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.


ed hardly said...

you forgot to mention the continued influx of ed hardy, gel tipped individuals that come from north of the mason-dixon line!!! They are a major cog in the nightlife scene.

David said...

Thank you Sarah, I enjoyed reading your column. I wish you the best of luck in Atlanta!

Anonymous said...

Well said Sarah. I hope people will continue to discover and support the local scene. NoDa provides a fantastic time. They have a come as you are attitude where everyone can be themselves. I love the staff at Solstice Tavern. They are professional and attentive. I don't have to wait for my next drink and the outdoor deck is incredible. And yes, please save the Ed Hardy shirts for Vegas.

Brandon said...

Good luck in Atlanta. You never mentioned what you'll be doing in Atlanta. Covering Entertainment? Fashion? Obituaries? Classifieds? Could you post a comment saying what you'll be doing?

Anonymous said...

This is the second goodbye from a CO reporter this week. Dang, dropping like flys. Good luck babydoll. I always wanted to get in one of your pictures you post, but I wanted to be REALLY wasted,

Anonymous said...

The gay bars are closing becasue the market has spoken. One gay bar is plenty for ANY city. What you call "alternative lifestyle", we call sin.

Mark Robertson and Family

Sarah Aarthun said...

Brandon, I'm going to be a newsdesk editor at CNN.

anti-redneck said...

Mark Robertson, maybe you would be happier if you moved out of Charlotte to be with more like minded people. I would suggest Iraq or Saudi Arabia. Those people agree with your narrow minded bigoted ideals of the world. Live and let live.

Candice said...

The gay bars are not welcome here and I hope they never are. With our southern routes and religious background, that is what makes Charlotte so special and unique. I moved out of Atlanta because the morals were not where I wanted to raise children and I hope this city remembers where it came from while growing in a positive manner. Sarah, good luck in ATL, it is a great city, as I lived there 21 years of my life.

Anonymous said...

Mark Robertson and Family,

You are a fine example of why talent like Sarah high tail it out of here as soon as possible.

You are a disgrace.

Anonymous said...

WOW congratulations!! What an opportunity! You've done great job! I agree we don't have to be NYC and we shouldn't try. I much preferred the more laid back scene to the $10 covers, loud music and scantily clad bartenders! Thomas Street has always been one of my favorite hangouts!

New York Hardy said...

simple rules to having a successful bar include hiring young sleazy girls to serve the beerbellied 40 somethings. You must induce the ed hardy crowd that your bar is LUxury and VIP type. Finally and most importantly only COOL places charge 4 bucks for a miller lite

pirmin said...

Mark and Candice...Godd 'ol bigoted Charlotte. One reason I don't--and would never--live there or anywhere close to the kkkristian taliban south.

Anonymous said...

Sarah, It looks like you're going from one sinking ship to another. Too bad. I enjoy your column. Best of luck to you.

Anonymous said...

Mark & Candice-

I hope your children have a positive and loving influence in their lives who can teach them about manners. Something your parents failed at.

Anonymous said...

Have fun in Atlanta, Sarah, it's an awesome place. You'll love L5P and Virginia Highlands. Buckhead has some redeeming places as well just so long as you stay off of Peachtree & Piedmont.

Ed Hardy & geltips = Charlotte's downfall

Mark - Your first sentence is correct, the market has spoken. The second sentence is your opinion and you would have been better to leave it off.

Alexis said...

Best of luck to you, Sarah! Thank you for mentioning Dilworth Billiards - they're one of my favorites!!

Anonymous said...

Mark and Candice do not speak for all of us from the South. I am a happily married Republican and appreciate different lifestyles and choices as that is what makes us all unique. I would much rather look at 2 hot chicks together eating sushi and 2 gay dudes fixing their homes up for Southern Living than looking and living in a single-wide and watching the ugly and surly married like Mark and Candice. If you want boring and basic, their are plenty of small towns in rural America - see ya!

Anonymous said...

Can you get me a job downthere also? Time to blow this sinking ship.

