From March Madness to Mad Hot Ballroom | Brittney After Dark | Creative Loafing Charlotte
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From March Madness to Mad Hot Ballroom 

The swirl of Charlotte nightlife

March is known for St. Patrick's Day, the official start of spring, and one of the Carolina's favorite aspects of the month: March Madness. Emphasis on the madness, because this year's games were definitely infuriating!

Between nail-biting overtimes, two-point victories and eye-popping injuries (literally), no one's office bracket was safe from this year's upsets. And no local sports bar was safe from the madness. If Charlotte nightlife were a bookstore divided by genre, the sports section would be the busiest, most stocked section. Take your pick: Charlotte has two Picasso's locations, Hoops & Dreams, Twist, Buffalo Wild Wings, Angry Ale's, Jocks & Jills, Out of Bounds, Mickey's, Cedar Street Tavern, Midtown Sundries, Jillian's, the Graduate, Dave & Busters, Fox & Hound and three Stool Pigeons locations. Of course, when a big game is on, every bar with a television set deems itself a sports bar.

My best friends Casey and Leah and I decided to get in on the sports swirl by having a girl's night out ... to watch basketball. But we opted to avoid the fried carbohydrate selection on most sports bar menus in favor of dinner at Seven Ten, the newest edition to the Gateway scene. After dining on tapas while seated on swank leather banquettes, we went to the mack daddy of sports bars: Stool Pigeons downtown. The day the Panthers played the Seahawks in the play-offs, Casey arrived there at 10am to reserve a table (the game was at 6:30pm). Yes, Stool Pigeons gets that crowded and, with the exception of pissed-off Duke fans that went home, the capacity for the NCAA tournament was no exception.

The testosterone drenching the room, the annoying dude that kept yelling at the ref and the fashion show of jerseys made me feel like I was actually at the game. But that's not where I wanted to be; truth is, I don't even like basketball.

So I fouled myself out of the game and headed to Cosmos to spectate my favorite sport: dancing. Every Thursday is salsa night at Cosmos, but this particular evening hosted a salsa dance contest. Contestants tried to shimmy their way to victory, as the packed crowd sipped and swayed along to the Latin beats. The gyrating, spinning, dipping and twisting on the stage made it hard for me to restrain my hips. The dancing was impressive, but I was most turned on by the diversity of the crowd. Every age, race and genre of human was at Cosmos that night. When the Spanish-speaking emcee got on the mic, the crowd had that tilted neck, scratch-their-head-in-confusion reaction. The majority of the crowd didn't know what the hell he was talking about or what was going on; but when the music started playing, we were all speaking the same language again ... body language. Meanwhile, I was still trying to discipline my roguish hips because, like Shakira says in her new song, "the hips don't lie."

And I think my hips and I just found a new Thursday night tradition: salsa night at Cosmos. May I suggest you take a time out from sports bars and add some spice to your nightlife? See you on the dance floor! What's that, you have two left feet? Not an issue: Cosmos offers free salsa dance lessons every Thursday before the things heat up.

Between two-pointers and two-steppers last week, Charlotte also tapped into America's guilty pleasure: reality television. The girls of VH1's Flavor of Love were at The Breakfast Club living out their fifteen minutes of infamy. I was hoping for cat fights over Flavor Flav, but the girls must have saved the drama for their mama -- or national television, rather. The pathetic thing is, people actually treated the girls as though they were of celebrity status. I mean, seriously, all they did was hook up with Flavor Flav -- gross! I was on the reality dating show Blind Date; where are my groupies?

Whether you were into the NCAA games or not, recent Charlotte nights have been madness regardless. But a little madness can be a good thing. Didn't Prince once sing, "let's go crazy, let's get nuts ..."?

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