Eric Lavender is one of very few men in the world who can show up for work each day in a pirate costume and expect to keep his job. The licensed guide and professional storyteller, who has been featured on networks such as the Travel Channel and SCETV, also has an unconventional coworker—Captain Bob, a chatty blue and gold macaw who perches on his arm. Sometimes aided by other guides in pirate and colonial garb, he introduces visitors to lesser-known aspects of Charleston's more than 300-year history on walking tours to National Historic Landmark buildings.
During his signature pirate tour, Eric divulges stories of buccaneer revelry and crimes, such as Blackbeard's harbor blockade, or unveils local spooky legends and pieces of Gullah lore on his ghost and pirate tour. Eric also leads custom walking tours and teaches children about pirate lore and city history through his educational programs. And, on pub tours, guides show visitors to some of the city's historic taverns, where they reveal which colonial musicians got their start at open-mic nights.
The consortium of professional instructors at Fred Astaire Dance Studios, which was cofounded by the legendary toe tapper himself, shepherds students of all ages and skill levels through lessons that span the style spectrum. Low-pressure private sessions allow enthusiastic teachers to fine-tune individual students' techniques and form, using their expert eyes and mechanical dancing shoes preprogrammed to do the Charleston. Patrons can learn how to cavort through classic waltz and fox-trot romps or swivel through the modern steps of salsa, swing, or cha-cha. For dancers hoping to hoof it up in a social setting, the group practice parties provide a one-night extravaganza of instruction, demonstrations, and amateur firewalking.
It started small: in 1931, Lieutenant Commander Charles Russell Price directed a series of one-act plays at the Charleston Navy Yard. The series was an unexpected success, and a year later, his band of amateur theater-makers had evolved into an
With the biggest payouts in Low County that sometimes reach up to $4,000, everybody wins at Big Money Bingo. Even if they don’t actually win prizes, players are still investing in the community. After a trip to Tanzania, co-founder Erica Oblinger started an education scholarship foundation for Tanzanian children. But upon returning home and seeing the condition of underprivileged local schools while working as a student teacher, Erica and her sister and mother devised Big Money Bingo to bolster local education—proceeds aid underfunded Charleston and Berkeley County schools—as well as providing the town with friendly entertainment. In exciting games Thursday¬–Monday, players prep their markers in hopes of shouting the five-letter word of victory while enjoying a full menu of comforting concessions.
At Loggerhead’s Beach Grill, merrymakers gaze out at the Atlantic Ocean while forking into broiled, fried, and steamed seafood. A wooden deck blooming with yellow-and-white umbrellas sets the stage for local shrimp, flounder, and crab to gossip about Poseidon’s sloppy backstroke, and the indoor bar’s palm-frond awning and colorful lights maintain a beachside atmosphere even while landlubbers bite into terra-based half-pound burgers. Flat-screen televisions glow as live reggae or acoustic jams bombard lucky cochleae, inspiring stuffed patrons to lean back, unbutton their top bellybutton, and admire colorful signs hanging from the eatery's peaked ceiling.