Chucktown on the Cheap 

College kid`s guide to getting cultured

Life as a pauper can be hard in Charleston. Just take a walk down King Street with its high-dollar boutiques and restaurants, and you might start to feel like a kid with your grubby hands pressed up to the windows, not allowed in because you might break something. But take heart: It doesn't have to be this way. You may not be able to live S.O.B. ("South of Broad"), but that doesn't mean you have to act like one by staying holed up in your room drinking Beast all day. Get out there and be somebody.

A Night at the Theatah

It's easy to discount the theatre as an entertainment option, thinking that it's out of your price range. This is a sad mistake. Charleston is home to a number of top-notch theatre companies, and most of them offer specials for students, recognizing the importance of catering to budding writers and performers. Most theatres offer student rush discounts, available at the box office a few minutes before curtain.

Charleston Stage Co. has one of the best deals: If you hit up the box office an hour before the show, you can get a ticket for just six bucks. You'll be a bit more rushed at Footlight Theatre, but you can get tickets for $10 if you show up 15 minutes before the play starts — that's $5 less than normal student tickets. If you're not afraid to get your hands dirty, you can volunteer as a set builder, poster distributor, or help out at the box office and get in for free. PURE Theatre offers "Pay What You Can" nights on the Thursday before their shows' opening nights, and also on the Wednesday of the final week. Quarter rolls accepted. They also have rush tickets for $10 at curtain, but it's not uncommon for PURE shows to sell out. With deals like these, it's cheaper to see a play than to go to the movies — a lot cheaper.

At the Drive-in

If the theatre can't quench your thirst for a good ol' fashioned movie night, there are a few options in town that won't leave you without grocery money for the week. You can catch the not-so-latest flick for free at Movies in the Park, sponsored by City Paper.

Starting back up in the spring, you can set up camp in Marion Square, kick back, and watch classics on the big projection screen. Splurge on fresh kettle corn, pizza, barbecue, or a cold drink at one of the vendors lining the square. If you feel like staying in and making it a Blockbuster night, head to the library instead, where you can check out a good selection of old and newer movies for free.

Classy-cal Music

Most students would rather go see any lousy bar act over the symphony, but we dare you to go to a Charleston Symphony Orchestra concert and not walk out feeling relaxed, cheerful, and more cultured. Plus, students can get any seat in the house for $5 — up to $40 less than regular ticket prices. And you know they say listening to Mozart makes you smarter.

Be a Good Sport

Watching the game on your fuzzy TV (or stolen cable) is all well and good, but there's nothing better than actually being at the game, even if it's not a major league team. A Yankees farm team, the RiverDogs' games are perfect because they're cheap (tickets start at $4), conveniently located downtown on the Ashley River, and the perfectly-sized stadium (called "The Joe" for short) always makes for a fun, friendly atmosphere, not to mention there are no crappy seats. The food and beer are surprisingly affordable. Tuesday games offer two-for-one specials on ticket price. Thirsty Thursday offers $1 beers in the Ashley View Pub.

Charleston's pro A-league soccer team, the Battery, is another good bet if you don't mind shelling out a few extra bucks (tickets start at $8). Blackbaud Stadium on Daniel Island isn't as close as the Joe, nor as intimate, but it happens to be one of the best soccer venues in the country, which definitely makes it worth checking out. When the days start getting cooler, S.C.'s ice hockey team, the Stingrays, start heating up. Tickets start at $11.75 at the N. Charleston Coliseum.

Artsy Fartsy

One of the most fun ways to get a feel for the city's art world is by taking an art walk. These free events, sponsored by the French Quarter Gallery Association, take place four times a year — the next one's Oct. 5. The walks take you through more than 30 galleries featuring diverse styles and mediums, from contemporary to traditional. And did we mention the wine and cheese? Drop in on the galleries in the French Quarter (usually at no charge) that strike your fancy. This allows you to take your time, talk one-on-one with the gallery owners, and avoid claustrophobia if you're not into wine-fueled crowds. Head to Redux Contemporary Art Center on St. Philip Street if you like cutting-edge art. This nonprofit gallery caters to the young and hip, and often features live music. Vickery's on Beaufain Street hosts monthly shows featuring up-and-coming artists. If you're going for a larger, more established venue, Gibbes Museum of Art has student tickets for $7 ($2 off regular price). Featuring mainly American art, the museum recently showed an exhibit on French Sculptor Auguste Rodin ("The Thinker" — hello Art History 101?). Gibbes also hosts quarterly free community days, so mark your calendar.

Funny Ha Ha?

Theatre 99 is Charleston's major comedy venue, with improv shows going on all throughout the week. Starting Aug. 15 through the end of September, tickets for their Wednesday and Friday shows are buy one, get one free for students with a valid ID. Tickets are generally $5 on Wednesday nights (a deal in itself) and $10 on Friday nights. That's a fun night out for a mere $2.50. The theatre also sells beer and wine, so it's easy to make a night of it.

Trivial Pursuit

Put all that useless knowledge to the test playing trivia. Live trivia is a big deal in this town with a game going on nearly every night. Gather a team of fellow smarty-pants and head over to whatever bar is hosting a trivia night. It's free to play, and the winning team typically gets $50 in house cash (meaning your bar tab disappears). Second and third place get house cash prizes as well. King Street Grille is popular for its lively host, Wild Wing Café is unique for its series of three fast-paced games, and Kickin' Chicken hosts trivia at all four of their locations. Play around, find the spot that suits you, and get your smart on. You'll find yourself patting yourself on the back for actually studying for that Western Civ exam.

Life as a pauper can be hard in Charleston. Just take a walk down King Street with its high-dollar boutiques and restaurants, and you might start to feel like a kid with your grubby hands pressed up to the windows, not allowed in because you might break something. But take heart: It doesn't have to be this way. You may not be able to live S.O.B. ("South of Broad"), but that doesn't mean you have to act like one by staying holed up in your room drinking Beast all day. Get out there and be somebody.


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