Out For The Night | QC After Dark | Creative Loafing Charlotte

Out For The Night

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

How to make the best of an over-hyped snowstorm

Sunday Funday

Posted By on Wed, Jan 11, 2017 at 4:00 AM

It's 7 o'clock on the dot. I'm on the light rail cruisin' the streets [hums the tune of Usher's "Nice and Slow"]. Seriously though, Monday morning at 7 a.m. I was riding the blue line into Uptown and the sun was just starting to rise over the QC. It would've been a beautiful picture but then I reached into my jacket pocket to find two tokens and was reminded of Sunday Funday. Needless to say, it was the longest, most nauseating ride I've taken in a while.

Let's rewind.

On Friday, the office buzzed with excitement in anticipation of Snowmageddon 2017. The first snow of winter and you would've thought we were still in elementary school, waiting for the principal to call it. Despite warnings of snowfall, around 7 p.m. my pals were dead set on going out. At first, I was hesitant, but then we kept hearing reports that the bulk of the "storm" wouldn't hit until early Saturday morning. Who were we to waste a night out after a long week?

The boyfriend and I popped into the grocery store for last-minute rations (and mixers) before getting ready. Surprisingly, we had no issues securing an Uber to Sanctuary Pub in NoDa. Decked out with TVs and picture frames, this dive bar located next to Neighborhood Theatre is usually a spot I stop in for a quick drink, play tunes on the internet jukebox, snag the pool table before 9 p.m. for free or grab a snack — you can order your Cajun faves from neighboring Boudreaux's while grabbing a drink at the bar.

After a couple of RBVs, my co-workers were itching for karaoke. We braved freezing rain to walk to Noda 101, next to Jack Beagles. I'd forgotten all about this bar. But there we were, sitting at the table right in the front, perusing the song list. Yeah, I wasn't drunk enough. I opted for the role of crazed fan as my co-workers took the stage.

The highlight of the night? Watching a guy snatch the mic from a co-worker who was singing Prince's "Kiss," then belt out some of the highest notes in the song, and hand the mic calmly back as he exited stage left. The ultimate #micdrop. We requested an Uber before getting stranded in NoDa and after getting home ate an entire pizza. Maybe that was actually the highlight of my night?

The next morning, we gave "Netflix and chill" a whole new meaning. I lost count of how many catnaps we took, how much food we ate and how much TV we watched. We'd already decided that if weather permitted, we'd be hunting down The Dock — Uptown's hidden speakeasy. We headed that way around 9:30 p.m. After 20 minutes exploring the wrong loading dock area and running into another couple on the same adventure, we finally set our eyes on the graffiti-style sign that marked the entrance. To our dismay, it was closed due to road conditions. Dammit. The experience we'd been talking about for months would have to wait another weekend. At least now we knew where to go.

We ended up revisiting another spot in Charlotte Marriott City Center — Stoke Charlotte, one of my newest favorite spots to splurge on date night, featuring great food and craft cocktails. They didn't have the ingredients for the cocktail I wanted, but the culinary experts behind the bar didn't disappoint. Before I knew it, I had the perfect margarita with a twist — jalapenos!

I wasn't sure if I'd be up for Sunday Funday when I took my first morning trip to the bathroom, wincing angrily at the bright sunlight. But a series of texts from my P.I.C. and I was whistling a different tune. Looking back, holding those two tokens on the light rail, I realized my Sunday Funday doom was set in motion the moment I decided to make an RBV and pregame meet-up with her at Duckworth's Grill & Taphouse.

After a few beers, we played a drinking game involving fingers and a shot of Fireball — don't ask. That's when I convinced everyone to check out the new game bar at NorthSide Station, Lucky's Bar and Arcade. I'd fallen in love with the game bar Abari in NoDa, so I couldn't wait to see what Lucky's was all about. Without giving away all the deets, it's like Chuck E. Cheese's for adults with all the bells and whistles. Air hockey, Galaga and a Jurassic Park-themed shooting game were the highlights of my experience. Oh, and a tasty martini creation with...drum roll please...a Nerds rope! Come on, does it get much better than that?

New year, new me, I said. No more hangovers, I said. And there I was, hungover on a Monday after going out every night the first weekend of 2017. Sighs. I can say, however, it was well worth it. The weekend was full of adventure.

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Thursday, December 29, 2016

How will you ring in the new year?

Posted By on Thu, Dec 29, 2016 at 7:00 AM

Every year around this time, we all see and hear the same sort of things: “Here’s your Facebook year in review…”, #NewYearNewMe or “Check out my New Year’s resolutions…” Hell, even I’ve been tempted to post a status about eating right and getting my summer body back — too bad I haven’t had a “summer bod” in a few years.

