Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Talib show cancelled

In an email, promoter Mike Kitchen announced that Wednesday's Talib Kweli show at the Neighborhood Theatre has been cancelled, but will be rescheduled.

Beyonce did the darn thang!

An all-female band, thick sisters as background singers and a non-stumbling Beyonce filling the stage.
That was the scene on Sunday at Bobcats Arena as thousands of folks screamed and danced during a nearly two-hour performance that was part girl-power, self-love and romantic-love.

I wasn’t sure how much of Beyonce's hip-shaking I could take, but she balanced her signature moves with routines by dancers and solos by band members. I can’t stop raving about the all-female band, made up mostly of women of color. It sent such a strong message to the thousands of young girls in the audience.

Beyonce gave plenty of space during, before and after songs for each member to shine.
The best was the blond-dredlocked bassist who played OutKast’s “So Fresh, So Clean,” the hook to “Get Money,” and other fan favorites. She finished her solo by playing the bass behind her head and giving it a long lick.

During the nearly two-hour set, Beyonce played every hit from her albums, as well as Destiny’s Child favorites and songs from the “Dreamgirls” soundtrack. The best were “Get Me Bodied,” “Irreplaceable” (which she dedicated to men and women who’ve been hurt in relationships), and “Dangerously in Love” (which she blended with Jill Scott’s “You Love Me”).

Her cheesiest moment of the night was crying at the end of “That’s Why I Love You.” She cried after singing the song in ATL as well, so you know she's just putting her acting skills to use.

Her best moment of the night was when she wiped her face with a towel she then gave to a guy wearing a white golf shirt. She told him that he was her biggest fan, and she’d watched him sing all the songs and do all of the choreography to the dances. She made sure security handed the young man the towel. The gesture said a lot about how she cares about her fans, and how she paid attention to her audience. Nice.

I’m not a huge fan of Robin Thicke, who opened with a respectable 30-plus-minute opening set, in which he played piano during some songs. He’s cute as all get out and I love “Lost Without U,” but the blue-eyed soul singer has little singing ability.

Did you go to the concert? What did you think? Post your replies below.

Monday, July 30, 2007

Did Menage shoot itself in the foot?

In my New Year’s prediction last year, I said Menage would be the place to watch because it had changed so much since opening in 2004.

In 2006, it went from being a premier nightspot to adding a restaurant on the second floor – weird – to allowing black promoters to book prime weekend nights (often a sign of money problems).

The reported sale of Menage is dramatic considering the hype surrounding the club’s opening. Before The Forum opened, Menage was the hotness, with three levels, posh lounge areas and a giant slide.

But drama also surrounded Menage from the git-go.
Not long after opening, there was a flap between owner Stefan Latorre and well-known local DJ Niz -- Niz said he wasn't compensated for being a consultant for Menage, while Latorre said Niz never worked for the club. Niz's backers began an e-mail campaign urging people not to go there; the note also alleged that Latorre snubbed two owners of the trendsetting Cosmos Cafe who had stopped by Menage's grand opening to congratulate him.

In the spring of 2005, the club came under fire when it stopped playing hip-hop on Fridays, a night which had been drawing a predominately black crowd.

Then later that year came the biggest of the controversies: A promoter accused the club of racial bias after the cancellation of a party that drew mostly blacks. The Charlotte-Mecklenburg Community Relations Committee cleared the club of any wrongdoing.

Not long after that PR fiasco, Latorre denied rumors that he was trying to sell the club and he turned the second floor into the restaurant Belle’s BBQ.

He also began reaching out more to black promoters. In recent months, Adolph R. Shiver had begun hosting parties there featuring various rap artists. This is significant because historically, many white Charlotte club owners have allowed black promoters to host parties at their venues to raise cash; it happened at Time (which is now closed), Liquid Lounge, and Crush, which is now a mostly hip-hop club. (Insiders tell me the reason that financially strapped clubs do this is because blacks, especially young ones, spend loads of money at bars.)

