Wednesday, April 18, 2012

The return of Alive After 5: A look at the players

Posted By on Wed, Apr 18, 2012 at 2:33 PM

The warmer temperatures and high pollen levels not only usher the rebirth of spring and elevated hem lines, but also the return of a Charlotte institution, the Alive After 5 events in Uptown. This seasonal post-work excuse to drink adult beverages outdoors has been a staple of Charlotte culture for as long as I can remember, and continues to evolve and grow year over year.

I attended the AA5 kick-off last Thursday and realized that although the event has advanced, there are ubiquitous players that are as predictable as the funky smell of the Bradford Pears when they bloom. Thus, in both celebration for the return of AA5 and for your entertainment, the next time you attend (think modern Where's Waldo), I now give you the AA5 Five: the five characters that you simply must see but also probably can't avoid.

1) The white girl who is in the cover band simply to dance in a shiny outfit. She doesn't sing, she can't play an instrument, but she can step touch her ass off and interpretively dance every hit from the '70s and '80s. Some of her most impressive moves are making wax-on wax-off hand movements to "At the Car Wash" and her "YMCA" arm letters.

2) The incognito, but not really, Carolina Panthers players. It's off season and they are out and about for a good time. You can typically spot them at the front of the crowd waiting to be asked for photos or autographs. If you aren't versed in the who's who of the players, sheer size and a surplus of color coordinated accessories are some other tell-tale signs.

3) The middle-aged/senior lady whose heart yearns to dance, but she'll only do so at AA5 and family weddings. She's been saving up all year, and she's ready to cut loose. She practically bursts onto the dance floor at song one and is typically surrounded by other "mature" women who are equally as enthusiastic to hear the songs of their youth being covered in such a lively venue ... with such a large area for bouncing and clapping off-beat.

4) The excessively fancy girl, trolling for attention. She looks like she's going to either a cocktail party or the Camden Cup, and she endlessly takes turns between looping the entire place and posing in the most conspicuous location possible. She's a true Southern peacock, but careful boys, if you actually attempt to answer her faux mating call. She will more than likely snub you and you will feel stupid.

5) The ambiguous older gentleman who refuses to take no for an answer when he asks a lady to dance. He could be homeless, it's unclear if he's intoxicated, but he's definitely persistent. He is the trophy of AA5 characters because wherever he goes, he leaves a wake of blushing young girls who take themselves too seriously and scorned douchey guys who are too busy trying to look as attractive as possible to dance with their girlfriends. Git it old man. If approached by him, kick up your heels (he won't stop trying to grab your hand until you do anyway) and live a little. Dancing like an old weirdo is good for the soul.

Welcome back Alive After 5, along with your motley crew of usual suspects! Before the balmy days of summer arrive and we inevitably tire of waiting 15 minutes for an overpriced beer and men with fat bellies singing "Livin' on a Prayer," allow me to be the first to say that we've deeply missed you.

Megan Henshall is a project coordinator by day, favorite child, rollerskating enthusiast, blogger, and lover of all things social and under appreciated. For more writing/ramblings/rants visit

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