This year, the conversation I’m tired of having is, “Are you going to be in Charlotte for NYE? What are you going to do?” Prior to a few days ago, my answer was the same as it was last year, “I have no idea.” I’m sure you’ve been there before, too. After every failed NYE, I’ve promised myself that “Next year’s going to be different. I’m going to save up enough money for a magical experience, maybe even travel and it’s going to be epic!”

For my first NYE in the Q.C., my friends and I bought tickets to Label’s Great Gasby-themed shindig. I donned a fur coat and costume jewelry and prepared myself for an amazing night. Our Uber showed up late, took the long route through Uptown and we ended up running in as they started the countdown.

The second? I’d just started seeing someone and even though I was “living single,” I was excited about the possibility of having someone to share a smooch with. Just a few hours before the event, I received the disappointing text, “My ex invited herself, I’m sorry.” Are you kidding me?

While last year wasn’t a complete waste — I was with my boyfriend and great friends — I was still dissatisfied when I ended up spending my entire night on Montford Drive, a familiar hotspot in the Queen all year long. Let’s be honest, we all love Southside Charlotte on a drunken escapade, but a magical NYE? I beg to differ.

Fast forward to 2016, I started asking my boyfriend about what we were going to do for New Year’s Eve months in advance. And once again, nothing was set in stone until the week before. I was dead set on a destination. Either Orlando — where he was going to be for a few days prior — or a casino where we could bring in the new year right — making money. Both ideas were shut down when he realized his favorite football team was playing in yet another “big game.” Who would want to risk missing that? *Rolls eyes*

So what’s the next thing I did? I hit up Google and started weighing our options. The problem was, there were so many factors to take into account. But this time, I had experience and a variety of resources at my fingertips. Don’t risk starting 2017 off on the wrong note, if you’re not sure where you’re spending NYE, do as I did and take the following into account:

1. Ticket price: If you have the extra cash to spend, just make sure you actually like the destination. Some of my favorite venues, such as Ink N Ivy, still have tickets available, but you’re going to spend a pretty penny, especially if you missed out on early bird specials. And keep in mind, there are plenty of cheap and free options too.

2. Transportation: After hearing horror stories of friends racking up Uber charges over $300 and getting stuck at Label for a couple hours due to surge pricing, I knew firsthand how troublesome NYE transportation could be. Designate a sober driver, locate a venue in an area that’s less popular or prepare for the surge.

3. Service: There are plenty of venues Uptown that I love for aesthetic reasons, but that doesn’t mean the service is great. If you’ve had a hard time getting a drink at a certain bar on a regular night, it’ll probably be a nightmare on NYE.

4. Alcohol: Are you going to drink a little or a lot? Only interested in a champagne toast at midnight? Will you leave the party early? After all, you shouldn’t pay a high ticket price for an open bar if you’re not going to take full advantage of it. Don’t forget to read the fine print, your options may be limited.
5. Comfort: Is general admission significantly cheaper but you’ll be standing the whole time?

Comfort is key when you’re in for the long haul, especially for those of you wearing heels. If you don’t like the idea of standing all night, find out whether or not there will be opportunities for seating.

It’s not too late to find somewhere to spend your NYE in Charlotte. Where will you countdown to 2017? Check out our New Year’s Eve Guide.

Thursday, December 1, 2016

Don’t Land on the Naughty List

Posted By on Thu, Dec 1, 2016 at 4:23 PM

Are you up to your ears in Thanksgiving leftovers? I know I am. But, believe it or not, I’m actually not a huge fan of turkey, stuffing and the likes. Nevertheless, after an extended weekend at home with the family that featured a mannequin challenge, moonshine and a Salisbury trip on the Polar Express — in no particular order — I’m happy that it’s officially time to put up Christmas decorations.

No lie, I had a panic attack as a result of overexertion and overexcitement following Christmas shopping at Hobby Lobby on Saturday. Who am I? This year, instead of hunting for the best clothing deals on Black Friday and Cyber Monday, I spent close to $200 on Christmas plates and decorations. I never thought I’d be a Suzy Homemaker. But can you blame me? Anthropologie’s visual marketing gets me every time.

On Sunday, while my boy toy snoozed away his hangover, I decided to get in the Christmas spirit. I put on Krampus and started pulling out all of the Christmas decorations I already had. Two trees, hand towels and table settings later, I was coming down off my Christmas high.