Mayor Pat

Harris said...

Anonymous said...
The gay bars are closing becasue the market has spoken. One gay bar is plenty for ANY city. What you call "alternative lifestyle", we call sin.

Mark Robertson and Family

Really, you chose to preach on the paid to party blog. With so much hatred in your heart I am sure you are the life of the party. It is not my lifestyle but on the same not it is not my place to judge.

Anonymous said...

Good luck in Atlanta Sarah.

As for Mark Robertson's and Candice's comments, I totally agree. Even though I have gay friends, I don't have to agree with every aspect of their life, as they don't have to agree with mine. You who call them bigoted and closed-minded, look in the mirror. People are always going to have beliefs different from your own. YOU are the ones who are bigoted and closed-minded. I may not agree with all opinions, but at least I welcome them. For everyone who doesn't like Charlotte, this Charlotte native says to go back where you came from; we were perfectly happy without you.

Anonymous said...

Have any of you PRO gay bar people even been in a gay bar, or are you just jumpin' on the band wagon?

Anonymous said...

More gay bars? Are you crazy? Wait a sec... I know why, you're gay right? What Charlotte needs is just better bars and clubs period. Wether you're gay or straight if a club is off the hook it will attract ALL people. A club/bar that sets itself up for just one type of person is really setting itself up for failure now days which is probably why the ones you listed are now closed.

Anonymous said...

Good luck in Atlanta - dodge the bullets! I've seen Dilworth Billiards turn many away because of no membership - welcoming only their select crowd. Gin Mill and Comet Grille have my vote for great neighborhood bars. As for the gay scene - the gay population will never be large enough to financially support more than one venue. My gay friends feel right at home in a neighorhood"straight" bar. That's how it should be; no reason to segregate.

Michael Szarowicz said...

Best of luck and congratulations Sarah. I've always enjoyed your columns and REALLY appreciate your mustache-judging prowess. Here's wishing you all the best!

PS - we'll keep fighting the good fight here on the diverstity & inclusion front.

Anonymous said...

Our "Southern routes"... really?

You mean like Route 74 from Gastonia to Wilmington? You're proud of the roadways through the south? I don't know, they seem like regular old roads to me.

Anonymous said...

I'll take the Ed Hardy and geltips over a bunch of mullets and bible thumpers any time. Gelled hair, and gays for that matter, make a city scene more hip and urban. A true city welcomes all types of people where people can co-exist peacefully. Candice, Mark and the rest of the prudes can go to the Golden Corral in Gastonia if they don't like it. Sarah, best of luck to you at the CNN desk. The experience will be priceless.

Anonymous said...

On a pure practical and pragmatic note, gay bars will not thrive in a city like Charlotte due to the fact that they are highly sexually charged and will attract individuals that are basically looking for sex. The bars with the scantily dressed ladies are also geared towards the male population, mostly middle aged divorced and married men, horny young guys, and generally promiscous women. The real fun are the bars where you can have a good time, nice talk, and where friends can be themselves without thinking about sex all the time. The sex might happen, but it is better when it is not the ultimate goal.


jeff said...

to all who hide behind anonymous,

It is real easy to hide behind an anonymous post. Mark simply wrote that he does not agree with homosexuality. Unlike you politically correct dimwits, he has morals and sticks to them. Guess what, most people who are christian dont agree with homosexuality and that lifestyle, BUT THEY DONT ACT LIKE A-HOLES AND BLAST GAYS FOR THEIR LIFESTYLE. Yes i know that there are religious people who have very strong feelings on this topic, but i didnt read anything on here like that. geez, im soooooooooo sick and tired of this crap. He had a point of view and simply stated it. He didnt use any derrogatory language or insite hate! He just said he thought it was immoral. I dont care if you sleep with sheep, thats your choice, but dont you dare blast mark because he simply stated his feelings in a peaceful way. Pick up a bible and read it sometime, you might learn how to be a better person!!!

Anonymous said...

Good luck! I enjoyed reading your column.

