Between all the breathless teenagers clutching thumb-worn paperbacks lining the streets from YALLFest to the busy scene of Second Sunday, it was easy to forget that there was anything else happening in Charleston last week, but there was plenty going on.
Wednesday night, we went to Absolutely Charleston’s inaugural block party at High Wire Distilling Co. on Upper King. They closed the distillery off with surprisingly realistic fake shrubs and got down to business. Rum Fitzgeralds flowed freely, and Butcher & Bee’s kitchen cranked out their reliable spread of really, really good Southern-meets-Israeli-with-a-twist treats. The music was just the right volume and there were a perfect number of chairs for guests and candles for mood lighting. If the purpose of this party was to show that Absolutely Charleston can handle any and every aspect of your party-planning needs from police presence (no, seriously) to transportation, they did just that. It was lovely from start to finish.
We took Thursday night off despite a couple great invitations because, Jesus, Mary, and Joseph, did we have our work cut out for us on Friday. We started at the library for the kickoff for YALLFest. YALLFest is a young adult authors’ conference that Blue Bicycle Books sponsors, and the turnout runs the gamut from middle-school librarians to teenagers who consider John Green (The Fault in Our Stars) to be on par with The Beatles, hysterics-wise. The young adult room at the Calhoun Street library (which is super nice if you’ve never been) was packed with expressively dressed 12-year-olds, eyes wide with excitement. We were among the nerdiest of the nerdy at that age, so it filled us with joy to see these kids so turnt up about reading. Carry on, nerdlings! You have our whole hearts.
We dashed home to grab a carnival mask and an evening gown and ran back over to the Furball on Lockwood Boulevard. Now in its gazillionth iteration, the Furball is a masquerade ball to benefit Pet Helpers animal shelter. They really put on a good time at the Marriott — the place was decked out in spangles and flattering lights. We saw a wide interpretation of both the masquerade dress code and the black-tie one — outfits ranged from knockout ball gowns and handmade Venetian-style masks to a pleather catsuit to a guy dressed up like a dog. And we don’t mean “Oh, some face paint and a fuzzy sweater.” No, dude had on a full-blown puppy mask. A bunch of interpretative dancers led us to dinner after the cocktail hour, but we were having such a blast that we almost stayed too late and forgot to pull our signature dine-and-dash move (don’t ask — trade secret).
Across the Cooper, the USS Yorktown was transformed from a merely interesting historic aircraft carrier into an elegant cocktail lounge. The cast of Southern Charm hosted a benefit for the Wounded Warrior Project — and to celebrate the second season of the show. Several hundred people turned out for a bachelor auction (Shep fetched some five large, y’all), a concert from up-and-coming country singer Kelsea Ballerini (she was outstanding), and a lot of crab cakes and SoCo. The ever lovely Patricia Altschul (Southern Charm cast member and mom of Whitney Sudler-Smith) really knows how to throw a bash. When we got the boot around 10 p.m., we were genuinely sad to see the night end. Altschul made herself a strong contender for hostess of the year. Sad that the night was ending, we consoled ourselves by petting a Pomeranian named Siegfried (allegedly Mrs. A’s) and an emergency stop off at Bojangles.
We stayed to bed for most of Saturday, exhausted by the previous night, but had regained our strength by Sunday afternoon in time for Second Sunday. After perusing the sale rack at Worthwhile and almost adopting one of the shelter puppies that seem to always appear during Second Sunday, we sauntered over to Zero George for Pigs N’ Pearls. What might that be? Oh, just an oyster roast-meets-pig pickin’, a.k.a. best party idea ever. We were greeted by a mountain of Lowcountry boil and roasted oysters, a whole hog from Swig & Swine, and some boozy apple cider beautifully displayed in the gorgeous outside areas of this knockout boutique hotel. We two-stepped a little to the live band and taught some tourists from Indiana how to shuck an oyster (hint: gloves are your friend). It was a good mix of locals and visitors and a nice reminder of what makes Charleston so special. We love to complain about them, but it’s fun to see the Holy City anew through the eyes of an out-of-towner.