Friday, August 21, 2009

Next week's party picks

To my five faithful readers (Hi Mom!), I'll be off the blogosphere all next week as part of my mandatory furlough.

To help get you through this very difficult absence, I bring you my picks for nightlife next week. And if any of you check out the new Luna or Enso, I'd love to hear your thoughts. Keep me updated here. Regular posting will resume Aug. 31.

Aug. 28

Calling all SEC Alumni

5:30-7:30 p.m. Dixie's Tavern, 301 E. Seventh St. No cover.

The 2009 football season kicks off next week and alums from Alabama, Arkansas, Auburn, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, LSU, Mississippi State, Ole Miss, South Carolina, Tennessee and Vanderbilt are invited to shelve their rivalry for one night to celebrate their love of SEC sports. Free appetizers and drink specials provided. Wear your school gear.

Ballantyne Nightlife Crawl

6:30 p.m. Register uptown at Town Tavern, 200 N. Tryon St. $10.

Check out the best of the 'burbs on the second Ballantyne bar crawl. Cost includes transportation to and from each of the five locations (Town Tavern, City Tavern, On the Roxx, O'Shea's and a private party at LA East), ice cold beer on the bus and no covers.

Aug. 29

Three Olives launches new flavor

9 p.m. 820 Hamilton St. (inside the N.C. Music Factory). To get on the invite list, e-mail

Come test out the new Bubble O vodka at Halo's Martini Madness party. will host an open Three Olives bar from 9-11 p.m.

Joint anniversary celebration

9 p.m. 1440 S. Tryon St. No cover.

PopLife – the popular free weekly party brought to you by The Sol Kitchen and Creative Loafing – marks two years of packing any venue it's in. For the past year, that's been SouthEnd's Apostrophe Lounge, which will celebrate its first birthday at the Special Saturday edition of PopLife. DJ DR and DJ Frase – both PopLife regulars – will provide the music to keep the party going well into the night.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Late-night sushi coming to EpiCentre

After a six-month lull in grand openings, the EpiCentre is preparing to unveil what’s sure to be the entertainment complex’s next hotspot. Enso Asian Bistro will fill a void currently felt uptown: a late-night sushi bar.

I got a sneak peek of Enso (say in-zoh) ahead of its opening next week* courtesy of co-owner Pete Lloyd, 38, a service industry veteran who’s been in the nightlife business since he was 23. (He’s currently the owner of Fire Island Grille in Myrtle Beach.)

Lloyd and partner Erez Sukarchi say they have painstakingly researched the country’s best sushi bars, studying everything from the food to the d├ęcor. Lloyd says Enso is inspired by places like Tao in Las Vegas, and Nobu and Buddakan in New York, where they met with chefs to discuss different food concepts.

“We want it to have a Vegas-type feel,” Lloyd says. “(The EpiCentre) has the sports bars and the nightclubs, but this is going to be an upbeat lounge. We like to call it ‘vibe dining.’”

The 8,000-square-foot space on the EpiCentre’s first level has been transformed into a sleek take on the Land of the Rising Sun. Bronzy reds are the color scheme throughout, reflected in sheer curtains around the bar and lining the floor-to-ceiling windows. Faux crocodile and snakeskin furniture give the place a luxurious feel. Asian-themed pieces are dotted throughout: two giant, marble fu dogs (a cross between a dragon and a lion) greet you as you enter; a Buddha sits behind the bar; a sumo wrestler watches over the lounge area; and black-and-white kung fu movies are projected onto a wall.

Patrons can choose to sit in the main dining area, at the 35-foot sushi bar, or the lounge-bar area where bar stools, booths and banquet seating are plentiful. Outdoor seating among bamboo plants accommodates another 50 people.

What sets Enso apart from other similar concepts is its location and its late service (sushi is served until 2 a.m.; regular menu items until midnight).

“No one else is doing this uptown right now,” says Bob Durkin of Bar Management Group, which manages much of the EpiCentre’s after-dark venues. “This is the one concept that people are most excited about.”