Anonymous said...

How does hair gel make a city hip? Hair gel is probably one of the most un-hip thing there is. I haven't seen a whole lot of mullets in Charlotte either...

Anonymous said...

Ah, Charlotte. A city thats only unique trait is that it is incredibly juvenile.

Anonymous said...

"Really, you chose to preach on the paid to party blog."

Why not? Sarah chose to preach on her way out...

Anonymous said...

New movie being filmed in Charlotte

"South End Story"

The Gays vs. the Jel-haired Eddy Hardy's

with cameo's from bible thumping psychopaths

Anonymous said...

The question is not whether someone personally agrees or disagrees with a gay person or their lifestyle. The question is how the community as a whole treats a gay person in their midst. Just about any city that is prospering and metropolitan is not threatened by the presence of gays walking amongst them. These same communities have also let certain christians express themselves as well. The only difference is they don't let one chosen lifestyle run rampant over other people's choices. Many cities that people say are great for 'raising a family' are also very tolerant and welcoming gays, blacks, foreigners, single people, artists, you name it. There is still a faction here that still cant get over the fact that Charlotte is not run by white, southern, christian males that live in Myers Park anymore. The last five years alone have shown that Charlotte has changed, especially the last city council election. If Charlotte is going to be a true American metropolis, it cannot get tied up in in a wad if a few gay bars open in prominent areas, or if 'Angels in America' is played at a local theater, or if interracial couples walk hand in hand down the street, or if a radio station plays a foreign language, etc. It's time that Charlotte starts acting like Atlanta, Minneapolis, Boston, even Durham and Asheville, and embrace other lifestyles in the public eye. I look forward to seeing more bars, restaurants, and entertainment options geared towards gays, blacks, foreigners, and other non-mainstream entities, all within walking distance of each other so the streets have a diverse and egalitarian feel where all walks of life can coexist and exchange ideas. Until then, we are just another provincial, southern one-horse town.

Austin said...

Unfortunately for you, Charlotte is still run by white males (and some females) that live in Myers Park (actually Eastover, but you probably don't know the difference). I used to live in Atlanta and I assure you that it isn't the liberal utopia you just described. And, by the way, "prospering" does not mean gay-inclusive. Texas is thriving by every measure imagineable. California is dying and its population is leaving. I'm going to go out on a limb and say that your logic is backwards.

Anonymous said...

If white males ran this city as they always did until the pc idiots stole it then Charlotte would be in great shape since it was afterall white males who founded this nation and intended it to for the top tier European.

Sinking? America is sinking because of what is occuring in this increasingly diverse mutt mess civilization where in the end the only pure organisms will be AKC dog or cats and we know they are always considered superior to mutts who are put to sleep at the pound.

Like Pat Buchannan just wrote about, diversity destroyed Rome and it will America.

Anonymous said...

Let's see, how many can I irritate with a couple of facts ...

I've been to lots of gay bars as part of my work (musician), and I'm not gay, and I can easily say there are among THE friendliest places you can be. (Some of the lesbians can be a tad hostile toward men, but that's another post). I'm also a libertarian AND a practicing Christian. Gasp! Can those things coexist? YES!

And good luck, Sarah. Our loss is Atlanta's gain.

Anonymous said...

Wow! Sounds like someone's defending inbreeding. Probably the product of it.

Mia said...

Best of luck! I remember when you started and I'm sorry to see you go. However, I'm glad you found a great spot and a new challenge. You will be missed!

Tribe said...

Sadly, I am too often reminded when reading these comments why I left Charlotte (my home) some years ago. When I had the chance to return recently, I chose not to.

I fail to understand why so many Christians choose to try to impose their morality on others.

And FTR, I'm straight, married and 55 years old. There is much I love and miss about Charlotte, but the close-mindedness is too prevalent for me to live there again.

Good luck in your new endeavor, Sarah.

Anonymous said...

Atlanta cant suck worse than Charlotte.

Anonymous said...

Good luck in Atlanta!

