27 July 2011

That's Entertainment

Planners are an interestingly, nerdy group of people.  It really is hard to turn your mind off to planning.  For instance, I guest lecture for one architecture class and I always tell them that in there is not one thing that you do in a day that hasn't been thought about by a planner at some point in time.  How you get to school, where you find entertainment and even how you enter a building.  These are things planners always seem to think about.  Planners get charged when they find engaging public spaces; can talk about building relationships at nausea and never tire of discussing pedestrian scale, sustainability and compatible uses.  Just ask my family. 

So, it seemed fitting that the second meeting for the Charlotte Metro Young Planners would be held at the NC Music Factory and include a tour of the facility.  Jessica and Kate really took this simple idea of getting together and talking shop to a new level with our tour.  Let me confess that I believe I may not meet the definition of "young planner" as I careened into my 35th year this June, but there is not a category for "seasoned planner who is no where near retirement".

The evening began at VCGB, which is a New York style beer garden.  I believe it stands for Very Cold German Beer.  Their pilsner is one of my favorites on a hot summer day.  Again, the planner and southerner in me asks...where in the hell are the trees on that patio?  In the sultry south, we need shade or so says my dermatologist.  I'm hoping that once the heat subsides, they'll think about adding some vegetation to break up all that concrete.  One might ask why even go outside at all when there is a tray of shaved ice to keep your mug cold.  If you intend to bring Fido, you'll need a spot on the "Seven Steps from the Sun" (or otherwise known as their patio).  This building is also home to a Charlotte icon the JFG sign.
photo courtesy of NC Music Factory
Note: lack of trees
Our tour guide was Ken Thomas, the Vice President of Entertainment with the ARK Group which operates the Music Factory.  The facility has been open for a little over two years and has hosted a variety of acts thus far.--anyone from the B-52's to Counting Crows to Wiz Khalifa who was the act at the Amphitheater that night. (Again as I am a "mature" age, I had to youtube it--apparently he is being compared as the next Snoop Dog). 

After a quick beer, our tour kicked off at the new home for the Comedy Zone in Charlotte.   The Comedy Zone is located under The Saloon and I have actually been there before thanks to some tickets Nicole won over the 4th of July weekend.  It definitely adds to the types of entertainment that can be found on the property.  I got this picture of David.  Now that he has the picture, maybe he can work on his act.
Because this is located in the basement of the Saloon it is designed so that the audience has a food venue to go to before the show or a place between shows.  It also makes for good staging between acts if there are more than one show that night.

Photo just to prove that it actually was a tour
We went through the Saloon to Wet Willies. The balcony at Wet Willies is a great spot to catch what is playing at the Amphitheater and it is a lot cleaner than the one I am more familiar with--downtown Charleston.

We went through the dining area at Bask (yeah! I finally know where this is) and they are anticipating an upscale Italian place opening soon to compliment the dining options.We walked through Butter, an upscale NYC style club.  The experience starts with the front door covered in animal hide which is just the beginning of a decadent, textural overload that includes different styles of velvet wallpaper and an amazing chandelier over the dance floor.  Unfortunately, it is just very dark to take pictures.

The visual experience alone is worth the $500 per table weekend night cost and the potential people when people are actually is shear bonus. Now, all I have to do is stop working for the public sector.

To round out the tour and the complex, we went by the office section which is home to the Creative Loafing, a couple of non-profits and a lawyer's office.

Once we were back to VCGB, I returned to good, cold German beer drinking and eating tasty black and tan onion rings and limited (as much as I possibly could) any talk about pedestrian scale, traffic studies or long range plans.  But really, can they get some trees at the beer garden!