The fall of Menage is unfortunate. Had it been able to thrive alongside The Forum, it would have made Charlotte an even bigger regional draw and strengthened our nightlife overall. It’s hard for a city with only one upscale dance club to be a real nightlife destination.
Latorre hasn't responded to an e-mail request confirming the sale of the club and on his decision to sell the venue.)

Do you think all of the negative incidents killed Menage, or is Charlotte not big enough for two huge dance clubs? Post your replies below.

Menage sold - surprise, surprise

Menage’s tumultuous ride as a premiere nightclub has ended. James Funderburk, who co-founded Tonic lounge, issued a press release today saying he and several partners have purchased Menage and Belle’s BBQ from Stefan Latorre. (Latorre has not responded to an e-mail request confirming the sale.)

Funderburk and his partners, who include Tonic’s Andre Araiz, won’t release any details about what they plan to do with the space. Their goal is to quench partiers' thirst for Tonic, a cool lounge at Fourth Street and Independence Boulevard that closed in 2005 because of construction near Central Piedmont Community College.

In an e-mail, Funderburk said “We envision a place that will become part of the fabric of Charlotte uptown culture, not just for nightlife, but for all times. A place to eat, a place to relax, a place to party, a place for people who love people.”

Although Funderburk and Araiz want to appeal to fans of Tonic, Funderburk said he won’t try to re-create Tonic.
“It existed in a certain time and place that could never be re-created. What we strive for now is a new dream that we know our friends and supporters will love.”

Thank goodness. Every new lounge owner says he wants to re-create Tonic’s vibe, but none have. What would you like to see Funderburk and his partners do with Menage? Post your replies below.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

New hangout on Central Avenue

Nearly a decade ago, the Avramovic brothers -- Branko and Djordje (pronounced Georgie) -- started as busboys and barbacks at Cosmos Cafe. After working their way up to become servers and bartenders, the two realized a lifelong dream on Wednesday when they officially opened their own restaurant: Intermezzo at Central and Louise.

The restaurant has the potential to expand Plaza-Midwood offerings beyond Pecan Street. It’s a tiny spot across from the Salvation Army that features a mix of American and Yugoslavian food, including many family recipes. For example, their burger is made of beef and lamb and called pleskavica.

At a friends and family party on Sunday, I liked what I saw.
The brothers are humble and gracious, the food - pizza, along with lamb, chicken and beef kabobs - was yummy-yummy to my tummy. The draft beer selection is sweet. They have Duck Rabbit on tap.

Interior designer Boris Tomic, who worked on Cosmos and the Forum, created a warm, industrial look with exposed brick and beams. The place only seats 50 people, but the Avramovic brothers plan to expand as business grows. They will have a DJ spinning downtempo house on some Fridays and Saturdays, and every Sunday.

DJ Jazzy who?

One show that was unquestionably worth attending was the DJ Jazzy Jeff set at Amos’ last Saturday. Promoter Mike Kitchen has been trying to get Jazzy Jeff here for years, and he finally landed him.

As I’ve written before, I only knew him as rapper-actor Will Smith’s sidekick, but now I know what I’ve been missing. At Amos’, Jazzy Jeff spun classic hip-hop for about two hours. He gave fans songs that only true hip-hop heads knew, as well as a healthy dose of faves with his West Coast, East Coast and rock sets.

Several hundred people grooved to Jazzy Jeff’s tunes while MC Mad Skillz worked the mike. Jazzy Jeff did a smidgen of impressive scratching, but he mostly spun cuts folks wanted to hear. Songs ranged from Dr. Dre’s “Nuthin’ But A G Thang” to Common’s “The Light” to Nirvana’s “Smells Like Teen Spirit.”

Although plenty of people danced at Amos’ during the show, Jazzy Jeff would be an even better fit deejaying at a dance club or party. I hope he returns for the CIAA basketball tournament next year, because that would be a party not to miss.

