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.
Beginning as a single restaurant in Indian Trail, Bonfire Bar & Grill has since expanded to a second location in Concord thanks to its palate-popular fare, ranging from expertly grilled burgers and steaks to Old World favorites such as pastas and pizza. Every Sunday during football season, patrons gather amid the glow of flat-screen TVs to watch grown men resolve their differences on the gridiron and to feast on crispy fish ‘n’ chips, blackened-fish tacos, or barbecue-smothered pork ribs fresh off the grill. On Wednesday nights, half-price bottles of wine supply amateur singers the liquid courage to storm the bar’s stage and belt out karaoke songs. Situated next to the Sun Valley 14 movie theater, the Indian Trail location offers dinner-and-movie packages and deals, such as 10% off food with every movie stub, or 100% off food for every Oscar you've won.
Many dance companies approach ballet from a modern angle. Caroline Calouche prefers a more perpendicular one. When the stage is not enough space for her visions of macabre masquerade balls or surreal dreamscapes, she takes to the air above it, outfitted with a cirque's worth of aerial harnesses and accouterments. Her dancers are just as likely to pirouette down a 20-foot skein of golden silk as across a hardwood floor. Pairs of lovers might hang precariously from the frame of a hollow cube or perform a gravity-defying pas de deux on the double lyra—their suspension above the earth either an expression of freedom or a prison of their own making. Like identifying an elderly smoker's gender over the phone, the airborne element leaves plenty of room for interpretation.
By marrying the storytelling ability of floor-bound choreography with the gravity-defying tricks of circus arts, Caroline Calouche & Co. unleashes the full potential of aerial dance. The company's productions are free to venture to strange new places. For example, in past shows, women have risen from their graves to haunt their murderous husbands. Likewise, the sounds of Moby and Blue Man Group are more likely to be heard than Debussy.
Audience members who want to plqy the ropes and silks for themselves can learn to do so during the dance company's aerial-dance classes, along with a tight curriculum of ballet, contemporary, and stretching and strengthening courses. For all its global influences and aerial showmanship, Caroline Calouche & Co. keeps its feet rooted in the local community with outreach programs for all ages, ethnicities, and social groups.
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.
Global Restaurant's Chef Bernard grew up along the sun-soaked shores of the southern French village of Nice, where his grandfather was a pastry chef and his father owned a fish shop. This rich familial and Francophilic culinary heritage inspired him to take chef apprenticeships in Paris, the United Kingdom, Russia, and upon globe-roving cruise ships. His travels infused an eclectic edge into his cooking, which still incorporates traditional meals, fusion concepts, and a French spirit. His journeys also yielded him more than recipes — during one of his cruises, he met his wife, Shannon, whose experience with the front end of the food-and-beverage industry led the pair to open their own restaurant in Charlotte.
Inside the duo's creation, Global Restaurant, electric blues and oranges brighten the space, and crisp tablecloths lay a canvas for dishes with inventive flavors and artistic presentations. Chef Bernard's specialties include cauliflower-goat-cheese sauce, boldly splashed across a seared sea bass, and date chutney and caramelized apples that dance across an all-natural duck.
The menu, which is in many ways a travelogue of Bernard and Shannon's journeys, has snagged the attention of the Charlotte Observer and of WCNC's Charlotte Today, which invited Bernard on air for a live cooking demo, where he seared some of his famous diver scallops atop the weatherman's greenscreen.
As Tommy, one of Howl at the Moon’s piano players, explains on the club’s website, “Every night…we try and throw a party, regardless of whether it’s a Tuesday night or a Saturday night.” The bar’s trademark dueling pianos serve as the epicenter of these nightly celebrations; patrons submit their favorite songs on slips of paper for the pianists and backing musicians to recreate. If the website’s playlist is any indication, the bands can handle popular songs from all genres and eras, from Bon Jovi’s “Livin’ on a Prayer” to Kanye West’s “All of the Lights.” The performances are spirited: colorful lights splash upon a stage where servers, guests, and chairs that have somehow developed mobility all dance along to the music.
Fueling the celebration is the bar’s indulgent selection of drinks. Servers stand over patrons to plunge jello injectors into their mouths, and revelers grab colorful straws to help drain 86-ounce booze buckets filled with sangria or other fruity libations. Pomegranate liqueur and honey-infused whiskey sweeten specialty cocktails, and local beers add depth to coolers stocked with Stella Artois and Dos Equis.