Tuesday, March 3, 2015

A solo exploration of Discovery Place's Science on the Rocks

Posted By on Tue, Mar 3, 2015 at 11:41 AM

On a recent Saturday, I woke up around noon, ready to be productive. I had gone out the night before and stayed with a friend, but for once didn’t wake up hungover. As I gathered my things, I realized my purse felt super light. The night before, a friend called to tell me her apartment had flooded, and another sent a text saying his car wouldn’t start. Remembering that, I chuckled and thought, “Wouldn’t it be funny if I had lost my keys?” Sure enough, when I emptied out my crossbody, there were no keys.

I began to review my night: two Ubers, Prohibition, a taxi and the last stop, Cameo. If I left my keys in a cab, sayanora. I considered giving up and grabbing a spare key from my leasing office, but decided I should retrace my steps first. I took an Uber to Discovery Place for Science on the Rocks (#SOTR) “Smoke and Mirrors. Sure enough, after pulling up my app and finding Jennifer’s (my first driver) number, I was beyond relieved when she said she had them.

See? I knew I hadn’t gotten that drunk. In fact, I stayed so lucid, I can tell you about my first #SOTR experience with great detail.

When I was a kid, I always hated going to children’s museums. I always thought I was “too old for that.” The last time I was at Discovery Place was around 2001. I know because as my mom and I pulled up, I was singing my heart out to Ronald Isley’s “Contagious.”

Who would have thought at 24, I would be eagerly anticipating this event for over a month.
Located Uptown at the corner of North Tryon and 6th Street, Discovery Place is a two-story family-friendly science museum. It is the perfect spot to take your kid and let them run wild in an educational but fun environment. When I found out this child sanctuary kicked off an after-hours adults-only event back in July of last year, I had to see what all the fuss was about.

For February’s event, I read online that the featured drink would be a “Vaportini.” Vapor and alcohol? Sounds a lot like feeling the pleasure without the pain.

Of course, both of my friends previously mentioned were supposed to go with me, so I was riding solo. When I entered, my first thought was to find that Vaportini, but instead I was distracted by two acrobat artists in red sequined outfits hanging from the ceiling. Feeling overwhelmed, and sober, by the amount of people and unfamiliar exhibits, I was pleasantly surprised to see that there were minibars placed strategically throughout the museum. The most expensive items were $7 for a mixed drink, $6 for a shot.

After grabbing a beer, I decided to explore the exhibits. The Discovery Place features many different themed exhibits, including the art of design with focal points like architecture, building blocks and humongous playing cards (can’t decide if this was just for the adults); frogs and underwater creatures; and its newest, Illusion: Nothing is as it Seems. The museum also boasts one of the largest IMAX theaters in the Carolinas — granted, they knew better than to coordinate the movie schedule with this event.

It was when I was about to have my palm read and then explore Illusion that I found out the Vaportinis were downstairs. I raced past jellyfish, starfish and a grizzly bear to a line that had to be at least 100 people long.

The Vaportini was concocted by a glass cup, tea light and a glass globe with a small hole in it. The alcohol is heated by the candle and turned to vapor in the globe; you then take a straw and inhale. We got to choose between gin, bourbon and mango pineapple vodka. I chose the latter, and it was deliciously warm, creating an instant buzz.

After watching a game of corn hole complete with Bill Nye the Science Guy boards, I realized I wasn’t the only adult who was acting like a kid in a candy store. Some guests were “losing” their marked wristbands showing they had already received their free Vaportini sample, attempting to grab another swig. Others were playing with sea urchins or intently watching a magician perform tricks. And there were plenty of folks drinking in the cafeteria that stayed open late to serve the drunken people food.

The next #SOTR event takes place March 20, with a theme of Emerald City. Make sure you purchase your tickets in advance on the website — they are only $8 — so you won’t have to stand in the terribly long line I strolled past.

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