To properly ring in 2013, Johnson Hagood stadium was as glam as many of the fashionistas at Charleston's inaugural Rose Ball. The newly renovated Citadel building was completely lit up with lasers, huge video projections, and dotted with plush couches for kicking off heels and canoodling.
The imbibing started with small pours of champagne before we even stepped on the elevator. Attendants dropped revelers off on the fourth and fifth floors where a world of open bars and multiple dance floors opened up. The VIP area on the fifth floor boasted cool modern art on the walls curated by Art Mag, a DJ, bar, and a small spread of food which surprisingly consisted of Swedish meatballs and cubes of cheese. I tasted one meatball just to see if it was like a crazy-good Craig Deihl-type creation, but it definitely wasn't. Private party rooms lined the hall but seemed a little dead. A young woman on the elevator complained that VIP was "overrun" because the other elevator wasn't checking for stars. That didn't seem like a real problem, once we saw how much more fun the fourth floor actually was.
Stepping out into the main event, The Dubplates had the dance floor packed. The band got fans riled up asking, "Wouldn't you all just love to live in Colorado for just a minute?" to much whooping and hollering. With the heavy police and private security presence, there was no room for illegal shenanigans, as one band member acknowledged in conversation after their first set. The nine-piece band played for hours with a brief accompaniment from local YouTube sensation, violinist Seth G., and a break right at midnight, when a little electronic dance party took over for a bit.
The outside portion of the event was paradise for cigarette and EDM lovers, with an expansive view of the city and the iconic Ravenel bridge. Local fashion photog Jonathan Balliet shot portraits of couples with real guidance ("chin up and shoulder down a little...") which was an artful addition to the party. A huge tent was set up on the deck with more open bars and another DJ, and people danced with abandon in a haze of hardcore smoke.
Icebox proved yet again that they can handle the biggest and best events with grace and sophistication, creating an ideal drinking environment with their fancy cocktails and quick service. Dismaying and disconcerting as it was to see people eating plates of the same meatballs and cheese again on the fourth floor, catering company Iron Gate Events scored big points at the end of the night by handing out to-go hot chicken biscuits.