This gay guy enjoys all aspects of Charlotte. Our community is not soley defined by bars. And we are not going anywhere.

And those that dissaprove of our lifestyle have every right to.

We are not going back into the closet. Cities are by their nature a mixture of people=Diverse.

Get over it or stay home.

Anonymous said...

Good Bye.

Anonymous said...

Good luck Sarah, sad to see you go.

I think the biggest problem that some bars/clubs have is they forget that they are in the customer service industry. The ones that appreciate their customers and give them what they want will last, the ones that are just out to make a buck won't. It amazes me how some clubs will let their employees act like complete a-holes to customers. This goes for both straight and gay clubs.

For the narrow minded commenters, what makes the way you think about the world any different then those in Iraq, Pakistan, Iran, etc.? Just because you believe in something doesn't make it right, or for everyone. They have a lot of growing up to do and so do you. What if there were more gay people than straight? Would you want them to control what entertainment you can have and who you could and could not marry?
It's sad that some people who claim to followers of jesus christ can have such hatred in their hearts.

Anonymous said...

I knew my post would cause some controversy. I made a simple statement of our family values. I am not afriad to expose my identity nor try to share the Word of God. I love all sinners, I believe it is my duty to share God's Love. I live my life as an example. Yes, I have fallen short and will again. I am saved by Grace and know that you too can be. I believe the Bible is the unfallable Word and I hope just one of you will come to Christ thru my post. I love you all !


Anonymous said...

12:01 is there, not their. In rural America, we understand proper grammar.

Anonymous said...

The Bible was also written by people who thought the earth was flat, and if you went too far, you would fall off.

Jonathan said...

Dear Mark Robertson:

Thank you for doing so much to share God's love and to live by example. Leviticus 18:22 clearly states that homosexuality is an abomination. End of debate.

I do want some advice from you, however, regarding some of the other specific laws stated in the Bible and how to follow them.

When I burn a bull on the altar as a sacrifice, I know it creates a
pleasing odor for the Lord - Lev.1:9. The problem is my neighbors. They claim the odor is not pleasing to them. Should I smite them?

I would like to sell my daughter into slavery, as sanctioned in
Exodus 21:7. In this day and age, what do you think would be a fair
price for her?

I know that I am allowed no contact with a woman while she is in her
period of menstrual uncleanliness - Lev.15:19- 24. The problem is how
do I tell? I have tried asking, but most women take offense.

Lev. 25:44 states that I may indeed possess slaves, both male and
female, provided they are purchased from neighboring nations. A friend
of mine claims that this applies to Mexicans, but not Canadians. Can
you clarify? Why can't I own Canadians?

I have a neighbor who insists on working on the Sabbath. Exodus 35:2
clearly states he should be put to death. Am I morally obligated to
kill him myself?

A friend of mine feels that even though eating shellfish is an
abomination - Lev. 11:10, it is a lesser abomination than
homosexuality. I do not agree. Can you settle this?

Lev. 21:20 states that I may not approach the altar of God if I have a defect in my sight. I have to admit that I wear reading glasses. Does my vision have to be 20/20, or is there some wiggle room here?

Most of my male friends get their hair trimmed, including the hair
around their temples, even though Lev. 19:27 expressly forbids this.
How should they die?

I know from Lev. 11:6-8 that touching the skin of a dead pig makes me unclean, but may I still play football if I wear gloves?

My uncle has a farm. He violates Lev. 19:19 by planting two different crops in the same field, as does his wife by wearing garments made of two different kinds of thread (cotton/polyester blend). He also tends to curse and blaspheme a lot. Is it necessary that we go to all the trouble of getting the whole town together to stone them? - Lev.24:10-16. Couldn't we just burn them to death at a private family affair like the one we do with people who sleep with their in-laws?
(Lev. 20:14)

You are clearly a man of God, so I am confident you can help. Thank you again for reminding us that God's word is eternal and unchanging.


NoMoreRednecks said...

""" What you call "alternative lifestyle", we call sin.

