingle with the directors and producers of this year's festival lineup at these receptions:


Awards Celebration: After the awards are handed out, you can see the Best Documentary winner. 6 p.m. Whisky River. $25 (includes party and admission to screening).


VIP and Filmmaker Reception: Meet the filmmakers and watch "Amreeka." 5 p.m. BlackFinn Saloon. $25. 


After-party: Celebrate the end of the festival at Therapy Cafe. Show your ticket stub to join VIPs, filmmakers and volunteers for one complimentary martini and appetizers. 10 p.m.-midnight. 

Win tickets!

I have two tickets to Friday night's screening of Michael Moore's "Capitalism" (9:15 at EpiCentre Theaters). Want 'em? First person to e-mail me gets them. ***UPDATE: Tickets gone. Thanks for playing!***

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Live music Thursdays continue this fall

For those of you mourning the end of Alive After Five this week, fear not: Whisky River is continuing the Thursday night live music tradition with a five-week concert series called "Rockin the River."

Jessie James and The Carter Twins open the series Oct. 1. Tickets are $15. Proceeds from the series benefit the Dale Jr. Foundation.

The rest of the schedule follows:

Oct. 8: Rehab, $15.

Oct. 15: Gavin DeGraw, $25.

Oct. 22: Blake Shelton following a live taping of QVC's race show with Junior, $25.

Oct. 29: Phil Vassar, $15.

Package deals are available for $75.

For more info, click here.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Stool Pigeons unveiling new look

The uptown sports bar temporarily closed Monday and is tentatively set to reopen next Wednesday with a new look and a new owner.

Greensboro's Rick Buckner bought the bar from CSM Restaurant Services -- which owns other Stool Pigeons locations around North Carolina -- but plans to keep the name and a loose affiliation with its namesake bars, according to manager J.K. Savilla.

Savilla says renovations include a much-needed audio and visual overhaul to add HD programming and plasma TVs throughout.

(Thanks to Rob for the tip!)

New bar set to open in Brevard Court

Courtyard Hooligans opens Friday, replacing the old George Herman's, which quietly closed in June.

The bar will be a European Soccer pub, serving up beers from all over the world, according to managing partner Kristian Pedersen.

The grand opening starts at 2 p.m. tomorrow and the party continues starting at 9:30 a.m. Saturday for the Arsenal game and even earlier on Sunday for the Manchester United vs. Manchester City game at 8:30 a.m. (No cover, but you do have to be a member. Sign up at the door.)

I give the guys props for coming up with a different concept than the rest of Charlotte's cookie-cutter sports bars, but I have to wonder whether there are enough soccer fans to sustain it.

What do you guys think?


Tonight's Alive After Five

Due to the expected rain showers tonight, Alive After Five will be held inside Whisky River.

Pink Floydian Slip performs.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

This week's party picks

Here's the best of Charlotte nightlife this week.


Mint After 5

6 p.m. 220 N. Tryon St. Free for members; $15 for nonmembers.

Toast the end of summer at 2009’s final Mint After 5, the semi-regular rooftop party thrown by Young Affiliates of the Mint at the Mint Museum of Craft + Design as a way for nonmembers to check out the group. Enjoy drink specials, free food and live music by Jared Allan and Co.

Blues & Burritos

6-10 p.m. 330 S. Main St., Mooresville. Donations accepted. (click on events).

For the past eight years, Homesley, Goodman & Wingo has held a party outside its law firm to raise money for charity. This year’s event benefits HealthReach Community Clinic and the Mooresville Soup Kitchen. Bands include The Part-Time Blues Band and Pat “Mother Blues” Cohen.

Jazz benefit concert

6 p.m. Presto Bar & Grill, 445 W. Trade St. $10.

Shelter Health Services, a free clinic for homeless women and children, hosts its annual benefit with jazz trumpeter Mark Rapp and Charlotte’s own Hipshack. A signed Panthers football will be up for auction and a raffle will be held.


Halfway to St. Patty’s Day

3 p.m. Crawl starts at Stool Pigeons, 214 N. Church St. $10 in advance.

Countdown to St. Patrick’s Day with this yearly bar crawl hosted by the same guys who organize the nationally recognized Rich & Bennett’s St. Patrick’s Day Pub Crawl. Eleven hours, eight bars, free T-shirts and, of course, drink specials.

Next week

Keep your calendars open Thursday for the final Alive After Five of the summer. Charlotte's own Simplified will perform.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

This week's party picks

Here's what's going on in Charlotte nightlife this week.

Guns N’ Hoses

8 p.m. 210 E. Trade St. $5 donation.

