I was bitten by a shark at L4 and I liked it

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It was the end of my first work week at a new job. I’d only had one week of funemployment — having fun while unemployed — prior to starting that gig, and I was beyond exhausted. I thought to myself, “How am I going to keep up this column if I can’t even find the energy to go out? All I want to do is sleep.” So again, I sucked it up and put my big kid panties on. Yeah, I’m pretty much a G.

With conversations swirling about overturning the recent expansion of the right to marry for all in North Carolina, I found myself on the website for L4 Lounge. The banner boasted “Love. 4. All.”

A hidden gem right off Central Avenue, it’s easy to miss if you’re not actively looking. My cousin and I pulled up around 1 a.m. to a small venue with a fenced back patio illuminated with string lights. There weren’t many cars in the parking lot but there was a steady, dull bass line that could be heard every time the patio door opened. Still, I was worried there wouldn’t be enough entertainment, so I had the Uber wait until I “checked out” the scene before he left.

When I peeked inside, I found many more people than I expected. The lighting was dim but accented with a soft, neon glow, and a few hookahs were circulating. There was also plenty of seating — yes, this plays a HUGE role in my decision making. The worst feeling is when you must call it a night simply because your feet hurt. (Ladies, you know what I’m talking about.) It was warm and welcoming, so I decided to stay.

This small lounge fuses the greatest elements of a bar and club — great music for dancing, a dance floor, an outdoor patio with beer pong, corn hole and heaters. Oh, and don’t forget the drinks. They have two different “buckets” — I got the Shark Attack — that are actually served in a plastic pail. You get attached to that bucket, too, I was quite disappointed when I returned for round two and I was given a glass instead. It was only when the bartender, who created the cocktail, assured me there was just as much alcohol that I let it go.

And she was right. All I can tell you about the Shark Attack is that it has peach schnapps and an upside down can of Red Bull. And boy did that shark indeed attack. Before the night was over I was Instagramming with everyone with whom I’d had a conversation, and my cousin was taking turns singing Sam Smith’s “Latch” with the host.

My confidence was high and inhibitions were low, thanks to my dear friend alcohol, so I sought out the owner, figuring he/she wasn’t there. Despite it being her birthday weekend, she was. And she was being an absolute boss behind the bar, putting in just as much work as the rest of her staff.

After drunkenly trying to explain I write about nightlife for Creative Loafing, I managed to snag a few moments and texts from Tamalea Pierce, better known as Tammy. At only 28, Pierce has been the owner of L4 Lounge for two years. Quite a feat in what I have felt has been a male-dominated industry in Charlotte.

After graduating from Queens University in 2009 with a B.A. in psychology, she realized the all too familiar catch 22 of needing to get experience before being able to get a job in the field. (Reason No. 7 — see my previous column — why being out of college sucks: You have to actually find something to do with your life.) She turned to the restaurant industry and after she quickly climbed the ladder, she realized that she could carve her own path as an entrepreneur. Soon after, she met her partner, who introduced her to the previous owner of Blue Bar, which has now become L4 Lounge.

Pierce reflects on that grand opening night in 2012: “I had -$3 in my bank account, but that was okay. Because when you start from nothing you have everything to gain.” She never fails to attribute her success to the support of her family and friends, even down to painting and laying tile for the remodel.

Pierce says her goal is to offer “an atmosphere where good vibes and great people meet.” I can tell you L4 Lounge is exactly that. I ended up going two nights in a row, and in case you were wondering, that shark took another bite out of me.

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