Have you wondered what people were doing for fun in Charlotte’s nightlife 10 years ago?
In November 2008 Paid to Party columnist Sarah Aarthun at the Observer wrote that she had just “survived the nonstop week of parties during the CIAA Tournament, learned that [she] shouldn’t participate in bar crawls that start before dark and managed to keep up (barely) with additions to the city’s nightlife scene.”
As found in the Observer archives, here were her favorite new places to party:
(1) The EpiCentre
Aarthun’s take in 2008: “The massive entertainment complex uptown quickly became a hot spot this year with the opening of its first drinking establishment, Whisky River. Having Dale Jr. as a partner doesn’t hurt either. Suite, Howl at the Moon and BlackFinn Saloon opened soon after, and the lines started forming around the block. Uptown needed more nightlife options and the EpiCentre’s venues helped shake things up a bit. Next up open: Strike City, an upscale bowling alley/sports bar/club.”
My take, in 2018: I can’t say I hang out at the EpiCentre much, and in fact avoid it when possible because it feels like some weird party plaza. But it’s interesting to note that all of these places that were hot and new 10 years ago still exist.
If I must go, I’ve found that BlackFinn is a good spot for a post-work drink, particularly in the context of a speed-dating charity event that you happen to be hosting. The newer Vida Cantina has a delightful House Salad with jicama, roasted corn and black beans, and chips and salsa are served free with your meal, as they should be. And if your friend is having a bachelorette weekend in Charlotte, the EpiCentre, while not all the rage, is a convenient spot TO rage. From shots at Whisky River, to dancing at Bubble, to more dancing at Rooftop 210 — if you need a place to go crazy one night, the EpiCentre is it.
(2) The Thirsty Beaver Saloon
Aarthun’s take in 2008: “I’ll admit I had doubts that this dive bar in a concrete slab of a building would succeed. Maybe it was the bars on the window? But a year later, the Beaver is going strong, thanks to its laid-back atmosphere, cheap drinks and welcoming owners, brothers Brian and Mark Wilson. Take a seat at the bar, and I promise you’ll make one new friend.”
My take, in 2018: This dive bar just so happens to be on my bucket list of Places in Charlotte I Need to Try That I Can’t Believe I Haven’t Tried Yet. I always hear that the laid-back atmosphere, cheap drinks (read: PBR) and friendly ownership continue to ring true. And even if you are like me and tend to gravitate toward Bistro La Bon’s wine and Zada Jane’s Bloody Marys when you’re in Plaza Midwood, it’s hard not to revere the way the Beav has fought back against development, refusing to leave.
(3) The Garden & Gun Club at N.C. Music Factory
Aarthun’s take in 2008: “Eleven years in the making, the N.C. Music Factory took a big step forward this summer with the opening of G&G, a massive house music club tucked away in Fourth Ward. The club is notable in that its focus is just on the music – a rare find, especially Uptown. You won’t hear any Lil’ Wayne or Britney Spears remixes here. Keep an eye on the Music Factory in 2009. If all goes to plan, we’ll have another entertainment complex Uptown with a music venue that seats thousands.”
My take, in 2018: Bummer that we missed out on The G&G. Apparently it didn’t keep its name for too long either, since Creative Loafing reported in 2009 that “some lawn jockey magazine in Charleston called the Garden and Gun threw a hissy fit about the Garden and Gun Club sharing its name.” It was renamed “Halo.”
Halo didn’t make it either. OR the name “N.C. Music Factory.” These days, I’m a huge fan of AvidXchange Music Factory offerings — from low-key drinks overlooking the volleyball courts at VBGB, to amazing (and affordable) concerts at The Fillmore and Charlotte Metro Credit Union Amphitheatre, to beer festivals at The Underground. There’s so much to do in one spot — and parking is free.
I’d say 2018 is shaping up nicely.
Photos: CharlotteFive, Charlotte Observer files, Jeff Siner