Just when I was seriously considering going to grab another tree, I realized my holiday office party at Suite was just a few days away. Nothing like a good old-fashioned party to get me back in the spirit. But then, just as quick as my excitement returned, the ghosts of Christmas parties past paid me a visit.

One year, I got caught double-fisting by the president of our company. That was before I became a guilty party in a glass-shattering incident. And before getting a ride to All American Pub from a police officer, where I’m pretty sure I was canoodling all night in front of another higher-up.

The following year, I’d hoped to show major improvements. Nope. I ended up getting drunk once again and this time, I was overheard making questionably lewd comments in front of my current boss who ever so gently reminded me of our anniversary last week, “Are you going to be on your best behavior for the Christmas party this year?”

Even after our awkward interaction a year ago, I could tell he still wasn’t judging me, however, I was definitely judging myself. Scout’s honor, this year is going to be different. Not sure whether or not you know how to behave at your company’s party? Below are a few things that are guaranteed to land you on the naughty list with your boss and other higher-ups:

1. Getting sloppy drunk. Take a few notes from me. No one wants to be the weepy, vommy, mouthy co-worker that’s purging at the office party. Most likely there will be some sort of open bar, so prepare yourself. Eat the hors d’oeuvres, stick with what you know and if they’re only paying for beer, wine and champagne, save hard liquor for the after party.

2. Insulting the higher-ups. Make sure you’re aware of the head honchos that are going to be in attendance at your office party. Greet them early and once you’ve had your fair share, avoid them at all costs. Then you won’t have to try and remember what you may have said walking into the office Monday morning, like I did.

3. Dwelling on work. Don’t like your job? Hate one of your co-workers? Frustrated from a call earlier that day? Leave those topics at the door. The moment alcohol touches your lips, you’ll want to vent and you may end up sticking your foot in your mouth. The motto to remember: “If you don’t have anything good to say, don’t say anything at all.”

4. Wearing skimpy clothes. As if you haven’t already made a name for yourself in the office for your risqué clothing choice, the office party does not give you a good excuse to stretch your legs — pun intended. Don’t let the venue choice of a local bar or club fool you. That mini skirt wasn’t appropriate then, and it isn’t appropriate now. I repeat, save it for the after party.

Before you turn your annual office holiday party into The Nightmare Before Christmas, think twice. After all, Santa (aka your boss) knows when you’ve been bad or good, so be good for goodness sake!

What’s your favorite or most embarrassing memory from an office party past? Share it with me at backtalk@clclt.com.

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Friendsgiving: The Ultimate Excuse to Give Thanks and Turn Up

Posted By on Wed, Nov 23, 2016 at 1:55 PM

Thanksgiving and the few weeks that precede it, represent the beginning of “the holiday season.” Minus a few grinches here and there, everyone is generally in a good mood and that makes for some great memories in the Queen City. Last week on Wine Night at The Corner Pub, my girlfriends and I ended up having a cry session. What started out as a conversation about our partners and The 5 Love Languages turned into a conversation about why we loved one another and what each friendship meant to us. It was therapy with a tinge of wine and that’s what the spirit of thanks can do to you.

Friendsgiving. Heard of it? Thanksgiving celebrated with your friends, usually held before the holiday or in place of time spent with family. It’s the perfect time of year for you to gather all of your closest friends for a potluck, dinner or drinks. After all, even if you leave with all the leftovers in the world, family time can get a bit overwhelming. Enjoy Thanksgiving without the pressures of conversations about grandkids, professional growth or getting your shit together by coordinating Friendsgiving in the Q.C. Below are a few suggestions on how to celebrate locally:

Potluck — It’s cheap, it’s fun, it’s personal. Everyone can bring a dish, or alcoholic beverage, to a designated home, gather around the dinner table with a few games and watch the fun unfold. If you’re really feeling adventurous, your Friendsgiving potluck can be the designated pregame for the night. Pro tips: The host should prepare the main dish and have everyone else bring sides and drinks. It makes for a stress-free night.

King’s Kitchen — It’s Southern-inspired cuisine aka soul food. Isn’t that what everyone is searching for during Thanksgiving? This beautiful Uptown restaurant where the rustic meets the industrial, is perfect for getting all of your friends in one space. Pro tips: Try the meatloaf it was to die for. Call and ask about reserving the private space at the front.

Chima — It’s named after a traditional Brazilian drink that represents hospitality and friendship. Um, in the spirit of Friendsgiving, how perfect is that? Combine amazing service with all-you-can-eat meat and sumptuous sides and you have a Thanksgiving meal made in Heaven. Pro tips: As with any all-you-can-eat scenario, prepare to reach deep in your pockets. Don’t eat all day and get your money’s worth.