Both Lloyd and Durkin see it as a place where people will stop for dinner before a night out dancing or for a low key, late-night option.

I see the place becoming like the Nikko of uptown, where girls come dressed to kill in their cutest outfits and guys come to check them out.

*Enso is doing a soft opening this weekend ahead of its official grand opening that starts with an invite-only press party on Wednesday. Sign up for tickets to the VIP grand opening Thursday (7-9 p.m.) by clicking here.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

This week's party picks

Here's the best of Charlotte nightlife this week.

6:45 p.m. 301 E. Seventh St. $20.

School’s back in session, the days are getting shorter and Labor Day is quickly approaching – as is fall. Celebrate (or mourn) the end of summer with a cruise on Lake Norman courtesy of RockHouse Events. Start the night with a free buffet at Dixie’s before boarding buses up to the Ragin’ Uptown Party Yacht.

Town Tavern opens

5 p.m. 200 N. Tryon St. Sign up for tickets and free membership at

Be one of the first to check out the new sports bar opening on North Tryon in Brick & Barrel’s old location. Warning to Panthers fans: It’s a Buffalo bar.


Save Second Base

2 p.m. 115 E. Fifth St. $35 for teams of two; $65 for four. Send team name and player names to

Help raise money for the Avon Walk for Breast Cancer by testing your drinking game skills in a “barcathalon.” Connolly’s will host a beer pong and cornhole tournament, Buckhead Saloon will run the Flip Cup portion of the evening, and awards will be handed out at Howl at the Moon. A prize also goes to the “breast”-dressed team, so get creative.

Lazy Day marks nine years

8-11 p.m. 314 N. College St. Print invitation for free entry at

The nightlife Web site celebrates its ninth birthday of snapping photos of inebriated partygoers with – what else? – a party. Stop by Alley Cat and enjoy free Bud Light drafts on’s tab (while supplies last) and watch out for the cameras. 

Win tickets!

I've got a bunch of free tickets to give away to Town Tavern's grand opening festivities this week.

I have three pairs for Thursday's VIP party and five pairs for Friday's grand opening.

In honor of the bar's Bills affiliation, the tickets will go to the first eight people to tell me what Terrell Owens and his assistants chanted on his VH1 reality show when they found out he was playing for Buffalo.

Good luck!

Thursday, August 13, 2009

A new take on trivia night

Tuesday is traditionally considered an off-night in the world of bars and clubs. Places that are open daily feverishly try different gimmicks to get partygoers in the door. Some succeed (Rusty Rudder, Whisky River and the Flying Saucer), but most fail miserably.

Relatively new to the tricky Tuesday is Petra's Piano Bar & Cabaret in Plaza Midwood, which holds a weekly trivia night hosted by funny drag queen Roxy Moorecox. Petra's was just voted last week as Best Gay/Lesbian Bar in Charlotte by Creative Loafing. And judging by the overflowing tables and standing-room-only status at this week's one-year anniversary party, Moorecox has done for the gay community what Whisky River has done for the under-21 crowd: A fun Tuesday night that packs the house.

In just one year, the bar has gone from hosting four teams for a total of 10 people to regularly bringing in 20 teams or more each week. (The record is 32 teams for Roxy's birthday a few months ago.)

What sets Tuesday Trivia at Petra's apart from other similar game nights is Moorecox herself. The larger-than-life drag queen plays the part of trivia hostess, cabaret singer and stand-up comic all at once, turning trivia night into an entertaining show.

Questions range from the biblical (What was the angel's name who visited Mary?) to literary (What current magician has the same name as a historic novel's character?), and this week included a Name That Tune round.

To break up the game, Moorecox leads singalongs ("Karma Chameleon" and "You Don't Own Me") and toasts (usually raunchy in nature), making a competitive event into a -- cheesy as it may sound -- community bonding experience.

The fun continues next week starting at 9 (team sign-up starts at 8:30). Roxy also leads the bar's karaoke nights on Wednesdays, and this Sunday she'll be performing a live cabaret at Petra's starting at 8 p.m. ($5 general admission).

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

This week's party picks

Here's what's going on this weekend.