Mark Robertson and Family

Why don't you stay in South Carolina.

YOUR type is not welcome here, you ignorant hick.

Anonymous said...

So you are the 'one' who is going to single-handedly save the In-Last-Place of cable news, CNN? JK, only crusty ol Ted can save CNN. As one who grew up in Charlotte and escaped within weeks after High School to move to Atlanta, you will find Atlanta just a much bigger socially inept city than Charlotte, and much more violent. Hope you are living within a few blocks of work, the commute is legendary here and always to be avoided. There's visiting Charlotteans that drove around I-285 for days too scared to get off except for Gas. Then they just dissappeared from the southside, leaving behind nothing but a stripped yuppie car full of Krystal wrappers. Good luck and get a carry permit. Though I'm not sure where you'll pack it in that Lady Gaga outfit. Later, Willx

Anonymous said...

The Texas towns that are prospering, Dallas, Houston, Austin, are prospering and are very gay friendly (as well as to other cultures as well). Many other Texas towns are dying. I've seen it first hand. Try again.

It is people like Pat Buchanan who are a bigger threat to this country than a few gays or minorities for those hairbrained, xenophobic reasons stated. It seem like the Aryan Brotherhood is coming out of the woodwork here, and it is up to the rest of us to band together and squash it. Hitler's dream society didn't last too long, did it?

The time to take Charlotte out of the big dumb south and assimilate it with the rest of the metropolitan thinking world is now. We are almost there.

Anonymous said...

"The gay bars are closing becasue the market has spoken. One gay bar is plenty for ANY city. What you call "alternative lifestyle", we call sin.

Mark Robertson and Family

This comment is a lie born in the pits of hell. This person has no idea what they are talking about. Of course this is another cult follower and religious fanatic that has twisted the bible to suit there fetish.

The truth is we need many more gay bars here and hopefully they will come and be supported. Meanwhile these hatemongers can keep having their cult meetings down at OSA headquarters. God Bless.

Anonymous said...

Just want to step in as another Christian on the so-called "liberal" side of the fence (PS-I'm conservative in the north, but that's another subject)

I like that Jonathan stepped up and stated that there's a difference between being gay-friendly and needing a bunch of gay bars. Personally, I also don't think there's a gay population large enough to support the bars, and the closings speak to it. But standing up and saying that you're against gay bars but not saying you're against what goes on at straight bars is being selective to what the Bible says. If you're going to oppose gay bars, you'd better stand up and oppose the bars that are degrading to women or that encourage people to go home to have sex with strangers. The Lord encourages us to love all. He will work in our hearts to lead us from our sins. You seem to forget that all of us sin, it is the root of being human, so who are you to judge??

Secondly, to those who keep calling Mark a hick, how the heck do you know? I'm from South Carolina and speak with a Southern accent, but I also vote Democrat and am all for equal rights to gays and straights. I'm confused... am I a hick or a Yankee??

steven allison said...

These reply's have taken quite a turn south...on a lighter note:

I have truley enjoyed your blog - always good insight as to what is going on in the queen city. Have any other entertainment wirters stepped up to the challenge of taking over this kind of blogging? Where shall I find a list of reliable parties for the weekend?

Good luck in Atlanta.

Anonymous said...

Will any other pop-culture writers be maintaining a comprehensive blog about charlotte parties and entertainment?

Anonymous said...

To the comment above from the person saying Charlotte does not have th gay population to support a bunch of gay bars, well you are completely out of touch. There are more gays in Charlotte than you can imagine, they just don't know how to go out and support their own communities and businesses like the gay bars. You can see them at all the charity events or specialty 'exclusive' parties, but they don't know how to simply 'go out' and keep the bars thriving. Furthermore, just being a 'gay friendly' bar isn't always good enough. You do need gay bars. Period. Charlotte has a long way to go in the nightlife scene, and it's mostly to blame on the gay community. They're here, plenty of them. They just don't know how to not be so damn fickle and support the gay bars - then they would not need to close!