Hot Dates: Stories of Cuba, chocolate, ACC tickets and Fleetwood Mac

John McVie, left, Lindsey Buckingham and Stevie Nicks from the band Fleetwood Mac perform on NBC's "Today" show in October  2014.
John McVie, left, Lindsey Buckingham and Stevie Nicks from the band Fleetwood Mac perform on NBC's "Today" show in October 2014. INVISION/AP

Tuesday: A primer on Cuba: 6-7:30 p.m. Harvey B. Gantt Center for African-American Arts + Culture. They landed in Havana two days after President Barack Obama restored diplomatic relations with Cuba .

The 18 Charlotteans didn’t come to see the old American-made Fords, Studebakers, Buicks and Chevys hum through the capital city, or check out Ernest Hemingway’s home and favorite bar, El Foridita.

They came to be with and interact with the people of this island nation 90 miles from the southern tip of Florida. The trip was hosted by the Gantt Center and Cross Cultural Journeys Foundation. They explored Cuban music and contemporary art and the island’s Afro-Cuban culture.

Tuesday, they’ll share what they found “verbally and visually” during an informal discussion at the Gantt Center, said David Taylor, the center’s CEO who joined the group on the five-day trip in December.

“Our goal was to connect with the people there,” Taylor said. “It was a people-to-people experience. Here’s a country that’s 90 miles from our border and the reality was that they were no different from us.

“I thought maybe there’d be a little militaristic environment. It was none of that.”

Taylor marveled at the architecture, though it was deteriorating under the government run by Fidel Castro and now his brother Raúl.

“The buildings were beautiful,” he said. “But it was clear the government didn’t have the money to put back into the infrastructure. There is so much history, but the beauty is crumbling away.”

And the classic American cars? “They were old, but a lot of them were show cars,” Taylor said. “They had them fixed up and maintained – they could line them up and have a car show.”

The group will share photos, videos and discuss their trip in an informal conversation led by WBTV reporter and documentary filmmaker Steve Crump.

RSVP required. Click here.

Sleeper of the week: Chocolate, the favorite early American drink. Tuesday: Larry Mellichamp, the UNC Charlotte botanist and director emeritus of the school’s popular botanical gardens, will talk about cacao – its history, where it grows, how it’s harvested and fermented, then dried and turned into chocolate. Colonial Americans loved it as a drink, flavored first with cinnamon and cayenne, then with a little sugar.

Program hosted by the Mecklenburg Historical Association Docents in the fellowship hall at Sugaw Creek Presbyterian Church, 101 W. Sugar Creek Road. Program begins at 11 a.m. Contact: click here.

Basketball tournament ticket tips: March is here, so the Madness is soon to begin. That means the ACC men’s basketball tournament at the Greensboro Coliseum starts a week from Tuesday and runs through March 14.

The sooner you lock down tickets, the cheaper they’ll be. There are reasonably priced tickets for Tuesday and Wednesday games since the tournament starts earlier in the week than ever. For example, Stubhub.com’s cheapest tickets for the night games on March 11 are $13 as of last Wednesday; by March 14 for the championship game, they’re $110. The most expensive for the final game: $2,625 – but that’s nearly two weeks from the start.

A few ticket services: For Vividseats.com click here. For Stubhub, here. And for PrimeSport, here.

Early NCAAs here: Charlotte is also a host for the second and third rounds of the NCAA men’s tournament March 20-22. So while you’re searching for ACC tickets, you might pony up the plastic for the games at Time Warner Cable Arena, too. The earlier, the cheaper.

Opening Friday at a theater near you: “Chappie,” a socially conscious comedy by director Neill Blomkamp (“District 9”) about a police android in the near future who is given new programming and taught to think for himself. Hugh Jackman and Sharlto Copley star.

“Chappie” trailer:

Also opening: “The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel,” the sequel to the surprise hit comedy/drama about elderly British expatriates living in India. A single vacancy opens at the hotel, and Richard Gere and Tamsin Greig compete for it.

Saturday: Fleetwood Mac, Time Warner Cable Arena – 8 p.m.

They are one of rock’s most enduring and beloved bands, anchored again by its classic lineup of Mick Fleetwood and John McVie (they started the group in 1967), and McVie’s ex-wife Christine McVie (rejoining the band after nearly 15 years), Lindsey Buckingham and Stevie Nicks (a rock icon). The last three joined in the 1970s, when the band recorded many of its most memorable hits including “Landslide,” “Don’t Stop” and “You Make Loving Fun.”

Saturday’s concert resumes a world tour the band started last year called: “On With the Show.” For tickets, try Time Warner arena here, Stubhub here, or ticketmaster here.

A little sizzle: “Dancing with the Stars of Charlotte,” pairing Charlotte celebrities with professional dancers of the Charlotte Ballet. The local celebs include: Bank of America executive Cathy Bessant; Charlotte lawyer Dianne Chipps Bailey and Dr. Derek Raghavan, president of the Levine Cancer Institute. The event is a fundraiser for the ballet and a charity chosen by each celebrity. Details and tickets, click here.

Opening: “Halston and Warhol: Silver and Suede,” Mint Museum Uptown: Celebrates the intersection of the fashion genius of Roy Halston Frowick, known globally as Halston (he designed Jackie Kennedy’s pillbox hat), and pop artist icon Andy Warhol. The show integrates Halston’s creations – including dresses, hats, accessories and his signature Ultrasuede shirtdress – with Warhol’s photography, videos and paintings. The exhibit closes June 14.

On Sunday, Lesley Frowick, Halston’s niece and the exhibit’s co-curator, will share stories about her late uncle and sign copies of her book. The lecture starts at 3 p.m. and is included in the exhibit admission.

For more information about tickets, the exhibit and events around it, click here.

Perlmutt: 704-358-5061

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