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The Scene

Leah Suarez, Circle of Light Gala, Holiday Beauty&Bliss Party, Dangermuffin CD release

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"Your tandem master is Nick. He's been OK since that last incident. The medication seems to be working. Course he couldn't take it this morning. They said not to take it with alcohol."
—jokes Mike Clemmons, a skydiving instructor at Skydive Walterboro, to a nervous customer about to enjoy her first free fall

Spellbound | Suarez mesmerizes Theatre 99

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A smoky voice replaced the typical laughter pouring out of the doors of Theatre 99 on Thursday evening. Good karma filled the air for Leah Suarez's much anticipated Found Freedom CD release party; the event also featured artwork by Nathan Durfee. Serenading a packed house with her seductive voice, Suarez delivered a playful performance, highlighted by a constant smile. A full entourage of talented local musicians was there to lend a hand, including Gerald Gregory, Nathan Koci, David Linaburg, Kevin Hamilton, Nick Jenkins, and Ron Wiltrout with guest appearances from Lindsay Holler and Bill Carson. The audience was mesmerized by Suarez's performance; however, it would have been nice if there had been enough room for the crowd to dance. After giving a shout out to local musicians and Modernisme, which will close today, Suarez ended her set and spent the rest of the evening gracefully weaving in and out of the crowd, chatting with everyone. —Svetlana Minx

Light on Their Feet | Boogying to a good cause under the big top

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The Christmas tree is not up yet, but on Thursday night Marion Square was fully decked out and sparkling. Hundreds of dolled-up and tuxedoed guests took their places in line, anxious to see what awaited them inside Soiree's huge glowing tents for the annual Volvo Circle of Light Gala benefiting Darkness to Light, a local nonprofit dedicated to fighting child sexual abuse. Each table was lavishly decorated and plated with delectable foods from some of Charleston's best restaurants. While the wine flowed and the conversations twittered, many eyes were quickly drawn to the light show on the ceilings, but their attention stayed on the flamenco dancers on the elevated stage in the center of the tent. At the entrance to a second tent — the home of the after-party lounge and dance floor — Dave Brown from Coastal Cigars offered fresh, hand-rolled cigars to the gala guests as they fluttered in. Inside, there were overstuffed sofas, smaller elevated dance floors, two fully stocked bars, and a colorful donated painting by Lucho of Eye Level Art, all combining to create a clean, sophisticated lounge look. On the dance floor dresses twirled and tuxedo jackets were swung as the guests laughed, gossiped, flirted, and continued to drink, all the while remembering why they were there. —Svetlana Minx

Botoxicating | Local ladies follow their bliss

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On Thursday, the Lowcountry Plastic Surgery Center's second annual Holiday Beauty & Bliss Party was packed with bejeweled Charlestonian ladies who, thanks to their aforementioned gems, sparkled like Christmas trees — that is if Christmas trees got Botox injections. The party offered nearly everything a glamour gal could want — mani-pedis, massages, discounted Botox and Juvederm, facials, and MAC makeovers. It certainly wasn't the place to be for wallflowers. The ladies who opted to have Botox injections freely walked about, their recently stuck faces shining under glistening gel. In the end, it wasn't about botulism; it was about pampering. And boy, do these women know how to pamper themselves! The hallways were lined with top-of-the-line beauty products, jewelry, upscale finger foods, and opulent wines. While the ladies were busy getting beauty tips and glam makeovers in preparation for the upcoming holidays, the Charleston Symphony Orchestra's Alex Agrest played the violin and the ladies of Mary Mojo hawked beautiful clothes. Glitzy, glam, and fun — all under a hot-pink Christmas tree made of feathers. —Svetlana Minx

Perilous Pastries | Dangermuffin still a safe bet

If a band has "made it" when the girls are singing along to a group's originals, Dangermuffin are on their way up. Folks may still hear the name and wonder if it's some sort of German hardcore outfit, but the packed house at the Pour House on Thursday knew they were in for a full-on Americana assault. Their umlaut cast aside, the Muff have successfully graduated into legitimacy (although they can still rock a mean Pink Floyd cover).

For their first set, the trio stuck with originals, and from the rambling "Banjo Love" to "What's in a Bottle?", there were plenty of girls crooning along. In a bit of PR enlightenment, they gave out copies of their new disc Beermuda, for free, all night. I've already heard it playing at two parties this week.

The band invited bass player Gary Hewitt onto the stage for the entire show, adding a welcome low-end depth to the guitar-driven sound. Lap steel player B.J. Craven honky-tonked his way through a few numbers, and Blue Plantation mandolin player Dave Vaughan jumped on stage to help turn the dance floor into a hillbilly barn dance during the "Dueling Muffins" encore at 1:30 a.m.

Dangermuffin have graduated from their cover-band-in-the-corner days, evidenced by their solid album of sing-along alt-country. They know how to work a crowd to its full fun potential, and nobody's going to go home and forget their name. —Stratton Lawrence

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