If there’s one thing the SCENE committee knows how to do really well, it’s craft a VIP experience for their constituents. Every event over the past few weeks was carefully planned, and then executed to a seemingly effortless degree. It’s to the point where even the organizers themselves lack any physical signs that they’ve been busting ass for hours to prepare a space for the arrival of party-goers. Hair, makeup, outfits — not only all in place, but also incomprehensibly traceless of the labor necessary to take a venue from sparse to spectacular.
As someone who day-of coordinates weddings, you have my word: pulling that off is a physics-defying feat of nature (one I, personally, have never accomplished. “Welcome to the wedding! Don't mind the sweat dripping off my head onto your gift wrap!”), and proves the high level of dedication among staff to curate a perfect party.
Scenesters try out the Lumos photo booth.
Never are the stakes higher than at the Spoleto Finale, and yesterday was no exception. SCENE knocked it out of the park, err plantation, with a party to rival even the inaugural kick-off at Memminger back in April. I imagine the Finale is the best chance for attracting future scenesters. After all, sponsored parties are private affairs, so the public never really gets to see firsthand what’s on the table if interested in purchasing membership. And despite access to what some have called Pulitzer Prize-worthy recaps in the newspaper, which offer a glimpse behind the curtain, there’s nothing quite like seeing it with your own eyes to understand the level of cool we’re dealing with here.
Firstly, SCENE fences off their own little plot of paradise, and much like the land runs of our country’s pioneers, those with a little status get a headstart. Secured thus is one of the best spots available: a giant oak-shaded grassy knoll, which hugs the entrance to the lovely Middleton Place gardens, and lies within decent proximity to the Port-a-Potties (though not close enough to risk offense). Even though yesterday wasn’t a total scorcher, it still felt like air conditioning beneath the canopy of trees compared to the open expanse of field beyond our sanctuary.
Next, no need to lug coolers or chairs along with you when you’re in The Club. How about Lewis BBQ catering? Brisket (lean or marbled), pulled pork, slaw, pickles — the works. Thirsty? Name your poison. Charlestowne Fermentory tapped kegs of their Sungazer IPA (try it! Not bitter in the least!) and Ralf; Underwood, an Oregon-based winery served CANS of rosé along with pinot noirs and gris (half a bottle of wine per can, imbiber beware); and old standby Cathead Vodka held court with their inventive “V for Verdita” cocktail. Teddy Nixon of Bar Mash mixed the Cathead with chile liquor, lime, cucumber, pineapple, and mint. It tasted identical to the candy the Mexican students at my boarding school used to receive in their care packages from home. Sweet eighth grade nostalgia.
In addition to refreshments, Christina Lor of interactive photobooth “Lumos” — which uses a little halo of the world’s most flattering light to frame photos — indulged a steady stream of selfie-takers, while somewhere off to the side, a casual game of bocce ball helped pass the time until nightfall. Get the picture?
Any passerby could glimpse upon our gathering, but only those with names on the clip-boarded lists could enter. I did manage to ferret out some brisket to our friends from Compagnie XY (remember them?), but there’s really no reason to leave the comfy confines of the SCENE compound until the headliner takes the stage.
The evening ended in the usual way: you know, brilliant fireworks accompanied by The Revivalists’ cover of “Hey Jude,” and ending, sweet and strangely enough, to George Michael’s “Faith.” I think it’s fair to say that Mr. Michaels would appreciate that in the dark, scenesters are indistinguishable from mere mortals, and that artificial explosions of light summon the inner child in all of us.