Melanie LaJoie’s dance career began almost three decades ago and has since taken her to Morocco, Egypt, and Russia, where she developed her expertise in an impressive number of ethnic dance traditions. Today, she directs the instructors at A Magi Temple Belly Dance and choreographs and performs pieces at local sites such as Universal Studios, Walt Disney World, and the House of Blues. Her students, who can include ladies age 10 and up, learn everything from warm-up exercises to routines in Bollywood, belly-dancing, and flamenco classes scheduled five days per week.
At Wingit, soft lights cast their warm glow over plates of classic American fare as diners direct their fist pumps and fight songs toward flat-screen TVs hanging on the wood-trimmed walls of the eatery. Wingit’s chefs douse their lip-smacking wings in a spectrum of sauces that range from sweet to spicy, and assemble a hearty collection of succulent half-pound burgers, flatbread pizzas, sandwiches, and fresh salads. Weekly events, such as karaoke nights and all-night forehead wrestling, give the sports-centric Wingit its communal, neighborhood feel, and live DJs transform the joint into a lively and energetic hang-out.
At Olv Café, groups gather to collectively explore a sharable menu items of small plates, platters, salads, and flatbreads. Start with tempura asparagus and artichokes with sweet-chili sauce ($6.50) or the barbecue-chicken flatbread ($7.50), which mimics the earth’s 15th-century shape with a perfectly level plane of barbecue sauce, cilantro, marinated onions, and monterey jack propping up a tower of pulled chicken.
The menu at Doc’s Streetside Grille may be only two pages, but it includes a diverse selection of dishes that showcase ingredients from a variety of cuisines. Guests can soak up the pub atmosphere with beer chili served in a bowl or on cheese fries, or keep it light with an almond-crusted goat-cheese salad with fresh spinach and strawberries. A bit of Mexican flair is introduced in dishes such as seasoned mahi-mahi tacos and a taco pizza with black beans, beef, and olives. Apple barbecue sauce sweetens a half-pound burger with bacon, and for after dinner but before 10 p.m. Scrabble, serious sweet tooths can share baked brie for two, which is slathered with raspberry marmalade.
Though the menu appeals to diverse palates, Doc’s seeks to bring people together. The restaurant fosters a community of sports fans by broadcasting regular games on TV, and encourages regular visits with events such as live music and trivia.
It's easy to both start and end a night at Blue Martini. During the early hours of the evening, guests can catch the last rays of sun on the patio as they dine on light fare such as fruit-and-cheese plates and flatbread pizzas. This lightness is necessary, because once the sun goes down, guests have to be light on their feet as the lounge turns into a full-on dance party. From then until closing time, guests can keep their energy up with glasses of wine or one of the house's 42 signature cocktails. The bartenders shake, stir, and blend together ingredients to make these drinks, which range from skinny-raspberry mojitos that contain less than 250 calories to the lightly flavored key-lime-pie martini or cucumber lemonade.
RedCarpetMonday’s idea-inspiring atmosphere lures successful professionals, entrepreneurs, and business owners from the Orlando area to one location, creating the perfect recipe for mingling and social networking. During each invitation-only event, attendees snack on complimentary appetizers and sip two complimentary select drinks while they discuss business ideas, mingle with other like-minded professionals, and enjoy raffles and special entertainment. Though past power galas have featured prominent keynote speakers, local politicians, and arm-wrestling tournaments between Florida’s ex-governors, the guests of honor for upcoming soirees are always kept confidential until they ceremonially jump out of top-hat-shaped cakes at midnight before the event. Although jean jackets and parachute pants are comfortable during hot months, professional attire is required.