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Charlotte parties welcome delegates, visitors

CHARLOTTE, N.C. The Sunday night party scene in Uptown Charlotte:

Unity Through Community party at the North Carolina Dance Theatre

This LGBT welcome event and convention-week kickoff was for delegates, visitors and Charlotte residents, regardless of sexual orientation. The main lobby and first floor was general admission and DJs kept the energy high, mashing dance songs like Whitney Houston’s “I Wanna Dance With Somebody” together with Katy Perry’s “Last Friday Night.”

Those with VIP tickets had access to the second floor and two dance studios donned a lounge feel, each with several bars and tons of votive candles.

JR Joaquin, member of the event outreach committee, said “Not everyone likes a dance party,” noting one of the dance studios was made to feel like a makeshift jazz bar with plenty of ambient lighting, while the other had more of a theatric feel. The Gay Men’s Chorus performed and Charlotte’s Pride Woodwind Quintet played show tunes like “Singin’ in the Rain” and “The Trolley Song” from “Meet Me in St. Louis”.

Joaquin said the opportunity to relax in a lounge-type setting was important since the party was slated to run at least till 2 a.m. Monday.

The main ballroom opened around 9 p.m. and a variety of performers took the main stage before Charlotte Mayor Anthony Foxx fired up the crowd with a 10 p.m. appearance and brief speech.

“Charlotte is going to show you all the hospitality we have to offer,” Foxx said. “But after (the convention and the parties) are over, our purpose is to tell people around the country we’ve got to move forward.”

“Our president understands our country is stronger when we value every person.”

Joaquin said after the cost of the party, all proceeds raised would be split between the LGBT Community Center of Charlotte and another local LGBT nonprofit.

“You Can’t Get Into This Party” Capital Grille

This party got its start at Boston’s 2004 DNC and repeated in Denver four years ago. The Charlotte event is its third incarnation. The dimly lit bar and patio of Capital Grille had the atmosphere of old friends catching up, which lobbyist Bryan Tackett said the event strives for. “It’s a chance to reconnect for a lot of people, there are some business dealings before the hectic convention,” he said of the gathering of Washington insiders.

Tackett said the guest list had about 375 RSVPs – and is made to spoof the uber-exclusivity and credential requirements of conventions – so it seemed fitting when guests asked if they could get their roommates in. (And did.)

Every flat service held baskets of french fries, homemade potato chips and M&Ms in Carolina Panthers blue, gray, white and black. According to restaurant staff, after a busy dinner service that supposedly included Dave Navarro of Jane’s Addiction fame, working the open-bar event was about as torturous as “growing up next to a bakery when you’ve got a gluten allergy,” said one unnamed employee.

The best quote of the evening was heard from two different women in less than 10 minutes. “Make us look thin and gorgeous/hot,” was their request of event photographers.

The party was hosted by Patrick Murphy of 3 Click Solutions, David Culver from DISCUS, Elizabeth Wise from DIAGEO and Wyeth Wiedeman of BBG.

Trenda: 704-358-5089; Twitter: @htrenda
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