Irish Summer Festival

7 p.m. Friday at Connolly’s (115 E. Fifth St.). Saturday festival starts at noon at Third and Tryon streets. Free until 5 p.m. ($10 cover after 5).

This year’s festival kicks off with a party at Connolly’s on Friday night before taking over the streets on Saturday with a block party. Activities will include live music from Irish and Celtic bands such as My Three Kilts and the Dublin City Ramblers, Irish dancers, bagpipers, a Highland games exhibition, and a world record attempt for the largest choreographed Irish dance.

Uptown Cooldown

5-7 p.m. 201 N. Tryon St. No cover.

Uptown magazine continues its budget-friendly bimonthly party this week. The latest stop will be at Nix, where partygoers can chill with Firefly Sweet Tea Vodka sno-cones, free appetizers and a few frames of Wii bowling.


2009 Summer Collaborative

Noon-10 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. 820 Hamilton St. $20.

Emanicipated Logik, Nuthing Clothing and the N.C. Music Factory host a music festival this weekend, featuring 20 bands as well as artists and poets over two days. Featured acts will include the Lights, Fluorescent, Eyes of the Elders and Incognito Mosquito.

Alpha Luau

10 p.m. 911 E. Morehead St. $30.

The Alphas of Charlotte want you to breeze on down to The Big Chill this weekend for their annual luau. (Think Hawaiian-print dress and linen pants.) DJ Flemingo will provide the music and heavy hors d'oeuvres will be served. Proceeds benefit the educational initiatives of the chapter throughout the Charlotte-Mecklenburg community.

Latorre's closing, nightclub moving

After 10 years on Fifth Street, Latorre's Restaurant is closing.

Its last day of business will be Saturday, according to an e-mail this morning announcing the closing. The nightclub portion of Latorre's that regularly draws salsa lovers will move to the top floor of the old Hom complex next door. 

The nightclub -- opening Aug. 21 -- joins Fiji Sushi Bar & Lounge and Kashmere to round out the multilevel space that closed in April.

No word on what will replace the restaurant.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Luna Lounge set to open

Just got the details on Luna's grand opening next week. The sleek ultra lounge (from the same people who brought you Sunset Club and Kiss Lounge) is on North College Street, in the space once occupied by the ill-fated Coyote Ugly.

According to a Facebook invite:

"LUNA will unveil itself as Charlotte's premier party destination for those who enjoy their drinking, socializing and dancing all in one place. ... Featuring upscale service and buzzworthy events hosted by Rumba Productions, Mingleberry, KPG, Red Door (just to name a few), this venue strikes to the heart of the super spoiled socialite in all of us. But does this place really live up to the hype? Slap on your best runway model attire next week and decide for yourself."

The grand opening festivities run Aug. 21-22, from 8-10 p.m. Complimentary appetizers and cocktails (RSVP to Opens to the general public at 10 p.m.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Burlesque troupes taking off

It’s 11 on a Friday night. In a dimly lit underground club, girls in stockings, garters and corsets mingle with customers before taking the stage. A smart-mouthed, chain-smoking announcer clad in shirtsleeves and a vest announces the performers to catcalls from the crowd – Mistress Colette, Cherry Von Bomb, Mademoiselle Kashka among them.

Photo courtesy of Shannon J Hager

But it’s not 19th-century Paris, and this isn’t the Moulin Rouge.

Instead, it’s 2009 and the art of burlesque is enjoying a resurgence in Charlotte, thanks to such local troupes as La Petite Mort Burlesque and Big Mamma’s House of Burlesque.

Deana Pendragon (affectionately known as Big Mamma D) started her group in 2006. She puts on a themed show bimonthly at Elizabeth’s Visulite Theatre, drawing a surprisingly female-heavy (and vocal) audience. This month’s theme was “Under the Big Tops,” complete with an act from Sideshow Bennie, a few tricks from Hannibal the Magician and a striptease from “Siamese twins.”