Monday, July 23, 2007

DMX crazy as ever

I was out of town on Wednesday, and it sounds like I missed a crazy night. Josh Groban cancelled at the last minute because of laryngitis (read Courtney Devores' interview with him in the A-List on Page 2A of Tuesday's Observer.)

My buddy Larken said he loved DMX’s performance, but that opener Bazaar Royale was horrible. I, however, also heard from reliable sources that DMX’s antics at Amos’ Southend may have been more ridiculous than Meshell Ndegeocello's. I have a feeling he won’t be playing at Amos’ again.

Here are a few e-mails the Observer received about the DMX show.

From Ray Anderson:
He got on stage around 12:40. I had to wait around in order to review it (I write for charlottevibe.com). All I kept thinking was “I’m missing ‘King of the Hill’ for this?”
He played/prayed until 2 a.m. and did A LOT of preaching between songs. I kept thinking to myself, "Well, it is Wednesday night" (the night normally associated with bible study).
Maybe Josh Groban cancelled because he wanted to go to the DMX concert.

From Leah Day:
When we first arrived and got in line to give our tickets, we noticed on the counter there was a notice that said DMX would start at 11:30 p.m. and that the bar was not responsible for his punctuality. Our tickets said 8 p.m. Seeing that, we decided to go take advantage of Therapy’s half-price martini night until 11:15 p.m. in case it started at 11:30.
The concert was excellent, and lasted a decent amount of time. I was all the way up front and really enjoyed the performance. My friend caught the T-shirt he threw out. Overall, I think it was worth the wait and my friends and I all said we would go again if he came to town.

From Heather Blake:
Had a great time! Yes, he came on stage a little late -- around 12:30 a.m. -- but he’s rather notorious for doing so. Amos’ had several signs posted at the door that the Bazaar Royale started at 10:30 p.m. and DMX at 11:30 p.m.; however, right below they also clearly stated that they were not responsible for the artists’ punctuality.
Do I wish they had been a little more clear about what time the show started? Of course. But it’s a concert -- relax, and just have a good time. I’m most definitely not a rap fan usually, but he was worth the wait.

A really angry lady:
Doors opened at 8 p.m. and DMX was supposed to be there from 9:30 p.m.-10:30 p.m., so we got there around 8 p.m. and waited while some DJ played.
Waited...waited...waited...and about 10:30 p.m., we got angry.
So about 11 p.m., I went up to the lady at the front and asked if DMX was even going to perform. She said, "He’ll be on at 11:30 p.m." About 11:25 p.m. his cover band played for about half an hour. About 12:30 a.m., I wanted to go home, so we went up to the lady at the front and demanded our money back.
We didn't get it, but the point is we paid for a concert on Wednesday night, not one on Thursday morning.

Like I said, I didn’t go to the concert, and I’m glad I didn’t. Anyone who goes to rap concerts at clubs knows that the main act often doesn’t go on until 11 or 11:30 p.m. (Yes, after midnight is a bit ridiculous. This is Charlotte, not D.C.)
Your best bet is to call the venue and ask what time the main act will perform if you don’t want to arrive too early. Anyway, I’m glad I didn’t go to the show because I can’t take the whole preaching/rapping thing. DMX obviously has issues, and if he wants to express that in his lyrics, that's fine. But I’m not going to a concert to hear him preach.

Have anything to add? Post your replies below.

A week in New Mexico

Last year, my mom invited my girl and I to spend a week in New Mexico. My mom’s best friend Sue has a cabin that her family owns in the mountains between Taos and Eagle Nest. Sue’s mother, whom I called Momma Sarah, vacations in New Mexico every summer to escape the Oklahoma heat.

I want to eventually move to the Southwest, so I’m always looking for opportunities to explore that region of the country. I went to Phoenix a few years ago for a journalism convention. It was pretty, but I remember stepping off the airplane at midnight and it was 100 degrees. A hundred degrees at night!

The forecast for Santa Fe and Taos, where we also would be staying, called for cooler temperatures than that, so I was excited. I’d never been to New Mexico, and my vision of the Southwest is based on the movies “Waiting to Exhale” and “Boys on the Side.”

