The Triangle, especially Chapel Hill, is considered a really smart place — where there are more PhDs per capita than any other metropolitan statistical area [still looking for the citation, but I really have heard it from multiple sources].
So, maybe our celebratory nature and proclivity for partying isn’t center stage, but I promise that you can find everything you need to entertain the party animal – whether it’s crazy cousin or a capricious colleague – in the Chapel Hill-Carrboro area.
Now, one can celebrate ANY day of the week in Orange County, but there are a few nights of the year that are legendary in our town:
Halloween: Often the subject of urban legend, October 31 in Chapel Hill has drawn in the crowds in costume for years. Though recently, there have been efforts to make the evening more targeted to the locals (understandably because of the cost of cleanup to the Town), Franklin Street is still particularly fun when dressed as a ghoul or goblin after a few gin and tonics.
Living in the 80s: Still have those leg warmers? Couldn’t bear the thought of tossing that “Members Only” jacket? Heck, neon is back. So, you’re bound to have something to wear to the WXYC 80’s Dance Party. UNC’s student radio station annually hosts a party honoring a previous decade at Cat’s Cradle, one of the best live music venues in the country.
The WXYC 80’s Dance was one of the first dates for my sister and her husband.
Most couples celebrate at fancy restaurants,
but dressing in “period costume” seems to make them nostalgic.
So sleazy: A legend in its own right, I’ve actually never attended Sleazefest at Local 506, another great live music venue in our area. But even the lore that surrounds the annual music festival will keep your favorite party animal entertained. I’ve seen a much tamer version at Southern Culture on the Skids (and managed not to get covered in fried chicken or banana pudding), but I think most would agree that Sleazefest is a must-see for the ultimate party animal.
I’ve thought about starting a rival meme to the Mayor’s #EveryDowntownChapelHillLunchSpot, to review #EveryDowntownChapelHillDrinkingSpot; however, I’ve long outgrown games of bar golf. But no matter what night it is, there is a lively bar scene downtown (and great spots further afield) to host all your party animals for your favorite drinking games.
Pinching pennies: Say you’re excited about heading out on the town, but you don’t have the pocketbook to match your palate. Though most are offered only on weekdays, one can find incredible drink specials worth the glare from your boss the next morning listed with the Chapel Hill Downtown Partnership or The Stagger, or download the Cocktail Compass app from the Independent Weekly!
Trouble’s-a-brewin’: Forget the wine from that other Orange County, this O.C. has the best in brewskies. Make sure you hit these local breweries and stores for tastings on the spot or growlers to go: Mystery Brewing, String Steel Brewery, Carolina Brewery, Top of the Hill, Starpoint Brewing, Carrboro Beverage Company, and T.J.’s Beverage & Tobacco.
More than moonshine: Though I haven’t done my research, I am positive that parts of Orange County were once (or maybe still are) manufacturing sites for “White Lightning.” (A little birdie told me that when the land was cleared for Burroughs Wellcome, they found a still). But now in the heart of Chapel Hill, we are host to manufacturing once again, this time to the state’s only all-organic distillery, distilling vodka, gin, and white whiskey. Stay tuned for when it hits ABC store shelves, but, until then, maybe consider planning your next event at the newly-coined “Chapel Hill Booze Building.”
Shots of organic vodka at Topo Distillery
For those that can’t wait to put on their dancing shoes, many adults search for a place beyond Players, because he or she has grown out of Holy Grails (though some fellow UNC alum will force you down a walk down Memory Lane, straight to the infamous dance club, followed by a ride on the P2P, all out of nostalgia). I would contend nothing can replicate a Hell Dance Party, there are still places to get your groove on.
Hitting the books: You can tell everyone you’re headed to The Library and let them draw their own conclusions. This bar has fun DJs and sometimes you can stake claim on the “stage” next to the window to perform your own show!
EastEnders: Know that whether shaken or stirred, their beverages pack a punch, you can experience varying levels of sophistication on the different floors of the East End Martini Bar. My M.O.? Drink your martinis on the “ground floor,” and then head upstairs to shake your groove thing.
My sister, brother-in-law, friends, and myself celebrating on the top floor.
Nothing but the real thing: So although I’ve already said that the Hell Dance Party couldn’t be replicated, my co-worker says the “No But 4 Real” dance parties at Chapel Hill Underground (The Bar Formerly Known as Hell) is a place to boogie down.
Come 2 AM, after all the drinking and dancing, your partying may have caused you to be ravenous. I’ll save the roundup of late night eating for another post, but just in case, know that you can find a REALLY early, early bird special (see below). But if you’re going to “get the worm,” head to Bowbarr for a mezcaltini – that’s where this party animal found a worm in her drink, and learned that I could not solicit the waiter’s assistance, but must ingest it for good luck. Or maybe that’s what my fellow party animals led me to believe…
Sign for an “early bird special” at Time-Out