Although the Big Mamma’s girls do take off their heavily sequined and fringed costumes (made by Mamma D herself), there’s no nudity – just a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it flash of pastie-covered breasts. Instead, Pendragon’s show harkens to classic burlesque: There’s singing, sketch comedy and usually a few tongue-in-cheek stripteases (read: the Siamese twins above).

Mena Killough’s La Petite Mort is a little more risque, at times bordering on crass. Miss Mena’s girls – including Colette, Cherry and Kashka – perform monthly at Halo at the N.C. Music Factory. Pasties here are revealed for longer than just a flash, and dollar bills are thrown onstage.

Performances at their most recent show last month included a strange pas de deux between a naughty nurse and her mentally ill patient, and an equally jarring S&M-laced routine. (To be sure, there’s some classic burlesque mixed in: a cupcake-adorned “baker” stripped down to little more than an apron in a cute dance.)

One word of advice: Don’t go into these shows expecting a Dita Von Teese look-alike in a giant martini glass or a song-and-dance routine a la the Pussycat Dolls. Instead, it’s about classic burlesque that gives women of all shapes and sizes a feeling of empowerment.

Also, there are two rules to every burlesque show:

  1. Applause is encouraged any time an article of clothing -- whether it be a shoe or a corset -- is removed.
  2. No photos once the bras come off.
La Petite Mort Burlesque

Next show: Aug. 21 at 11 p.m. Halo (inside the N.C. Music Factory), 820 Hamilton St. $7.

Big Mamma's House of Burlesque

Next show: Oct. 10 at 8 p.m. Visulite Theatre, 1615 Elizabeth Ave. $12 in advance.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

This week's party picks


BlackFinn’s first birthday

9 p.m. 210 E. Trade St. $5.

BlackFinn Saloon celebrates its first year of business with a birthday bash. Staff will be giving away prizes all night long, including hotel stays at the Omni and aloft, gift certificates to other EpiCentre venues, T-shirts and more. Checkers cheerleaders and the Bobcats Lady Cats will be guest bartending and mingling with partygoers, as well as former Panther Rod Smith.

Coldplay concert bus

5 p.m. Buckhead Saloon, corner of Fifth and College streets. $20.

Heading to Verizon Wireless Amphitheatre for the Coldplay concert? Let RockHouse Events cover your ride with a trip north on the Ragin’ Uptown Party Bus. Beers provided on the bus and drink specials will be available at Buckhead Saloon before and after the show.


Free concert series

8 p.m. 210 E. Trade St. Free.

The EpiCentre wraps up its popular free summer concert series with a performance by the Pat McGee Band. Your concert wristband will get you free entry into Suite, Whisky River, BlackFinn and StrikeCity after the show.

Marquee Saturdays

10 p.m. 820 Hamilton St. (inside the N.C. Music Factory) $10.

Funny what a little name change and a new party can do for a club. Saturday night at Halo (formerly the Garden & Gun Club) has quickly become the hot spot a mere month after kicking off its new Marquee Saturdays promotion. What to expect: wall-to-wall people, a few celeb sightings (Julius Peppers made an appearance a couple of weeks ago), an elaborate light show and fun dance music from DJ 208.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

First look at Town Tavern

Buffalo Bills fans, rejoice!

You now have a new spot to watch TO's hissy fits.

Just got the official news release on Town Tavern, the replacement for Brick & Barrel. New owner (and St. Bonaventure University alum) Andrew Reid is teaming up with Bar Management Company to make it a hotspot for former Buffalo residents.

The new tavern will be a two-story sports bar and casual hangout.

"Stop by and throw a game of darts, shoot some pool, or just knock back a few with your buddies," according to the news release. "Town Tavern is sure to have the fun Happy Hour vibe Charlotte is looking for."

The bar will be open daily from 3 p.m.-2 a.m. and the grand opening is set for Aug. 21. For more info and to get your free tickets to the party, click here.

Monday, August 3, 2009

Brick & Barrel has a replacement

Just got word from the owners of 200 N. Tryon St. that they have a new tenant for the old Brick & Barrel space.

Town Tavern is tentatively set to open Aug. 21.

Details to come ...