The Workman’s Friend — This Irish pub and restaurant has quickly gained popularity in Plaza Midwood. Whether you’re searching for good food or great drinks — or hot Irishmen — you’ll find it all at The Workman’s Friend. An intimate atmosphere highlighted by a spacious outdoor beer garden makes for a great space for you and your friends to enjoy. Pro tips: They don’t have a lot of space for large groups, so call ahead. The house ground brisket sliders with the tiniest quail egg and “Not Your Mama’s” pork and beans are my favorites.

The Roasting Company — My boyfriend is obsessed with this place. The first time we went, I assumed it was another soul food restaurant. I was wrong. This restaurant features Costa Rican rotisserie chicken. The menu does, however, have quite a few sides that are Southern staples, so I wasn’t entirely wrong. Nevertheless, once I actually gave it a try, I wasn’t disappointed. Pro tips: The parking lot gets packed pretty quick so Uber or find a spot along the street. You can make reservations, so do it. Full bar, need I say more? Consider belting out a few karaoke tunes at Jeff’s Bucket Shop next door after dinner.

It’s never too late for celebrating friends. If you’ve already secured Friendsgiving in the Q.C. use this list to organize for Christmas because it’ll be here before you know it. Dirty Santa anyone?

Itching for Something New in the Queen City

Posted By on Wed, Nov 23, 2016 at 11:26 AM

It’s completely normal to fall into a routine every weekend. (*Cues Kendrick Lamar* “Pour up, drank, head shot, drank, sit down, drank.”) The same goes for venue choice. You find a place that’s comfortable and the next thing you know you’re going to the same handful of places you’ve been going to for years. Don’t get me wrong, it’s good to have your favorites, but this weekend I was bored of my usual routine and was dead set on breaking it.

On Thursday, I failed. I drank a little too much and woke up on Friday playing a dangerous Walking Dead version of “eeny, meeny, miny, moe” on whether or not I needed to have a 9-to-5 day. That’s when I realized that I was working from home for the day. Friday night was moving slow and by the time I got my boyfriend out of the house and was two drinks deep at Flight Beer Garden & Music Hall, he was suggesting that we call it a night. Responsible, I know, but unsurprisingly, also very taxing.

Saturday we started switching it up. His mom was having a fish fry and I hadn’t been to one in quite some time. If you’re wondering if it resembled a Tyler Perry’s Madea movie, you pictured it right. Good ol’ fashioned cookouts are lit — old school music, line dancing, mac and cheese, golden brown fish and family (including relatives sneaking a few sips of adult beverages in, of course).
After the fish fry, I hopped in the car to head to Concord. Even though I was already stuffed, the parental units were coming into town for a family friend’s 50th birthday dinner at Carrabba’s. We talked politics, sabotage and television shows; a welcomed change from my usual Saturday night early evening drinking turned Sunday morning hangover.

After dinner, the night went from low-key drinks and hookah to the French Quarter, also referred to as Latta Arcade. I hadn’t visited the area in a while so I was excited to see what craziness awaited me. While hobnobbing with some Jersey boys at Belfast Mill Irish Pub, someone decided to bring in a gyro from Nefelie’s across the alley. Needless to say, that meant my boyfriend and I were going to grub. I ordered a gyro and grabbed a drink while I waited.

A late-night gyro at Nefelie’s was the best I’ve had in Charlotte. And to top it off? The side of fries were good down to the very last crumb. When the clock struck 2 a.m., you’d think we’d had enough. Nope, our crew, many of whom were jealous of our gyro, decided to grab a pizza each at Zablong Peculiar Pizza. Pro tip: my fave pizza spot stays open until 3 a.m. on Friday and Saturday. All pies are oblong-shaped and no matter how many toppings you get you pay $10!

If you’ve been in Charlotte for the fall/winter, you know Sundays are reserved for Panthers football. But this past Sunday, we switched up the venue and hopped in an Uber to Ink N Ivy. Brought to you by the owners of other local favorites such as Whiskey Warehouse, Slate and All American, Ink N Ivy represents the perfect marriage of sports entertainment and aesthetic in Uptown Charlotte and I’m all for it.

While my boyfriend was surveying the landscape, stressed about finding a good spot for a perfect view of the game, I was obsessing over the eclectic décor — chandeliers, raw edge furniture, skulls and of course, “tattoo ink” stencils on the walls. Oh, and I can’t forget the beautifully-tattooed waitress and bar-back with a manbun.

