Alive After Five in the not-so-dirty south

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For a while now I’ve felt that Ballantyne is morphing into a mini-Uptown. Last year saw the arrival of Cosmos Café, and this year Libretto’s, the famed pizzeria adjoined to Strike City, has opened shop there, too. But as of yesterday, they added another popular Uptown feature — their own Alive After Five. Ready to unwind after a long day of job hunting, I couldn’t imagine anything better than relaxing to live music ... and honestly, I wanted to know what five o’clock was like in my mini-Uptown.

Within moments of arriving, I already noticed a big difference. Ballantyne caters to a much younger crowd, and no, I don’t mean the 18 and up crowd — I’m talking ages 1-10. When I worked in the EpiCentre, I noticed families were common during the day, but as far as Alive after Five goes, it was rare to see children running around. The Ballantyne event had a mix of every crowd, but the most popular group there was families. As you walked through, children were playing with beach balls and stopping to talk to the Maggie Moo’s mascot. And while I had expected an event reminiscent of what I saw Uptown, it was nice to see moms and dads playing games and laughing with their kids.

Alongside the children, there were some young professionals from the area, but an even greater majority were couples, married and unmarried, out to enjoy the warm weather, a cold beer and some live music.

And the music was perfect for mellowing out. The stage was located toward the back of the shopping complex, close to the Harris Teeter and the Big Daddy’s Burger Bar — which, if you’d rather avoid the crowds of Alive After Five, has an incredible patio for listening to the music.

The entertainment was provided by Coconut Groove, who played a mixture of Jimmy Buffett classics, such as "Margaritaville," and classic rock hits like "Layla" by Eric Clapton. The music really fit the Ballantyne location. With the cool breeze, the clear blue skies, and the relaxing sounds of Coconut Groove, it felt as though stepping through the Alive After Five gates erased any remains of a hectic outside — too bad it was still there after the event was over.

For Ballantyne, the official Alive After Five party was held at the Fox and Hound, versus the buck-wild Whisky River of Uptown. In fact, as soon as you enter the gates, the Fox and Hound girls handed out a flyer for ½ off Appetizers, $3 16oz BL Aluminum bottles, and $2 all draft beers- munchies and beer specials? Can’t beat that, right?

Overall, Ballantyne’s Alive After Five offers a different atmosphere than you would expect from Uptown. In the city, Alive After Five is the kick-off for a crazy night on the town. But Ballantyne hosts an event that brings friends and families together, and also provides for a quick stop between work and home. But whether you revive yourself with the crazy antics of Uptown or the quiet, mellow crowd at Ballantyne, the arrival of a new Alive After Five shows that, uptown or down south, there’s always a five o’clock party somewhere.

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