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Cheap Thrills

Comedy theater, sports connection, tango & tapas

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ELIZABETH BILLIARDS If you haven't discovered the coolest watering hole south of the Square, it's time for a trip to EB's (hip, regional lingo). Voted best pool hall as well as best first date place, it's also dirt cheap. Pool is free. Darts are free. Card tables can be set up to start a poker game for free. Friday nights, EB's orders pizza for patrons to consume for free. Catching the trend? OK, the drinks aren't free, but large pints are only $3 (we recommend the Red Hook IPA). EB's also has the best White Russians in town. For $5, you can get a bucket's worth of the delicious milkshake-like digestif. With a satellite signal EB's, located at 1400 Central Ave., in the giant parking lot behind CVS, is a great place to catch a ball game on TV.

CHARLOTTE COMEDY THEATRE Have ya been moping around, feeling a little blue? Then here's the thing for you! Check out Sunday's Open Mic Jam, a combo of comedy, spoken word, music, you name it. Show at 7pm; $3. The location is 1308 D the Plaza. Call for reservations 1-866-467-7681. Web: www.charlottecomedy.com.

FALL IN LOVE FILM SERIES On the heels of its "Summer Retro Film Series" (which featured Raiders of the Lost Ark and The Breakfast Club, among others), Ballantyne Village Theatre now presents the Fall In Love Film Series. Each week, a popular love story will be screened at the venue, with matinees Saturday and Sunday and one evening show Friday. Unfortunately, the series has come to an end. The last night features, of course, Casablanca (Sept. 22-24). For times, tickets or other info, call 704-369-5101.

SPORTS CONNECTION The ultimate cheap thrill is, of course, sports! Among the conventional sports offered at this complex are unconventional (and cheap) games like laser tag and skating. For $5, future Tony Hawks can skate all day -- and Star Wars fans can play laser tag. Enjoy while you can because the skate park is closing on Sept. 30. Go online www.sportsconnectionnc.com or call 704-583-1444.

FESTIVAL IN THE PARK Charlotte Shout! extends into Freedom Park, Camelot-style, as the 42nd run of the four-day festival starts. Visitors will enjoy a range of musical, performance and visual arts native to the Southeast and plenty to keep the kiddies busy as well. Note: Friday is Blues Night featuring hometown icon Pervis Lee and the Betty Pride Blues Band. All performances are family-friendly. Times: Sept. 21, 6-10pm; Sept. 22, 12-10pm; Sept. 23, 10am-10pm; Sept. 24, 10am-6pm. Freedom Park, 1900 East Blvd. Details: 704-338-1060 or www.festivalinthepark.org.

LEARN TO MEDITATE Take it from loyal practitioners of meditation: There's nothing like it to take the stress of your workday off your shoulders. That's why the Pain & Rehab Institute is offering a free class in the breathing techniques and imagery used in ancient qi gong meditation (betcha didn't know there was more than one kind). The office is located at 128 E. Plaza Drive in Mooresville. Classes are Thursdays at 7:30pm. Call 704-649-1629 to get started on the path to serenity.

TANGO & TAPAS Patou and the Charlotte Tango Society host this free informal lesson on the Argentinian tango, perfect for making friends. Learn this sensual dance and improve existing skills with instructor Daniel Arredondo. Monday nights at 7pm. Patou, A French Bistro, 1315 East Blvd. Call 704-376-2233 or visit www.patoubistro.com or www.passionfortango.com.

LATIN NIGHTS "Viva la vida loca," grooving the night away to samba, salsa, merengue, bachata and the hot current craze, reggaeton. Free dance lessons are offered when doors open at 9pm. Touting "celebrity instructors," Dolce Vita is sure to be packed the first Thursday of every month. Hit www.hispanos-usa.com or call 336-988-8887.

NASCAR 101 The New South For The New Southerner program begins again in earnest with a Fall installment with a NASCAR focus. "NASCAR 101" with Dr. Tom Hanchett, Winston Kelly and David Poole gives just you all the background you need to acclimate as smoothly as possible into NASCAR country. In case there is any doubt to the ease of the transition, wine will be provided by Shelton Vineyards. This first chapter in the series will be Thu, Sept. 21 at 5:30 p.m. Levine Museum of the New South, 200 E. 7th St. Info: 704-333-1887 x501 or www.museumofthenewsouth.org. Admission is $4; free for members.

GLOVER MICROCINEMA A new series featuring the "The Films of Ingrid Bergman Directed by Roberto Rossellini" begin this week on Tuesday nights. Upcoming titles include: Europa '51 (Sept. 26), Journey to Italy (Oct. 3), and The Chicken/Jeanne d'Arc au bucher (Oct. 10). The regular screening times are Sunday afternoons at 4pm and Tuesday nights at 7:30pm. The Glover Microcinema is located in the Art House on 3103 Cullman St. For full details: www.glovermicrocinema.blogspot.com

= Free!

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