I imagined lovely adobe houses with miles and miles of land, pretty scenery and laid-back people. I got some of that, but I also got carsick from all the winding roads, a broken windshield from flying rocks, locals who look at black people as if they’d only seen them in magazines (one woman called us a novelty) and lots of poverty.

Hotel heaven and not-so heavenly

After flying into Albuquerque on Saturday, we drove to Santa Fe for the night. We met my mom and her friend Sue in the lobby of our hotel, the Eldorado, a picturesque hotel with huge columns out front and grand steps leading to the entrance. The rooms were stately, but the hotel is a rip-off for $299 a night.

The valet service is slower than mud. (Actually, everything in Santa Fe and Taos is slow. No one moves with a sense of urgency, which drove me nuts.) They lost our car. They didn’t have free Internet access, and their mojitos weren’t all that. Did I mention the hotel cost $299 a night?

My mom and Sue stayed about a block away in the Inn of the Governor’s on West Alameda Street. It’s rustic, with cute little fireplaces in the rooms and free breakfast. And I’m not talking about Comfort Inn-style dry cereal and muffins -- they had eggs cooked with peppers and onions, bacon and sausage, fruit, yogurt, waffles and French toast. That’s what I’m talking about. The hotel bar, the Saloon, seemed to be the most popular hangout in all of Santa Fe.

Whoa, he sounds like Tracy Chapman

After cocktails, we went to the Inn and Spa at Loretto on the Old Santa Fe Trail for dinner. We sat outside on the patio of the hotel’s restaurant, Baleen Santa Fe. The patio had a white canopy and it looked like the kind of place where you could have a small wedding.

Matthew Andrea played guitar, and if you closed your eyes, he sounded like a less-raspy Tracy Chapman. Andrea played covers, originals and instrumentals. He complemented the vibe with a soothing set that wasn’t too loud, but still audible enough to sing along if you wanted.

The hotel is one of those fancy places where the food looks pretty, the portions look small and your bill looks big. I ate the giant sea scallop with mussels in a broth. My mom tried the poached Halibut with forbidden rice. (It’s dark purple and sweet. The waiter said ancient Chinese emperors served it to their concubines.) My girl and Sue ate the salmon.

After eating, I was surprisingly stuffed and had little room for sopadillas (a fried pastry square filled with rich dark chocolate) for dessert. I preferred my mom’s hot doughnuts and my girl’s apple tart topped with ice cream.

If you’re going to Santa Fe, the Loretto is definitely worth a splurge. And they don’t have any mosquitoes in Santa Fe, so you can sit outside without dousing yourself in Off.

Partying in Santa Fe

After we put my mom and Sue to bed, my girl and I wandered the streets of Santa Fe looking to get into something. Santa Fe is rich in history and art culture. It’s not rich in nightlife.

We strolled through the square area, but most of the places were bars and none of them were jumping enough to stop. After partying Friday night at Charlotte’s NV, and then rising at the crack of light to fly to New Mexico, I was exhausted and needed a loud, busy bar to keep me awake.

It was Saturday night, but the town was dead except for a cover band performing at a tiny joint. After noting the shops we wanted to visit during business hours, we headed back to the hotel about 11 p.m. (1 a.m. Charlotte time) and called it a night.

Braving hail and falling rocks

On Wednesday, my girl and I headed to Red River, a “ski resort” about 30 miles north of Sue’s mountain cabin. As we drove through the mountains, we noticed signs that warned of bobcats.

We were talking about how cool it would be to get chased by a bobcat when my girl pointed to white stuff in the distance. I said it was cotton. When my car skidded, I realized I had driven into the aftermath of a hailstorm. Marble-sized pellets lined the highway and the landscape.

I rolled down the window. It was cold outside. I turned the car around to return to the cabin. (We wore shorts, sandals and T-shirts -- not exactly cold-weather clothes.) But then I decided I couldn't resist driving into a hailstorm in a rental car, so I turned around again and forged ahead toward Red River.

