Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Rain and floods couldn't stop Spoleto scenesters from schmoozing with French performers and downing Veuve Clicquot

Dial French for fun

Posted by Caroline Enten on Wed, Jun 7, 2017 at 10:52 AM

Guests enjoyed local brews and bites at last night's SCENE party. - CAROLINE ENTEN
  • Caroline Enten
  • Guests enjoyed local brews and bites at last night's SCENE party.
There’s nothing quite like a shared hardship to really bond a group of people together. A sense of camaraderie blossoms when we feel like we’re all in it together, battling as one force has caused us to sharpen our survival skills, dig in our heels and declare, “Not tonight, Universe!”

Last night, that force arrived grâce à Mother Nature in the form of a torrential, late-spring, good ole fashioned Charleston downpour. The kind that barricades rows of streets at a time, strands King Street shoppers inside of whatever store they happen to be passing by, and fills normally busy traffic intersections with, what else — kayakers!

All the muck and mess rendered a magical effect on last night’s SCENE party at the Restoration Hotel. Pretenses were checked at the door along with umbrellas, and we all determined to have a grand time, frizzy-haired and wrinkly-shirted though we were.

It didn’t hurt that before even stepping foot onto the elevator, we were handed a speciality cocktail of fernet, violet extract, and lime topped off by a freehand pour of Dixie vodka, which packed a huge punch. Most managed a few sips, but ultimately trash bins overflowed with half-drunk cups of this decidedly sulfuric-smelling beverage.
click to enlarge Bites on bites. - CAROLINE ENTEN
  • Caroline Enten
  • Bites on bites.

Besides, there were far more enticing choices at either of the two bars, spread out between dueling hotel suites. Found behind Door No. 1: A sweeping, two-story room, brightly lit and bustling with guests. The Lowhills, a Johns Island-based “Americana/roots Family Band,” showered their melodies down upon us from the second floor balcony, while bartenders from The Watch poured sparkling Veuve Clicquot Rosé, Smoke Tree wine, and select Revelry beers. An impressive spread of handheld munchables included beef sliders, tuna tartar, hushpuppies, charcuterie, and more. This is where the heft of the party occurred.

But lest we forget Door No. 2: A modest room, slightly quieter and moodily lit, cleared out save for a couch, round table adorned by trays of bite-sized dessert tarts, and DJ Party Dad spinning beats from a corner. This room beckoned to those seeking a cozy spot to have a conversation or escape the throngs. It’s also where I found David Badia, Andrés Somoza, and Evertjan Mercier, all of Compagnie XY and in whose honor, along with the rest of the troupe, the party was held.

The common language erred on the side of French (the company is based out of Lille, France) though I learned the members hailed from all over, including Spain, Belgium, Canada, Hungary, Sweden, and beyond. Fortunately, I can speak French, juste un peu, and among the dozen or so performers in attendance, everyone spoke at least a little English and at most, totally fluently.

My takeaways from chatting with as many of our guests of honor as possible: Charleston is way better than Houston, their first stop on this tour (duh); Women in this city are beautiful (nicely done, ladies — sorry dudes, no love for you); Most feel that newly-elected French President Emmanuel Macron isn’t great but is “less bad” than Le Pen; and you should never leave your phone with a bunch of eccentric strangers because they will take 100+ photos of feet, cleavage, and of each other making out.

click to enlarge Members of Compagnie XY chatted with guests. - CAROLINE ENTEN
  • Caroline Enten
  • Members of Compagnie XY chatted with guests.

Each and every person was approachable, friendly, and very happy to be mingling with cool, young locals. They openly expressed a desire to chat with more people and make new acquaintances, though understood it can be a bit intimidating for plebs like us, even hip scenesters, to cross that boundary between a member of the audience approaching a star, to a 30-something from Charleston engaging in conversation with a 30-something from Budapest.

My advice? Drink more Veuve (it’s free!) and remember: the Spoleto performers are just like us, only in this case much stronger and more bendy.

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