Thursday, May 31, 2007

Hardcore partier leaving Charlotte

By the time you read this, Party Goers Anonymous founder Doug Hunnington will be heading to his new home in Fort Lauderdale. (His job was outsourced, so he’s moving Friday.)

The 41-year-old started PGA about six years ago. The group sponsored bar crawls and game nights, and Hunnington was a regular at all of the big events. I spoke with him recently about the city’s changing social scene.

Why start PGA?
It was actually something that just happened. I was sending out an e-mail to a few friends, letting them know whose name the happy hour was under that week. Everyone started giving me their e-mails to be included on "the list.” Then people would suggest doing other events.

In just a few months, the list had grown to over 50 names, and we were doing something almost each night. I did a naming contest, and one of the members came up with PGA: Party Goers Anonymous. The e-mail was named The PGA Tour.

How many members on your e-mail list?

What was the social/nightlife scene like when you moved here in 1998?
There were not near as many bars. There were not many social groups. The biggest were (Charlotte Outdoor Adventure) and the Charlotte Skibees, a snow skiing and social club.

How has it changed?
There are grand openings going on around town almost every weekend. Neighborhood bars or restaurants are hosting social events and mixers to bring in business. And, of course, there are several social clubs and organizations in Charlotte.

In addition to the couple I already mentioned, there's, famous for their nightlife photography and bar crawls; RockHouseEvents.Com, which throws some great party events you really have to attend; and several others. Lake Norman even has events now, and most are sponsored by

What are your favorite events?
The Bartender’s Ball, Queen’s Cup Steeplechase, Taste of the Nation and Center City After Five. I also like the formal dress-up Christmas charity events like Second String Santa and Toys for Tots. These are some of the things that will be bringing me back up for a visit.

What does Charlotte need to make nightlife better?
More friends who don’t let friends sit home bored on a Friday or Saturday night! Actually, I’d like to see more theme bars uptown. A club should have a theme other than just dancing or watering down your thirst! I like the new Alley Cat bar with the rock and roll music similar to the old Stray Cats band in the ’80s.
Oh, and I would like to see strict fines for towing companies and parking lot owners who tow vehicles of drunk people left over night. What do they want drivers to do? Drive home drunk?

Are you starting a PGA in Fort Lauderdale?
Yes. For now it will cover the Fort Lauderdale, Boca Raton, and Miami area. I am planning a bar crawl already in the Fort Lauderdale Riverwalk area. They are going to love it! My goal is to get them to visit some of the other cities. I understand folks in Boca won’t travel to Fort Lauderdale, and Fort Lauderdale won’t go down to Miami for events.

I also plan on continuing to lead trips that may include Charlotte folks as well, like the annual cruise in November and maybe Mardi Gras next year. We’ll have to see what the next phase of Party Goers has in store for everyone.