Even though the venue was packed, I put our name down and grabbed a drink. Somehow, just 20 minutes later, we managed to snag the perfect high-top table, right by the door, away from the congestion and directly below a TV labeled “Panthers vs. Chiefs.”

We ended up taking over the spot with my partner-in-crime, her sister and their friend for hours. And while we’ve heard many friends haven’t been captivated by the menu, we tried the classic nachos with pulled pork with barbecue sauce and were impressed. (The cilantro cream sauce easily moved them to the top of my Q.C. nacho list.) Did I mention they have an epic patio complete with its own bar? You’re welcome.

If you’re craving some new “ink” in Charlotte, you’ll be itching with withdrawals after visiting this spot.

From Eritrean cuisine in Elizabeth to slot machines in South Carolina

Posted By on Wed, Nov 23, 2016 at 11:23 AM

I have a new secret spot and it’s only three minutes away from my condo. When I first moved to Elizabeth, my mom was dead set on finding a place to get my curtains washed. She ended up going to a laundromat down the street with a sign that read: “Laundry Lavanderia.” Specific enough? I think so. Next door, was another straight-to-the-point sign over a storefront that read: East African Cuisine. I immediately became curious. Would I love East African food as much as I loved West African cuisine? In her usual conservative, play-it-safe fashion, my mom warned against trying new food and my anxiety took over.

A few months later, one of my Q.C. besties started working at a bar in the area called Oya Lounge — name subject to change in the coming months. “You know where the Bojangles’ is by your house?” she asked. I did, but I still couldn’t figure out where this lounge may be. One night, I was bored and decided to meet her there and grab a couple drinks. To my surprise, the lounge was connected to East African Cuisine, the restaurant I’d been eyeballing.

I walked through the restaurant door and followed my bestie into the lounge area. A full bar, private booths, a raised DJ booth, hookah, multiple TVs and a spacious back patio. The best part? You can order food from the restaurant pretty much all night long! With my friend behind the bar and temporarily filling the role of DJ, the night couldn’t have gone better. And on top of that, I’ve managed to make friends with some pretty hilarious characters during my visits.

Did I mention I tried the food? Since my first visit just a couple weeks ago, I’ve eaten vegetarian dumplings (samosas), honey-Sriracha chicken wings and a traditional Eritrean dish featuring beef and injera — a soft, stretchy, spongy sourdough-risen flatbread. And let me tell you, everything I’ve tried has been amazing.

After spending Thursday and Friday night at Oya Lounge, a couple of my old co-workers decided it was time to get out of Charlotte for a minute. Spontaneous trips are my jam! The last time I stepped outside of the Q.C. for a quick drive to anywhere other than my hometown, I ended up stopping in Little River, South Carolina for a night before checking in at an Airbnb on Oak Island the following day.

During my stay, I ventured to a couple waterfront bars, The Pilot House and Key West Crazy Waterfront Restaurant & Bar. While there, I’d noticed signs for The Big “M” Casino, a ship featuring Las Vegas-style gaming. So I knew exactly what some old co-workers were talking about once they suggested boarding a cruise called The Big “M” outside of Myrtle Beach and I was down for the cause!

We left the Queen City around 12 p.m. on Saturday and, even though I was running on two hours of sleep, the excitement of spontaneity carried me through the first two and half hours of the ride. Coincidentally, one of my old co-workers reserved the same hotel I’d stayed in the last time I was in Little River. We pre-gamed at the Key West Crazy (KWC), which was right next to the dock where ships I and II (smoking and non-smoking) were docked — talk about convenience.

We’d already purchased our boarding passes ($25 each, but you can snag a voucher when you book your stay at a local hotel) so after a couple RBVs, we walked right out of KWC and onto the boat. We pestered one of the employees on how the process worked as far as getting a player’s card, starting to play and what to play, then we were good to go.

My eyes lit up with dollar signs the moment we started exploring two full floors of slot machines, blackjack, poker and craps tables. We had to cruise for about 45 minutes before we could legally gamble, so we decided to hit the third deck bar. Drinks were super cheap and just as strong, a dangerous combo for a gambler — especially a gambler who tends to get motion sickness.

The run down? We had a blast! No one threw up. I managed to lose only $100 on slot machines and one of my old co-workers won $250. If you’re searching for a good time and trying to get “lucky” somewhere other than Dandelion Market, The Big “M” Casino is only a three-hour drive and a night’s stay away.

