The 2nd Annual Charlotte Literary Festival went down last weekend at Marshall Park and The Blake Hotel, but it all started with RealEyes Bookstore in NoDa.
The "little bookstore that could" has made literature a reason to celebrate -- the positive artistic energies radiating from RealEyes are spreading throughout the QC, and rising like heat into the bar above it: Wine Up.
I went to Wine Up for their Soultry Tuesdays Open Mic night to partake in my first reading. When I rolled up to fully occupied seats, I developed a severe case of mic fright. I was envisioning being booed out of there like the Apollo. I even had to follow-up a sexual reading that included hip thrusting for effect. But the sound effects of concurrence coming from the crowd let me know I was welcomed on stage -- everyone was welcome.
The crowd showed all the artists love, exhibiting appreciation for all creative expression. It was art without judgment, and there was more talent than wine at Wine Up. (Albeit they did have a lot of jello shots served in syringes, as well as Respect the Mic Ice Teas.) The multifaceted performers, many of whom were members of SlamCharlotte, were singers, writers, spoken word artists and dancers -- they may even sweat talent. A Wine Up regular who goes by the name of Carlos is the titan of talent.
It's called Wine Up Bar and Billiards, but there was so much happening on stage I didn't even notice they had pool tables. But they do, along with a giant word magnet wall where "bad spellers of the world unite," a dance floor, bar, lounge area and tables surrounding the stage.
The size of the crowd progressed along with the night, and following the open mic, they turned spoken word into a sport. A panel of judges with dry erase boards lined up in the front of the room rating the liberal ad-libbing. Slam Charlotte rightfully took the title, beating out the Traveling Poets of Virginia. I'd also like to give a perfect 10 to DJ Flamingo.
Meanwhile, The Pure Romance people lured me to their display table of sexual enhancing creams, and proceeded to tell me what each one did. There's nothing like a conversation about multiple-orgasm-skill enhancements to end the night.
At Wine Up, you'll find nightlife with a side of cultural enrichment -- in addition to Soultry Tuesdays, they have Shake em' Off Sundays, Wednesdays are Distinctive Laughs (a stand-up comedy showcase), Thursdays are Touch One Production's Spoken Word and DJ night, and last Friday they had Oral Fixation, a verbal seduction.
Wine Up in YesDa ... Now that's what up!