1. Prom king Dave Fox and his queen (2005) 2. Year of the monkey (2004) 3. Osei Chandler (2001) 4. Steve and Lynne Crooks at the Prom (2005) 5. "Angel" George Younts (2001) 6. Best Street Character Byron (2001) 7. Cap'n Harry (2000) 8. Best Chef Robert Carter (2002) 9. Farrahman (2002) 10. The women of Whispers at the prom (2005) 11. Jonathan Gray and David Lee (2003)
No one around here can really remember the first Best of Charleston party or whether we even had one back in March of 1998, when our first-ever BOC issue hit the streets. Most likely, it was just a handful of staffers (nine at the time), along with random friends and contributors who ended up at the Bubble Room and got drunk. The following year, we started the tradition of holding a party at the winner of the Best New Bar category and inviting all of the Best of Charleston winners.
In 1999, the party was at Trio Club; in 2000, we hit Mitchell's on the Market, and the food was provided by Hank's Seafood Restaurant -- the Best New Restaurant. The next year it was at Mandalay on the corner of King and Wentworth streets, and I think that's the first year John Zucker of Cru Catering provided a good bit of food, which still ran out way too early. Then it was at City Bar in 2002, where we packed the place for one hell of a party.
In those early years, there was more booze than food, but the crowd has always represented the best of Charleston -- with newscasters mingling with politicians, chefs, shopkeepers, and artists. The party continued to grow in popularity and reputation, and we upgraded in 2003 to the Best Museum -- the Gibbes --where we featured live music from Best Female Musician/Vocalist Cary Ann Hearst and tried our best to keep the crowds from destroying priceless works of art (whoops). That's the year the mayor (Best Charlestonian) showed up, too.
In 2004, we headed to the Best Attraction, the S.C. Aquarium, for what turned out to be a memorable night. By that time, we'd learned our lesson about providing as much food as booze, and the BOC party became an even hotter ticket to score. In fact, we sold tickets to that one, allowing readers to get in on the action for the first time. The next year, we held a prom in the College of Charleston's Silcox Gym on George Street. From drag queens to Farrahman, everyone came decked out in their tuxes, gowns, cheerleader outfits, etc., for probably the most interactive, fun party yet.
We've since returned to the Aquarium, which really is the very best place to have a Best of Charleston party. There's plenty of room to spread out, and all the best restaurants in town bring their finest examples for everyone to enjoy -- from Kaminsky's desserts and Starbucks coffee to Wasabi's sushi and Cru Catering's mac and cheese. We'll be there again this Wednesday, March 7, celebrating our 10th annual issue with the Best of Charleston.