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Cheap Thrills 2010: 50 fun things to do for $5 or less 

So, the recession isn't over yet. Times are still hard. And you're still broke. But life goes on my friends. Don't sit around and fret — go out and have a good time. And believe it or not, you can have a good time while your pockets are looking like rabbit ears. You just have to know where to look.

To that end, we've created this: our annual guide to low-cost fun. We've collected 50 items you're bound to dig -- from live music to movies, art shows and more -- that will run you $5 or less. Check out the list of 30 below (and 20 more online at and get in where you fit in.

1 Recess Fest: An all-day music event held at various locations around town, Recess Fest is designed to get people supporting local businesses and local/touring musicians. One pass gets you into multiple local venues. Passes -- which cost $5 each -- are available for purchase at Pura Vida Worldly Art (1521 Central Ave., 704-335-8587). July 10. Kick-off is at noon. For more info, visit

2 Post All Bills exhibit: Along with selling passes to Recess Fest, Pura Vida is also hosting the cool art exhibit Post All Bills. The show celebrates the art of band posters and flyers, "bills" created for Charlotte-area shows over the last few decades. Free. 10 a.m. to closing. Pura Vida, 1521 Central Ave. 704-335-8587.

3 Beer and wine nights at the Common Market: Has an eye-catching bottle ever piqued your curiosity, but you've decided against buying it because you weren't sure if you'd like it? The Common Market feels your pain. The Plaza Midwood location hosts a free beer tasting starting at 6:30 p.m. on Wednesdays, and the Southend location offers beer tastings Thursdays at 6 p.m., as well as a free wine tasting Fridays at 5:30 p.m. Follow them at Common Market, Plaza Midwood: 2007 Commonwealth Ave., 704-334-6209. SouthEnd: 1515 S. Tryon St., 704-332-7782.

4 Open Mic Nights at the Wine Up: Hump day draws a lot of crowds to the bar and club scene, but for those craving some culture, Wednesdays at the Wine Up could be just the thing. Come enjoy the musical stylings of fellow Charlotteans, or take a stab at performing yourself. $5. 9 p.m. Wine Up, 3306-C N. Davidson St. 704-372-2633

5 Drag and Drafts at The Scorpio: While some nightclubs don't have a problem charging you a tithing just to cross their threshold, Scorpio gives you a drink and a show for just $5. Come out for Wicked & Wild Divas Wednesdays or Life's a Drag Fridays and cheer on the beauties while sipping on your brew. $5. Scorpio, 2301 Freedom Drive. 704-373-9124.

6 Charlotte Comedy Theater Stand-up Showcase: Having a hard time starting off your week on a good foot? Luckily for you, CCT has experienced stand-up comedians who are more than willing to distract you from the humdrum of your life. Free. 8 p.m. Hooligan's, 140 Brevard Court. 704-376-2238.

7 Hang with the Nappy Roots: Alternative Southern-rap group the Nappy Roots is set to perform live at Manifest Discs on Aug. 14. The Kentucky-based quintet had the biggest-selling hip-hip album of 2002, and will be promoting their new album, The Pursuit of Nappyness. Free. 3 p.m. Manifest Discs, 6239 South Blvd. 704-552-8448.

8 Monday Nite All-Stars: This popular soul/funk group rocks the stage every Monday at the Double Door Inn for what could be Charlotte's most enthusiastic and eclectic weeknight crowd. $5. Doors open at 9 p.m.; show starts at 10 p.m. Double Door Inn, 1218 Charlottetowne Ave. 704-376-1446

9 Tango & Tea at Amelie's: Before Argentina exported the tango to Paris, there was the milonga, a style of music and dancing popular in Argentina, Uruguay, and southern Brazil. (Milonga now also refers to places where tango is danced.) The NoDa-based French bakery Amelie's celebrates this South American contribution to Parisian culture by turning into a "milonga" every Sunday from 2 p.m.-6 p.m. Free. Amelie's, 2424 N. Davidson St. 704-376-1781.

10 26th Bon Odori Festival: Hosted by the Japanese Association in Charlotte, this dance festival offers Japanese-style lunch boxes, tea ceremony, kendo demonstration, and Japanese songs and crafts. Free. July 31. 11 a.m.-4 p.m. Wachovia Atrium, 301 S. Tryon St.

11 Prep for Galas at Grand Central: Ballroom dancing is a skill that is seldom used, but always impressive. Why not up your "class" factor at a complimentary class? Free. July 12. 7 p.m.-8 p.m. Grand Central, 1000 Central Ave. 704-373-1699.

12 Music at the Fountain Plaza: Pop into Stonecrest Shopping Center Friday and Saturday nights and find a festive atmosphere with live music and a good crowd bumping right along. Hunker down with some friends, splurge on some drinks, and enjoy. Free. Fridays and Saturdays. 7 p.m-10 p.m. Stonecrest, 7800 Rea Road.

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