Thursday, October 27, 2016

Making friends at Corner Pub

Posted By on Thu, Oct 27, 2016 at 11:31 AM

Over the past couple weeks the running theme has been spending more time with friends and letting loose. In the process, I’ve learned that while drinking during the week fosters great conversations, more than one glass of wine is still a bad idea.

Nevertheless, a mid-week escapade took me to The Corner Pub. Located at the corner of N. Graham Street and W. 7th Street, this popular Fourth Ward hangout serves up great food and has drink specials every single night of the week. A co-worker of mine, who lives above The Corner Pub in the same building, had spoken of epic nights of hanging out on the patio. She and a few others meet for “wine club” on Tuesdays. Why? Well, $3 glasses of wine, of course.

The first time I visited Corner Pub was completely by happenstance. My co-worker peer-pressured me into grabbing a couple drinks between work and a show at The Fillmore. As soon as we walked in, she ordered a drink for both of us. When the bartender didn’t ask for her debit card I knew I’d found a true neighborhood bar. Shortly after, I was sipping and chatting with the regulars. One, with amazing blonde dreads, noticed I was wearing a skirt similar to one she’d picked up but was too long for her to wear. Then she ran up to her apartment to bring it down! Talk about making friends?!

The following Tuesday, I was added to the “wine club” group chat and made special arrangements for my car. Five glasses of wine later, I knew I’d made the right decision. My co-workers and I discussed everything from the “Charlotte riots” to political ideals and everything in between.
Side note: Have you ever tried tachos? Picture nachos and sub tater tots for the chips. They are to die for. I have now ordered them there four times in the past month.

The next day, my best friend and I were coordinating date night at McGlohon Theater for a show. I asked her to meet me at Corner Pub so we could grab a drink beforehand. And guess what? The bartender knew my drink order and followed with, “Tachos with queso, chili, sour cream, jalapenos and ranch on the side?” (Isn't #officialregular appropriate now?!)

After the show, when we returned, another regular who had shared his chicken wings the night before strolled past. We continued our conversation from the night before. My bestie and I were feeling cultured after our show, so we were more than happy to continue our artistic journey as he shared poetry in the form of spoken word and prose. While we didn’t want the night to end, we had to accept the fact that the morning would be there before we knew it.

Friends. Drink specials. Karaoke. Tachos. Panthers hangout. Check! It’s official, if you’re looking for a neighborhood bar any day of the week, The Corner Pub is lit! (And you can actually park on the street there — shh.)

Thursday, October 20, 2016

A Series of Fortunate Events: Part Two

Posted By on Thu, Oct 20, 2016 at 7:00 AM

In last week’s column I started a series based around random happenings in the Q.C. Spurred by a rift between my boy toy and I two weeks ago, I decided to take the opportunity to surround myself with friends. I forced myself — an only child and recluse at heart — to break my usual routine of work, nap, eat and sleep. Instead, I rallied every night of the week. What happened next, was the start of a really great book.

After attending a last minute show, Esperanza Spalding: Emily’s D+Evolution, with my bestie and binge watching Luke Cage all week, I was left feeling empowered and thought, “I can drink all the drinks and no one can stop me.” I was wrong, of course, but I still managed to make it through the work week without excruciating hangovers. That Friday, I realized I had two tickets to Creative Loafing’s Best of Charlotte party and the weekend had officially begun.

After scrounging all the drink tickets at BofC, and realizing Red Bull was nowhere to be found, I settled on a sour I hadn’t tried...Aunt Sally maybe? Full of beer and maxed out on dominating the conversation, I accepted I was a third wheel and should seek fun elsewhere. I stopped by The Brass Tap, where I was convinced to take a shot, before heading to The Local in Uptown. I ended up dancing the night away on the small dance floor in front of the DJ booth — yes, solo twerking is a norm for me.

Naturally, the next morning I wasn’t feeling 100 percent. I had settled on the idea of retail therapy at Concord Mills and lunch at IKEA — have you ever tried the Swedish meatballs there?! Honestly, truly, they’re to die for. While at the mall, a co-worker started blowing me up on my phone. “Do you want to go on a trolley pub crawl around 2?” she asked.

I let out a few sighs. The way my bank account was set up after a shopping spree and the way my stomach was set up after a full week of drinking, I attempted to dodge the invite via text: “Where y’all picking up at? I’m at IKEA so I might be a minute.” Ineffective, she sent the location (in Google maps), followed up with the required smart waiver and a series of texts that read: “Okay! Just be there by 2:15! Pick up a six-pack on the way. You can meet us.”