Help support the Charlotte firefighters and police officers at this special 97/11 tribute and fundraiser. A $5 donation at the door gets you two free drinks. All proceeds benefit the Charlotte Fire Department and the CMPD Fraternal Order of the Police.


Fashion Week afterparty

10 p.m. 1820 South Blvd. $10.

Wear your hottest haute couture (or Forever 21 as the case may be) to Sunset Club as fashionistas celebrate the end of Charlotte’s second Fashion Week.

Poker tournament

4 p.m. 200 E. Bland St. $150 entry fee.

Put on your p-p-p poker face for Speedway Children’s Charities. The group is hosting its second Charity Poker Tournament at Jillian’s, featuring free food, pool, ping pong and shuffleboard. Have some Texas Hold ‘Em skills? Play your hand at one of the nine tables and help raise money for a good cause.

Buck’s Backyard Bash

6 p.m. 400 Hermitage Road. $100.

The Duke Mansion wants you to get our your dancing shoes for its annual fundraiser to help preserve and protect the historic meeting place in Myers Park. Fun cover band Hot Sauce -- singing the best of the '70s, '80s and '90s -- will provide the groovy tunes.

Panthers parties kick off Friday

Panthers parties begin in earnest this weekend with the first home game of the season (thankfully those preseason games were just practice). The blue-and-black celebrations start Friday and continue through Sunday’s 1 p.m. kickoff. Here’s a sampling:

  • Bud Light Prowl Party. The Panther Prowl is back at the EpiCentre for a second season. Head up to the Pavilion every Friday starting at 5 p.m. before a home game. This week, Bud Light is casting fans in a commercial for its weekly tailgate party that will be aired on the big screen at Bank of America stadium. Ladies, you’ll be competing in a Locker Room Challenge and men will face a skills competition. Must be 25 years or older and available for filming on Sunday at 9:30 a.m. The 20 selected for the commercial will get two tickets to Sunday’s game, entry into the Bud Light Tailgate (complimentary food and drinks at the corner of Mint and Morehead streets) and a Bud Light Panthers jersey. (210 E. Trade St.;
  • Rally in the Alley (Cat). Stop by Alley Cat on Saturday and you could win Miller Lite suite passes to the Panthers home opener. Or try your luck at paper football in the Finger Flick Challenge. It’s all part of a new regular party – hosted by WFNZ’s The Hitman – at the uptown bar. Other highlights include live music by Crash Box, a flip-pong tournament, a performance by the Alley Cat dancers and a free wing buffet from 8-10 p.m. (314 N. College St.;
  • Sunday Funday. Get to Stool Pigeons at 10 a.m. Sunday to pop the first $2 Bud Light of the season (hey, it’s five o’clock somewhere, right?), sample the new breakfast menu and get a prime table in front of the bar’s wall of TVs. You can also make a table reservation (for parties of six or more) by e-mailing (214 N. Church St.;
  • WFNZ Dog House. A staple before Panthers home games is WFNZ’s Dog House that sits in the shadow of the stadium at Mint and Morehead streets. It’s open only on game days when the WFNZ on-air team broadcasts from the bar and fans use it as a tailgating/meeting/game-watching spot. Just added to the back patio is a patch of lush green grass painted to look like a football field where fans can play cornhole. Big Daddy’s is among the vendors grilling burgers and BBQ for tailgaters this season. The Dog House opens two hours before every home game and stays open as late as two hours after the game ends.
Not a Panthers fan?

Looking for a spot to watch football where Steve Smith jerseys won’t block your view? A number of area bars cater to Charlotte transplants from the north.

  • Catch Michael Vick’s return to the NFL at Eagles bar Steamers. (1513 Pierson Drive)
  • Hail to the Redskins at Picasso’s Dilworth location (1301 East Blvd.) or uptown at Whisky River. (210 E. Trade St., inside the EpiCentre).
  • Hooters in Concord reserves its indoor patio every week for the Cowboys Fan Club. (7702 Gateway Lane, Concord)
  • Twirl your Terrible Towel at Steelers bars Dixie’s Tavern (301 E. Seventh St.) or Hickory Tavern’s Providence Road location (11504 Providence Road).
  • Watch Eli Manning’s quest for a second Super Bowl at Giants bar O’Shea’s (8120 Ardrey Kell Road).
  • See if Tom Brady still has it this season at Patriots bar Beantown Tavern (130 Matthews Station St.).
  • Will T.O. catch the game-winning touchdown? Check him out at Bills bars Tavern on the Tracks (1411 S. Tryon St.) and Town Tavern (200 N. Tryon St.).
Know of others? Post them in comments below.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Dharma Lounge opens in South End

After months of delays and a location change, Dharma Lounge opens its doors this weekend in South End. I got a first look at the place last night at its Friends & Family party.