We eased around twisting roads only to find our lane blocked by mounds of fallen rocks and boulders. Awesome! We plodded along for another 10 miles, crunching through hail and easing past debris in the road to reach Red River.

Jesus stuff and saloons

Jack Bell, a friend of Sue’s family, told us that Red River was a one-road town where cowboys from Texas hang out. Although it’s called a ski town, Jack said real skiers don’t go there. I could see why. I swear one of the slopes runs into a building. Red River has a mile-long main street with a couple of saloons and cafes. The place that caught my eye had a sign advertising wireless Internet, coffee, jewelry and Jesus stuff. Yep, Jesus stuff. I had to go inside.

The Jesus stuff place had T-shirts that read "Jesus has MySpace in heaven," or something like that. There were other Jesus shirts, a jewelry case and various trinkets.

We stopped for a drink and a game of pool at the Bull of Woods Saloon. Before leaving, we tried Tractor Brewing Company’s Farmer’s Tan Red Ale. Despite the hearty name, it was a light beer.

Folks inside the saloon, and on the streets of Red River, looked at us as if they’d never seen real black people. Apparently, the percentage of African Americans in the Santa Fe and Taos area is miniscule. Mostly whites, Mexicans and Native Americans live there. Tourists tend to be from Texas, Arizona and Oklahoma, where it’s blazing hot in the summer.

We were a novelty, as someone put it.

Bobcats, bears and elk - oh my

New Mexico’s nightlife isn’t much to brag about, but the scenery is. The air is so clean and the land is so flat that you can see miles of mountains that make the ones along the Blue Ridge Parkway look like hills. The rock formations, such as Camel Rock, are gorgeous.

We didn’t see any bobcats or bears, but on a hike Thursday morning we saw real bear poop. And on our way to dinner at Sue’s sister’s house in Angel Fire on Thursday night, we saw two elk. This one wasn’t camera-shy.

Albuquerque's night scene is funny

On Friday, we stayed in Albuquerque to catch our early-morning Saturday flight. In Albuquerque, I finally got my taste of nightlife. The city’s entertainment district is along Central Avenue. The downtown area is clean and reminds me of Charlotte’s nightlife in the late ’90s and early ’00s -- i.e. there wasn't much to do.

The police close Central Avenue for about four blocks. Three cops on horses patrolled, as well as cops in cars and on foot. Mind you, the party section is only about four blocks and most of the action is in a two-block radius.

One mounted cop cracked me up. She trotted out from the plaza area with her left hand on her hip, her head high and a grin on her face. I couldn’t tell if she was policing or parading. Nevertheless, she and all of the other officers got serious quick at the first sign of trouble. They tooted their whistles (hard to mount a siren on a horse) and trotted over to the trouble spot. Partiers quickly cleared the street. Being trampled by a horse would have been a buzz-kill.

Along with being serious about quelling trouble, the folks in Albuquerque are equally serious about preventing underage drinking. At most of the bars, clubs and restaurants we checked out, the doorman or server took our ID and scanned it in a machine to check the authenticity.

A gay bar for all types

We started our Central Avenue partying at The District. We found it because we were walking around and heard club music blaring from the outside patio.

It was great. We saw women dressed in all kinds of funky styles, from Earthy tree-huggers to punk to hip-hop to stale-enough-to-be-yo-momma. The range of ages, styles and looks made the District feel more like an alternative club rather than the gay club that it is.

Outside on the patio, a DJ spun club music, and there were two bars, seating and a dance floor. Inside, a DJ spun hip-hop. Three makeup artists painted partiers' bodies and faces for tips. One young woman had a bustier painted on her torso, with matching stockings painted on her legs.

My girl got a wolf and some other kind of design on her chest. It lasted for 10 minutes before she sweated it off on the dance floor. It was real cute for those 10 minutes. Speaking of dancing, you know it wouldn’t be a night of clubbing if an older white lady didn’t try to steal my girl on the dance floor. This one latched onto my girl’s thumb -- and tried to latch onto other things -- and wouldn’t let go.

