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No stadium show? Charlotte got its party on, anyway

CHARLOTTE, N.C.

Thursday night parties around Charlotte:

Overheard in Uptown:

The streets themselves had a festive feel Thursday night. On College Street, a jazz saxophone player set up in front of BLT Steak while further down the block, crowds gathered on the corner and stairs to watch the big screens in front of CNN Grill. Among a group walking toward the EpiCenter: “I’m not going to party,” said one man, who was cut off by his friend: “I know, I know. You’re going to get democratic.” Inside the convention center, a man opened the box he’d just purchased in the food court and to those passing by: “Welcome to North Carolina, want a Krispy Kreme donut?”

Heartbeat of a Movement Party, Blue Restaurant

Hosted by UPTOWN Magazine, this gathering celebrated up-and-coming young Democrats. Around 9:30 p.m. most attendees were gathered around the TV in the mosaic-tiled bar. Servers wearing all black (one with a calla lily entwined in her up-do) were circulating with trays of small bites, like white bean puree with truffle oil, parmesan and micro-arugula. And while the venue was dimly lit, there was a celebratory air among patrons. Restaurant owner Alex Myrick said over the course of the night, they expected about 500 guests total. “To cut to the chase, I love it,” he said of the DNC crowd. “It’s been fantastic.”

Carolina Speakeasy Party, Amos’ South End

This was definitely a watch party with a pretty sweet set-up. Half the floor was dedicated to high-top pub tables and chairs and all was lit with blue and red lighting. The sound system was ready for The Squirrel Nut Zippers to go on after the DNC adjourned, but there was an anticipatory air among party-goers as Vice President Joe Biden finished his speech. Lorrilard and Blu hosted the party to support The International Civil Rights Center and Museum, and hanging between the flat screens were enlarged photos from the civil rights movement era.

Attendee Brenda Rehn spent the week volunteering at events for young Democrats and the Mecklenburg County Democratic Party, among other organizations, and said the party was a chance to relax and celebrate. “Last night I enjoyed Bill Clinton’s speech, he hit a homerun,” she said. When President Obama took the podium the venue erupted into applause, cheers and chants of “Four more years!” But as soon as he began to speak, it became nearly silent. VIPs upstairs lined the railings, drinks in hand, transfixed on the TVs. At points during the President’s speech there was spontaneous applause and emphatic shouts of affirmation. Even members of the band —nattily dressed and several with straw boater hats — applauded and nodded at times.

Victory Lane Post-Gavel Celebration, NASCAR Hall of Fame

For almost an hour following the close of the DNC, a steady stream of people funneled into this closed-to-the-media party. Vice President Joe Biden was slated as the special guest, and at one point, the line to get in was backed up onto the plaza as guests waited to clear the metal detectors and security. I wasn’t the only one on the hunt for a spare ticket, as it was rumored President Obama could make an appearance as well. There was more than a stir of excitement when a two-car, four-SUV motorcade drove onto the plaza, almost to the doors. “Is it Biden? Surely they wouldn’t bring Obama in the front?” The vehicle drivers, clearly secret service, got out first and looked around. But I’m sad to report it was several unknown, but undoubtedly important, dignitaries and their families that went into the party.

Yet even still the people kept coming: carrying signs and flags and wearing huge smiles. (Of course they were, they had tickets to get in.) One woman — wearing a great blue, sleeveless sheath dress— walked up in a pair of running shoes, ready to party till 2 a.m. Another woman gets a nod for most-creative head décor, wearing a blue and white, light-up, Trojan-esque mohawk with Obama’s name running down the side.

It was after 12:30 a.m. when the throng of those going in finally thinned out. I never got a ticket, but an inside source reported this was no cheese-and-crackers kind of affair. The food was more along the lines of blackened mahi mahi, fish tacos, barbecue pork and chicken, mini-brats, carved beef tenderloin and mini bags of popcorn. The live band was covering Black Crows and James Brown and the crowd was drinking out of wine glasses with glowing stems.

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