I first wrote about Dharma just over a year ago, when plans called for it to be part of the Silos Subdistrict. Owner Eric Pliner, a former partner in Tonic, says those plans fell through when the developer lost his loan.

Now in its current location at Tryon and West Summit, Dharma adds to the growing lineup of nightlife options in South End, joining Apostrophe, Common Market, Gin Mill and Amos'. (And opening soon in the same block is a 5,700-square-foot dance club.)

The Scene: The lounge -- designed by Pliner's co-owner Lora Campbell -- is heavily influenced by the pair's background in Eastern philosophy. Decor is minimalist -- a lotus-blossom mural and a giant gold Buddha are the focal points, while the deep red walls fill in the rest. Day beds swathed in sheer red curtains and scattered with throw pillows serve as cozy places to rest your feet or cuddle up. An outdoor patio is enclosed with tall bamboo and that natural, organic feel also is reflected in the branch-like detail along the bar inside.
Bartenders are plentiful and drink prices are shockingly low -- a mixed drink cost me $4.50 in a town where $6-$8 is the norm.
Pliner says that was intentional and will remain so: "We all know what's going on with the economy," he says. "For longevity purposes and to get people to come in more than once or twice a week, we want to keep prices low."
And it's more than a bar -- Pliner plans to offer free detox yoga classes starting the weekend of Sept. 19. The classes, which will be open to all levels, will start at 1 p.m. both Saturday and Sunday.

The Crowd: A friendly, funky alternative bunch turned out last night -- decidedly not like the people you might find at the EpiCentre. "It won't be a downtown crowd," Pliner says. "We know this -- we're a neighborhood lounge." Curiously, the guy-to-girl ratio was extremely high at Friends & Family. I'll be interested to see if that evens out as more people hear about it. Among the partygoers last night were high-profile attorney Bill Diehl and local songwriter Stephen Warwick.

The Music: A house blend with a live singer accompanying the DJ, That Guy Smitty. Pliner says that the lounge isn't tied to one genre. "We're not going to have one theme," he says. "We'll go from house to electro to drum and bass, and even some retro dance."

The Details: Dharma's grand opening starts Friday with DJ Riddim King and Tredamit. Saturday, Dharma will welcome a surprise internationally known DJ. The party starts at 8 p.m. For more information, click here.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

This week's party picks

Here's the best of Charlotte nightlife this week.


Mix at Six

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

Check out Ballantyne's version of Alive After Five at the first of fall's Mix at Six series. Simplified performs.


Steelers vs. Panthers

The Panthers take on Big Ben and the Steelers in this week's preseason game. If you're a Steelers fan, head to Dixie's to hang with the rest of your Terrible Towel twirling peeps. Panthers fans, check out the tailgate party in Brevard Court, featuring corn hole, beer pong, flip cup and prizes. (If you're looking for a permanent place to tailgate this season, consider joining the Friends of St. Jude tailgating group at Church and Second streets. You can sign up at Angry Ale's after the game Thursday. The $125 membership dues include free food and drinks and are tax deductible, directly benefitting St. Jude's.) 

Thirsty Thursday

7:15 p.m. Knights Stadium, Fort Mill. $7-$13.

The Knights kick off their final home stand tonight in Fort Mill which means only one Thirsty Thursday left in the season. Get out to Knights Stadium and enjoy $1 beers and $1 sodas. 

RockHouse night

8 p.m. Corner of Fifth and College streets.

Start your long weekend off by knocking back a few cold ones courtesy of RockHouse Events. The professional partying company is buying two kegs at Buckhead Saloon. Just mention RockHouse at the door and you’re all set until supplies run out.


Charlotte Music Festival

3 p.m. 400 W. Tremont Ave. $10.

Fifty bands are set to pack Tremont Music Hall for two days of metal this weekend. Among them: Lucky Five, Final Curse and Junior Doctor. One ticket grants you head-banging access to both days.


Labor Day Luau

6 p.m. 210 E. Trade St. (in the EpiCentre). $5.

More than $500 in cash and prizes will be given away at Howl at the Moon’s holiday bash. Drink specials include $2.75 Coors Light, $6 Beach Bombs and $25 86-ounce Paradise Skyy buckets.


Race for the Cure Kickoff Party

5-9 p.m. Cans, 500 W. Fifth St. Free ($5 donation earns you a pink bracelet).

The 2009 Race for the Cure is a little less than a month away and Charlotte's affiliate of the Susan G. Komen Foundation is working to build the buzz surrounding the big event. At next week's kickoff party hosted by radio personality Jacinda of 96.1 The Beat, guests can wear pink, make a donation and celebrate with friends. ($2 beers, $4 Red Bull vodkas and light appetizers will be served.)