Standing before a mural of the nighttime Charlotte skyline with "The Comedy Zone" imposed over a massive moon, nationally touring comics present finely honed humor. Within the NC Music Factory's sprawling entertainment complex, The Comedy Zone keeps punch lines rolling with its regularly stuffed calendar of established and up-and-coming jokesters. From table seats, visitors can wet their whistles with a bounty of domestic and imported beers, bottles of wine, four-straw margaritas, and savory cocktails and feast upon a menu of classic pub fare. Monthly open-mic nights test rookies' mettle, and armchair comics can sign up for classes where industry professionals ramp up joke-writing skills, obliterate stage fright, and share the secret noise that makes hecklers cry.
Like a 1990s alternative-rock station come to life, the Summerland tour rattles speakers with a quintet of seminal rock bands that once grabbed hold of Generations X and Y with their chart-topping tunes. Headlining the evening, frontman Art Alexakis and his signature bleached-blond 'do lead Everclear as they evoke the Discman days in songs that have dominated the airwaves, such as “Santa Barbara” and “Father of Mine.” Heartthrob TV host Mark McGrath hops on his Sugar Ray saddle and oozes charisma while performing summertime staples “Fly” and “Every Morning,” occasionally pausing to politely pry fans from his ankles. The Gin Blossoms conjure up memories of college romances gone awry in hits such as “Hey Jealousy” and “Found Out About You,” which meld jangle-pop hooks and unabashed pangs. Rounding out the roster of late-20th-century rockers, Lit illuminates the stage with its breakthrough ditty “My Own Worst Enemy,” and Marcy Playground reacquaints ears with the hit “Sex and Candy.”
• For $44, you get two upper-balcony (balcony rows LL–WW) tickets (a $68 value before fees, or up to an $86.30 value online, including all ticketing fees). • For $60, you get two lower-balcony (mezzanine rows AA–KK) tickets (a $97 value before fees, or up to a $116.20 value online, including all ticketing fees).
Angie Acosta, founder of Queen City DanceOut, has a simple motto for her students: "If you're moving, you're doing it right." This encouraging, low-pressure attitude attracts people of all ages to her dance-inspired fitness classes, which meet at 18 public locations. Angie and her instructors aim to make exercise feel like a celebration and a refreshing break rather than a dreaded routine. To this end, their classes incorporate intuitive dance moves and invigorating music. DanceOut, the signature course, blends genres as diverse as swing, hip-hop, and reggae into a workout, relying on repetition and basic choreography to keep everyone grooving. Other highlights of the curriculum include the Latin rhythms of Zumba; the Dance Impact class, which fuses dance and kickboxing; and JamStrong, a mixture of core-conditioning, dance, and fun.
Community is a central aspect of every DanceOut class. As pupils practice their twirls, they can follow both the teacher and the Jam Crew—a team of regulars who help make the steps easy to follow and can assist fellow dancers. In addition to group workouts, instructors host skill workshops such as Booty Bootcamp, where attendees learn rump-shaking techniques and how to turn any chair into a rocking chair. They also put on performances and lead private classes for special events and parties.
At an hour when many bars and restaurants are busy closing up shop, Dream Nightclub lights up as a beacon to nocturnal wanderers from across the city. Custom-designed graffiti murals, pulsing LED lights, and energetic dance beats greet patrons as soon as they enter the after-dark dancehall and performance venue. The 5,000-square-foot club features ample lounge seating for bottle service or dramatically lit staring contests, as well as two bars and a full-service kitchen that churns out plates laden with chicken wings and french fries as late as 2:30 a.m. on most nights. A QSC sound system floods the dance floor with Latin, techno, or hip-hop tunes depending on the day, although the club also hosts occasional DJ sets and regular jazz-band performances.
Sankey's is the resident restaurant taproom and restaurant of Custom Home Pubs, which means the owners have years of experience building draft beer systems. They extend this knowledge to Sankey's with a rotating roster of 10 North Carolina beers on tap, but also accompany their drinks with a menu of hearty pub-grub. Texas caviar, crispy wings, and a host of burgers and sandwiches are served in a dining room filled with beer-themed artwork, from local labels to impressionist paintings of keg stands.