Hanging on Central Avenue

After leaving the District, we went to Sauce/Raw, a popular dance club. Sauce has a dance floor, bar, sofas in a lounge area, a projector showing eye-candy, and various art mediums on the wall. It reminded me of a much smaller and warmer Forum. A DJ spun club mixes of top 40 songs.

Inside Sauce, a line stretched from the doorway that led to Raw, the hip-hop club. (Imagine if the doorway leading from Forum to Pravda were closed.) I didn’t wait in line, but from what I could see while standing outside, Raw reminded me of Tilt. It looked long, with a bar and a patio.

After leaving Sauce, we walked across the street to the Distillery Downtown. Think Fox & Hound without the TVs. After leaving the Distillery, we bought water from a hot dog vendor and sat on a bench to people-watch. It was the highlight of our night.

I have never in my life seen so many women wearing shirts two thousand sizes too small and shoes one million sizes too big.

Then there was the guy wearing an oversized suit who looked like he was going to church not the club; two women -- who weren’t a couple -- wore matching denim overalls with one strap hanging down; a man wore a matching shorts and shirt outfit that made him look like a lemon-lime Starburst; a dude walked around with one arm out of his shirt (so not-cool); and a couple of women wore prom dresses for an outdoor concert. Why? Why? Why?

The clubs closed at 1:45 a.m., and I thought the police would rush people home, but they didn’t. Partiers milled about Central Avenue flirting and talking for about an hour. There was at least one fight and one towed car. At one point, an ambulance drove through. The driver politely tooted the horn to get people to move, and when that didn’t work, she said over the loudspeaker, “Move it or lose it.” Wow.

When we left about 2:15 a.m., the police on horses began clearing Central Avenue. The lady cop’s horse stopped to eat branches off a tree, and then several people came up to feed it more branches or pet it.

If we ever get mounted police here, I hope they’re that nice.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Comedy and The Graduate in Plaza-Midwood

The Graduate is the latest entry into the expanding Plaza-Midwood bar scene. The restaurant and bar opened in the spot that used to be Joe’s Raw Bar at The Plaza and Central Avenue on Friday. The grand opening will be next weekend.

Last Friday, about 50 longtime Graduate regulars, Joe’s Raw Bar faithful and neighborhood residents filed in after 9 p.m. The Graduate is more inviting than Joe’s, which felt dark and depressing. It’s lighter inside with lots of wood from the floor to the tables. There’s a pool table in the back room and the bar is now in front of the door.

Along with giving Plaza-Midwood area residents another watering hole, the Graduate is also home to the Charlotte Comedy Theater. The improv comedy group will perform in the Graduate’s back room every weekend. The bar will also have the NFL package for football season, but there are only a few flat-screen TVs. Still, if they’re showing the Redskins I’ll either be there or at Steamers.

Bone Thugs-N-Harmony at NV

The hundreds of patrons bobbed their heads to the chest-thumping beats. Sweaty men pumped their arms and rapped along with Krayzie Bone, Layzie Bone and Wish Bone as the trio zipped through more than a decade’s worth of material at NV lounge on Friday.

Bone Thugs-n-Harmony fans enjoyed rehashing the group’s tunes with the late Tupac, Notorious B.I.G. and Easy-E as well as rapping to newer cuts such as “I Tried” and “Bump In the Trunk.” The crowd spanned from the front of the stage past the bar to the dance floor. Diehard fans sweated it out near the front on stage. Some sat on the bar. Others stood on bar stools.

The dance floor was nearly empty because so many people crowded toward the stage, but a handful of people danced on the floor where it was cooler and less crowded. Those farther from the stage watched the show on a giant projection screen hanging from the ceiling.

Bone didn’t rap as much as they entertained. The DJ played a song, the crowd screamed and the trio rapped a little, talked a little, stalked a little and kept the crowd hype – a lot. The fans didn’t mind the combination of lip-synching, rapping and dancing as long as the DJ played faves such as “Xcstasy.”