There was no way I was getting out of this. Can I use the “I’m black and what about my hair excuse?” Nope. Even though Hurricane Matthew was in full effect, I hadn’t gotten my hair done in weeks. While contemplating, I read through the texts and noted: We have extra jackets and ponchos. P.S. the trolley is completely covered. They have tarp walls. I scarfed a few Swedish meatballs — after all, that was certainly a priority — packed my large purchase in my car and headed to NoDa for a rainy-day pub crawl.

For months, my friends and I had contemplated setting up a day drinking excursion with Trolley Pub Charlotte but kept putting it off. And now, I had the opportunity to give it a whirl — for free! I turned my frown right side ‘round and prepared for the need to rally.

Once I arrived at the first stop — Heist Brewery — John and Vincent greeted me with a warm smile, took a look at my waiver, snapped a group pic and next thing you know I was straddling a bicycle seat with a beer in hand. The only rules? You have to be buckled in when the trolley was in motion and you can’t put your foot on the ground with a drink in your hand. Fair enough.

We pedaled from Heist to Free Range Brewery and ended the tour at Jack Beagles, where my friends tried to force me to take a whiskey pickle back shot. Have you ever had one? On top of six beers? That wasn’t happening. And after I figured out that I didn’t actually have to pedal, I realized I was having a really good time.

Considering Trolley Pub Charlotte for your next outing in the Q.C.? Here are a few pro tips:
1. BYOB for rides between stops. Beer or wine, plastic or can and you’re good to go.
2. Prepare for the weather. Hurricane Matthew is over, but who knows what the weather will be like for your crawl.
3. Be strategic with your crawl. You’ll want to enjoy being able to drink and ride while also hitting up some cool spots. Find balance between distance and quality breweries.

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

A Series of Fortunate Events: Part One

Posted By on Tue, Oct 18, 2016 at 4:30 PM

My boyfriend and I were on the outs for all last week. Instead of rolling myself into a ball and forcing myself into seclusion, I decided to surround myself with people who genuinely bring a smile to face. What happened was totally unexpected, but what I’d like to call a series of fortunate events. 

Every single day of the week I had “plans” — i.e., a distraction from reality. Most of these plans involved one too many drinks, but hey, it was better than doing the same thing alone. The first? An invitation to a musical performance Uptown.

On Wednesday, one of my closest friends who I’ve known since high school, asked if I wanted to go with her to a show — Esperanza Spalding: Emily’s D+Evolution. Even though I was familiar with the name, I didn’t know exactly what to expect. After all, my music taste is fairly diverse and I wasn’t sure which Pandora station had led me to Esperanza. But free tickets to a show with my bestie? I wasn’t going to turn that down.

Coincidentally, the performance was held at McGlohon Theater at Spirit Square, a venue the two of us had visited frequently for Elevation Church Uptown.

As soon as we found our seats, we were captivated by the soulful and unique presence of Esperanza. A petite frame with the eccentricity of Erykah Badu, I fell in love with every word she sang, movement she made and instrument she played. I sat on the edge of my seat as Emily’s D+Evolution unfolded in the form of a stage play in front of me. As it turns out, the intimate venue was perfect for viewing this performance. It was a nice surprise to revisit this venue considering how so many popular Charlotte music spots are shutting their doors this year.

After the show, I jokingly asked an attendant if there were any way for us to meet her. She responded, “If you buy something, she’ll be signing autographs for 15 minutes.” I looked at my bestie and knew immediately that we’d be pulling out our debit cards.

I have a secret obsession with vinyl, and so does she, so we snagged two records and waited patiently in line. We were disappointed when the line attendant informed us we weren’t allowed to take pictures — one out-of-towner who we joked with while standing in line actually got caught when her digital camera’s flash went off; talk about awkward turtle. We giggled nervously, concerned that security would confuse us with the culprit and kick us out of line.

Have you ever thought about what you would say to your favorite musician? Let alone, one you’ve never really heard of that you’d just fallen in love with? What if you only had a few moments to capture their attention? I’d thought about it many times over in regards to other favorites of mine.
If I ever got the chance to meet Lil Wayne, who I’m obsessed with, what would I do if the words never quite came out? And as I watched Esperanza fully engaged in a conversation with a man just a few steps away, I wished desperately that I could hear what he was saying that was so intriguing to a Grammy-Award winning artist.

Another fan, a young girl with a guitar in her arms, cried incessantly after Esperanza had left her mark on what was sure to be the instrument she would treasure for the rest of her life. I sighed because I appear to be young but not small or cute enough to gain her sympathy as an aspiring rock star.

