Monday, September 24, 2007

Bringing some soul to Charlotte

As condos sprout uptown and plush new restaurants and spots open, Charlotte’s artsy, creative folks are talking about the soul of this city.

It’s a conversation that’s been going on for years over drinks at the bar or dinner at restaurants. Every now and then, that conversation gets public attention. Creative Loafing once wrote a cover story about the topic. I’ve written about it. A committee of young professionals did a study to see if we were cool, which is pretty darn close to asking if the city has a soul.

A night on the town here is often fun, but too often forgettable.

When is the last time you went to a performance, nightclub, or bar and had such a good experience that you talked about it for weeks? And I’m not talking about remembering the night because you were so hung over the next day that you’ll never drink again. I mean a genuinely good time with good people and good friends, an experience you couldn’t re-create even if you tried (and when you did try, it wasn’t the same).

For me ... let's see, off the top of my head: Celia Cruz at the Blumenthal Performing Arts Center… Marques Wyatt at now-closed Tonic…Oktoberfest in NoDa…The Culinary Arts Experience two years ago…Chuck Brown at the uptown Hilton for CIAA two years ago.

A few Charlotte nightlife trendsetters have turned those complaints about soulless Charlotte into action.
(Read my Sept. 5 blog, "Info on club formerly known as Menage.") The Forum’s Andy Kastanas and local DJ James Fedele are working on a lounge/restaurant called Soul in Plaza-Midwood. (Read my Sept. 24 blog, "Soul is coming to Plaza-Midwood.")

The titles of each project give you an idea of what they’re about. Creating spaces that feed the spirit as well as the body. Both projects are supposed to be places for people who want to their nightlife to consist of more than getting sloppy drunk on cheap beer and Jager bombs, or dancing to the same songs they hear every hour on the radio.

The concepts will add variety to Charlotte’s nightlife. With the exception of live-music venues, our nightlife revolves so much around bad music and cheap drinks, or pricey martinis and pretentiousness.

So tell me, when was the last time you had an unforgettable experience partying in Charlotte? And do you think Charlotte has soul? Why or why not? Post your replies below.


Anonymous said...

I lived in Atlanta, GA for 10 years prior to coming to Charlotte, NC. I think CLT still has to open up to diversity more and let their hair down. If you are going to have a Jazz Cafe, then bring some top name Jazz musicians. Try bidding on the Black Arts festival to come to CLT. Also, have more festivals that cater to diversity and not just race fans and food. Everything in CLT centers around food. Try a nice dinner/supper club with live entertainment, that is affordable and classy. The CIAA is a great event and everyone has a great time. Look at what other cities similiar to CLT are doing for entertainment, and get new ideas.