The success of the show underscores NV’s rise as one of the area’s premier nightclubs. Bone performed in Charlotte about a month ago and still drew a sizeable and enthusiastic crowd to the Lake Norman area. NV, which primarily draws partiers north of Charlotte, manages to be a place where blacks, whites and Asians consistently support rap concerts. In Charlotte, with the exception of classic hip-hop performers such as Nas, most rap shows tend to draw a predominately black crowd although the genre’s popularity spans all ethnicities.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Shen Wei not for me

I went to see the Shen Wei Dance Arts group perform at Appalachain State’s Farthing Auditorium last weekend.

My girl’s a dancer, so I surprised her with tickets for her birthday. I didn’t know much about the company except for that it was imaginative and creative, and wouldn’t perform typical modern dance. The group sounded great on paper: It performed at Lincoln Center in New York, and at all kinds of famous festivals throughout the world.

I didn’t realize "imaginative and creative" meant watching dancers perform the same moves over and over. Imagine seeing someone do the “Matrix” move a hundred billion times -- that’s what it felt like watching the performers during their meditatively slow performance. At one point during “Folding,” a woman walked really quickly in a circle so many times she made me dizzy.
I wanted someone to jump in the air and do a split so bad, it wasn’t even funny.

I like to stretch myself with the arts, but Shen Wei drove me nuts. There was a mass exodus to the parking lot during intermission. A lady told me that folks in Boone are retired and conservative, and that Shen Wei was a bit too much for them. The best part of the night was when one of those retirees imitated the first performance during intermission.

My girl and I toughed it out. She liked the performance -- but not enough to see again. Next time, I’ll stick to scraping my nails down a chalkboard.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Rolling with a blonde at Alley Cat

All kinds of Harleys and custom bikes lined the area directly in front of Alley Cat on Tuesday.

It was the bar’s first Bike Night, and about 25 bikers came out early that evening to show off their rides and eat.

I had just polished off a fried bologna sandwich there and was headed to my flag football game when I got a call from Urban Vixen, who was still hanging out there.

Apparently, after I left, employees cleared away tables and created a path through the middle of the club. Then a guy with a cute blonde sitting on his lap drove through the club on a tricked-out, Harley-accessorized go-cart. They looped around the club while the small crowd cheered. A few minutes later, he made another lap with a different blonde. Playa, playa ...

College night at Breakfast Club

The Breakfast Club is still building its fledgling College Night. On Tuesday, about 75 people hung out at the ’80s club dancing to top 40 music while the song’s video played on the screens. The club’s College Night draws a crowd comparable to the partiers you’d see at Bar Charlotte’s College Night.

Owner Jody Sullivan said Tuesday night was light compared to July 3, when the place was packed. They are having a Who Got Served breakdance party there for College Night on July 31.

Thursday, July 05, 2007

Teens flood uptown on the Fourth

Cops on every corner. Cars pulled over along College and Tryon streets. Breathalyzers administered. Men in handcuffs. Swarms of teens pacing up and down Tryon.

That was the scene uptown last night about midnight. Clubs along Tryon Street were either closed or dead. Phil's Deli was the only place that was packed. (Considering Phil's only holds about 100 people, that's not saying much.)

The scene last night underscores two things about this city: 1) Officials are obsessed with protecting uptown (you could have been driving tore-down drunk anywhere else in the Charlotte and in no danger of being arrested), and 2) no one offers people under 21 decent nightlife options.

Co-worker Olivia Fortson has an idea I want you to consider. Since teens take over uptown on the Fourth of July, why not give them that night to party uptown? Clubs and bars along Tryon Street could hire DJs and extra security and admit only those under 21. The clubs could charge a cover and serve only non-alcoholic drinks (at increased prices).

What do bars and clubs along Tryon Street have to lose? Like I said, with the exception of Phil's, everything else was either closed or dead. As an adult, I had no desire to stay uptown and hang out with the cops and the kids.

What do you think? Could it work? Post your replies below.