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Cheap Thrills

Things to do in the Charlotte area for $5 or less

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SALSA NIGHTS Be Shakira for a night and prove that your "Hips Don't Lie" at the free Latin-style dance lessons offered at the Loft, 1526 Elizabeth Ave. Learn salsa, merengue, bachata and more. Touting "celebrity instructors," this joint gets hips swiveling every Wednesday night at 8 p.m. Hit www.hispanos-usa.com or call 704-333-5898.

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 7 p.m. Patou, A French Bistro, 1315 East Blvd. Call 704-376-2233 or visit www.patoubistro.com or www.passionfortango.com.

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 7:30 p.m. Call 704-649-1629 to get started on the path to serenity.

GLOVER MICROCINEMA Classic and World Cinema: Tuesdays, 7:30 p.m. Upcoming title: The Hypothesis of the Stolen Painting (Nov. 28). Experimental and Indie Cinema: Sundays, 4 p.m. Next feature: Presents (Nov. 26). The Glover Microcinema is located in the Art House on 3103 Cullman St. For full details: www.glovermicrocinema.blogspot.com.

SERVICES EXCHANGE The Marines' "Toys for Tots" program has garnered a new sponsor. Manchester Automotive and Tire Center will donate a free oil change service to any person that brings in a toy for the annual drive, Nov. 1 through Dec. 15, no strings attached. Toys must be in original packaging and unwrapped. Business hours are Mon-Fri, 8 a.m. to 6 p.m.; address is 10001 Albemarle Road. Call 704-545-4597.

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.

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