I looked down at the song list on the back of my newly-purchased vinyl and located the titles of my two favorite songs from the performance, “Unconditional Love” and “Funk the Fear.” Maybe I could explain to her how those songs meant so much to me especially while going through a separation period? It was too late.

As I approached the table, armed with my phone that had been recording a voice memo for 10 minutes preparing for the interaction, the only words that came out of my mouth were, “Such an amazing show, will you marry me?”

She looked up at me, smiled kindly and responded, “I’m sorry, I can’t.”

Share some of your meet and greet memories with bands and musicians at backtalk@clclt.com.

Thursday, October 6, 2016

No Need for Plans in the Q.C.

Posted By on Thu, Oct 6, 2016 at 2:55 PM

Only an hour-long wait at Soul Gastrolounge. Unicorn balloons and throw up in the corner of Thomas Street Tavern. And premier seats for watching the game at Dilworth Neighborhood Grille. That just about sums up this past weekend in the Queen City. Surprisingly, none of it was planned.

I’ve fallen into a rut in the nightlife scene lately. I’m not sure if I’ve been going to same places too often or if recent events in the city have put a damper on looking for an adventure. Nevertheless, I refused to waste the weekend away being trapped in the house.

After spending Friday evening catching some high school football with my boyfriend — and missing out on a slice of pizza I’d been craving all day long — most of my homies were too tired to rally. I didn’t complain though, I decided to get some well-needed rest.

The next morning, my boyfriend and I skipped our Saturday morning sleep-in and hopped in the car to head to Little Spoon Eatery. The last time I went to this popular brunch spot featuring old school hip-hop, Luke Kuechly waltzed in for a tasty breakfast of his own. Never a dull moment! This time, I ventured away from my usual: eggs over-medium, cinnamon toast brulee and pork belly bacon. And while I wished I had stayed in my own lane, I’m genuinely amazed by the Southern staples sprinkled with Korean fare.

After breakfast, my boyfriend’s priority was getting home to watch the game. But I wanted to get a few minutes of shopping in. I begged him to take me to Anthropologie in South End before we had to rush back for babysitting his nephews. Surprisingly, he agreed — even though he was sitting on a display couch after 10 minutes into perusing. In any event, I snagged a few coasters I’d been eyeing for months and convinced him to check out the Atherton Mill market before heading home.

Did you know that cats can get testy around two-year-olds? Welp, we figured that out after watching my boyfriend’s nephews for a few hours Saturday afternoon. In spite of a two to three-hour naptime, my cat and I were “hangry” (a mix of hungry and angry) and exhausted by the time the bambinos made their exit, so we rushed to Soul Gastrolounge in the hopes of getting a table before the dinner rush.

If you’ve read my articles before you know that I’m obsessed with this cozy little tapas spot in Plaza Midwood. But getting a table can feel impossible after 8 o’clock. Many frequenters are familiar with the popular venue’s two-hour wait times. But guess what? We only had to wait for 45 minutes! Yes, I know, be jealous.

After a mule, RBV, sushi, shrimp skewers, goat cheese flatbread and a cubanini, we were ready to take on the night. Our first stop? Whiskey Warehouse to catch up with a co-worker. Home of arguably one of the best rooftop bars in the Queen City, it was a beautiful night for cocktails and people-watching. Afterwards, my boyfriend was a responsible adult and decided to head home. I, on the other hand, headed over to Thomas Street Tavern to kick with my partner in crime. Big mistake. The patio was packed which led to drunk convos with random people and a surprise burp forced me into the corner for some relief, if you catch my drift. Soon after, I called an Uber to go home.

The next morning I had the privilege — well, battling a hangover made any task a challenge — of attending the baptism of a good friend. It was an uplifting and terrifying experience all at once. A couple of us ended up being on camera for the event, but seeing the appreciation on my friend’s face made it all worth it.

After the service, I grabbed a biscuit and pondered whether or not I’d make plans for Sunday Funday while my boyfriend had “guy’s time.” My partner in crime convinced me that laying on the couch wasn’t an option. The next thing you know, I’m basking in an amazing booth at Dilworth Neighborhood Grille. I’d been anticipating visiting this bar for a while and was pleasantly surprised that on game day, in a packed house featuring a brunch buffet that we scored a booth all to ourselves. Mimosas, please?!

Of course, one thing led to another and a quick trip and a couple drinks turned into Sunday Funday madness that ended with crab legs at Hooters Uptown. I can’t complain though, an unplanned weekend turned into a weekend win!

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