Why people danced in the middle of Tryon Street Friday


If you’ve never heard of Culture Feast, it’s probably because this is only the second year it’s taken place. On Sept. 9, the Arts & Science Council shut down Tryon Street between Sixth and Seventh streets for the annual event.

The ASC’s goal was to celebrate the cultural community in Charlotte and bring people together to share a meal “and really break down the barriers,” said Bernie Petit, ASC communications manager.

Two long tables bordered the yellow line of the road and held cornbread, honey butter, mixed greens, grilled chicken, roasted corn salad, strawberry shortcake trifle — and, of course, wine, all thanks to Best Impressions Caterers. And a dozen experiences unfolded between the tables throughout the night, including a performance by Opera Carolina singers, a dance by members of Passion For Tango and a social circus extravaganza by Nouveau Sud Project, which features dance/acrobatic/physical theatre scenes.

Then Matt Olin and Tim Miner (who you may know from Creative Mornings/Charlotte) were set loose with their Queen City Quiz Show — a game that will launch in 2017 and travel to Charlotte neighborhoods, challenging teams with trivia questions relating to the city’s history and current events. Winning teams will get to donate to their chosen Charlotte nonprofit.

Two pieces of cultural trivia I picked up for you: (1) $63,000 is the amount that the ASC raised during its first annual fund drive (NOT the number of mirrored pieces on the surface of the Firebird in front of the Bechtler), and (2) St. Peter’s Episcopal Church has a stained glass window designed by the studio of renowned American artist Louis Comfort Tiffany.

Matt Olin and Tim Miner
Matt Olin and Tim Miner

The trivia was fun, but it wasn’t the only focus of my night. I was busy looking around, meeting my table companions and watching the spectrum of acts. One table companion pointed out that this event is different from what you’d normally buy tickets to. Rather than opting to see one dance performance or one music performance, we got to see 12 at once.

Another observation was how many people were stopping to stare at the action from the sidewalk. It’s kind of hard to ignore people singing and dancing at top volume in the middle of a city street.

And it’s kind of hard to ignore a street filled with easily more than a hundred strangers of varying ages and ethnic backgrounds sitting and chatting with each other while passing dishes family style. And then having those same strangers all gawking at, then cheering for, the hand-standing acrobats, the transfixing Indian dances and beyond. And THEN having those same strangers kick back their chairs to go dancing in the street with each other when the African Diaspora band A Sign of the Times started up.

Charlotte needs more of this.


Photos: Katie Toussaint.


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