The Unchained tour bus rolled into Charleston on Friday night and beaconed all the buy-local lovers, bookstore aficionados, and graphic novel geeks to come out to the Charleston Music Hall for an evening of sharing and storytelling. This leg of the Heart-Shaped Tour featured several raconteurs, including the big draw for the evening, Neil Gaiman. We were tickled to see local musicians Rachel Kate and Joel T. Hamilton join the stage, as well as surprise appearances by Cary Ann Hearst and Sarah Bandy. If you ever wanted to see a live version of This American Life, this was the show for you.
The tour celebrated local bookstores, so it was fitting that the after-party for the performance took place at Blue Bicycle Books on King Street. The audience for Unchained was packed with more black T-shirts and funky body odor than the line for the iPhone 5 that day, so we weren't sure of what to expect from the after-party. Blue Bicycle was filled with writers, literature lovers, and a few enthusiastic Doctor Who fans (Gaiman penned an episode for the BBC series). The crowd was dispersed throughout the shop, browsing for additions for their shelves, while waiting for members of the performance to make an appearance. We spent a bit of time chatting with guests as to why audience members were carrying sonic screwdrivers (again, Doctor Who). After a glass of wine and a few sweet snacks, we checked our watches and it was nearly midnight. We didn't wait around much longer to see if Gaiman would make an appearance, but we did make a trip to the tour bus to make sure he wasn't hiding out there. He wasn't, but fans were encouraged to hop aboard and look around.
We missed another celebrity sighting at Saturday evening's Party for the Parks — Bill Murray was rumored to have shown up after we exited. The event was hosted by Charleston Parks Conservancy and celebrated all the wonderful squares and green spaces in town. The silent and live auctions also helped in raising funds for the organization. Our favorite item up for bid was the chocolate cake and personal training from Premiere Fitness.
The party was located on a block of Ashley Avenue in front of the picturesque Colonial Lake. The Dub Plates were in full swing when we arrived, and while no one was on the dance floor yet, we saw a few toes tapping. The first order of business was to check out the featured drink of the evening, the famous lavender martini from Cypress. While in line, we chatted with Tom Bradford of Charleston Moves and realtor Kristen Walker, both big advocates for biking in Charleston. We suppose when you advocate cycling, it's only natural you'd be a champion for parks. After grabbing a libation, we maneuvered under the aerialist performing by the lake to check out the food offerings lining the street. Oak Steakhouse offered up the now ubiquitous bánh mì and La Fourchette was serving up crispy duck fat-fried frites. Speaking with some veterans of the event, we were promised it would get a "little wild" later. We hoped that meant someone would go for a swim in the lake, but everyone managed to stay dry and instead took to dancing in the street.