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Cheap Thrills 

Skateboarding and music festival, tango lessons, investing wisely

CHARLOTTE SKATEBOARDING & MUSIC FESTIVAL Bring back those long-lost days when the skating was that hip, rebel thing to do, complete with its own soundtrack. This first annual free family-focused event highlights healthy choices through athleticism, safety and life choices. Skaters need to be at the Methodist Home Recreation Center, 3200 Shamrock Drive, at 9:30am for registration; $10 fee. The festival is Saturday, Aug. 19 at 12pm. In case of rain, it moves to Sunday, Aug. 20. Visit www.csmfestival.com or call 704-625-7354.

WOMEN'S SELF-DEFENSE SEMINAR With violent crimes on the rise, it pays to be prepared for anything. That's what this free seminar, "Practical Personal Protection for Women," is all about. Top martial arts instructors will teach women basic techniques like having a survival mind-set, raising your level of awareness and readiness, the use of common self-defense tools such as pepper sprays, and most importantly -- how to survive an assault. The seminar is Saturday, Aug. 19, from 10am-2pm at Hard Target Martial Arts. Call 704-676-9292 or go to www.hardtargetmartialarts.com for more details.

CHARLOTTE COMEDY THEATRE Have ya been moping around, feeling a little blue? Then here's the thing for you! Check out Sunday's Open Mic Jam, a combo of comedy, spoken word, music, you name it. Show at 7pm; $3. The location is 1308 D the Plaza. Call for reservations 1-866-467-7681. Web: www.charlottecomedy.com.

SCHOOL TOOLS CAMPAIGN Wanna find a cheap thrill that's really worthwhile? Look no further. Give a needy kid a good start at success this year -- and enjoy the satisfaction of knowing summer's that much closer to being over and the little darlings will be back to work and out of your hair! Drop-offs at: Classroom Central, 2116 Wilkinson Blvd; "Mint After Five" -- Friday, Aug. 18 at the Mint Museum of Craft & Design, 220 N. Tryon St.; Baseball Games: Aug. 4 -- Gastonia Grizzlies; Aug. 11 -- Charlotte Knights; Aug. 19 -- Hickory Crawdads; Aug. 25 -- Kannapolis Intimidators; Tuesday, Aug. 15 -- Golden Corral, 2507 W. Roosevelt Blvd., Monroe, NC; Wednesday, Aug. 23 -- Food Lion, 5624 N. Graham St.; Last Day Push -- Thu., Aug. 31 at WSOC-TV, 1901 N. Tryon St. Go to www.cischarlotte.org/www.classroomcentral.org for more info.

SPORTS CONNECTION The ultimate cheap thrill is, of course, sports! Among the conventional sports offered at this complex are unconventional (and cheap) games like laser tag and skating. For $5, future Tony Hawks can skate all day -- and Star Wars fans can play laser tag. Go online www.SportsConnectionNC.com or call 704-583-1444.

LEARN TO MEDITATE Take it from loyal practitioners of meditation: There's nothing like it to take the stress of your workday off your shoulders. That's why the Pain & Rehab Institute is offering a free class in the breathing techniques and imagery used in ancient qi gong meditation (betcha didn't know there was more than one kind). The office is located at 128 E. Plaza Drive in Mooresville. Classes are Thursdays at 7:30pm. Call 704-649-1629 to get started on the path to serenity.

SHINDIG ON THE GREEN Put on your dancing ... clogs and hike on up to Asheville for the 40th season of music and dance, Appalachian-style. Shindig on the Green celebrates the rich heritage of this great region with showcases featuring folk musicians and dancers, old-time string bands, ballad singers (reminiscent of O Brother Where Art Thou), storytellers and, of course, cloggers! Bring a lawn chair or blanket and cuddle up to the sounds of the mountain. The show will be held this year at Martin Luther King Jr. Park in downtown Asheville. Runs Saturdays: Aug. 19, 26; and Sept. 2. Reserve your tickets at 828-258-6101 ext. 345. Web: www.folkheritage.org.

LATIN NIGHTS "Vive la vida loca," grooving the night away to samba, salsa, merengue, bachata and the hot current craze, reggaeton. Free dance lessons are offered when doors open at 9pm. Touting "celebrity instructors," Dolce Vita is sure to be packed the first Thursday of every month. Hit www.hispanos-usa.com or call 336-988-8887.

TANGO & TAPAS Patou and the Charlotte Tango Society host this free informal lesson on the Argentinian tango, perfect for making friends. Learn this sensual dance and improve existing skills with instructor Daniel Arredondo. Monday nights at 7pm. Patou, A French Bistro, 1315 East Blvd. Call 704-376-2233 or visit www.patoubistro.com or www.passionfortango.com.

HOW TO INVEST WISELY AND AVOID INVESTMENT SCAMS Don't you think it's about time you got out of the money trap and learned how to make it work for you? That's where this free seminar by John Maron, investor education coordinator for the Securities Division of the NC Dept. of the Secretary of the State, comes in. Learn how to ask the right questions and to recognize investment scams. It takes place Saturday, Aug. 19 at 10:30am. Location: North County Regional Library, 16500 Holly Crest Ln, Huntersville. Call 704-895-0318 for details.

= FREE!

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  • On Saturday, Oct. 21, hundreds gathered at Camp North End on Statesville Avenue for Charlotte's first black alternative music festival. We captured some of the bands in action on stage, but mostly we surveyed the grounds as fans, families, vendors and more lounged around the sprawling, colorful Camp North End site. It was a great day of music, food, fun, and sweet, autumn sunshine. (Photos by Mark Kemp)
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