workshop weekend

Late Night Eats and Cocktails at the Bull City Swingout

Bull everything, Bulldega in the background.

For all of you coming into town for the Bull City Swingout who are unfamiliar with Durham, NC, we are a food town – a foodie town, if you will.  You will have the utmost advantage because much of Durham’s foodie food is located within walking distance of all the venues for this workshop and swing dance weekend.  I’m not here to tell you where to eat because it would take too long, there are too many good options – pull up Yelp and figure out what type of food you want to eat and just go.

Three pro tips: 1) If you want to eat at Dame’s Chicken and Waffles, you need to make a reservation in advance and prepare to either have leftovers or be destroyed in the best possible way.  2) Get the ribs at Blue Note Grill on Sunday night for John Dee Holeman’s show from 6-8 p.m. 3) There’s a small grocery store a block from the Armory called the Bulldega if you need to grab drinks (regular and alcoholic), snacks, or something quick to eat.

Late night food can be hard to figure out and I’d also like to highlight some of my favorite cocktail places within the walkable area, so let’s take a little jaunt around downtown Durham to some of my favorite haunts:

The neon sign lights the way to the Jack Tar Diner, named for the original hotel chain that built this building.

LATE NIGHT FOOD

Jack Tar Diner (202 Corcoran Street) – this is a 1/2 block from the Armory and they serve food until midnight.  Both main dances end at 11:30 p.m., so you’d have to go directly there to get seated and fed, but it’s worth it if you need a full meal after the dance.  The menu is diverse and delicious, they serve breakfast all day, and the cocktails at their adjoining bar, the Colonel’s Daughter, are excellent.  This is a two-for, since it’s also a cocktail recommendation – say hi to Kenny Smith the bartender for me, we went to college together.

Pie Pushers (117A W. Main Street) – the restaurant space itself isn’t open, but on Fridays and Saturdays they have a pizza window on the street level that’s open from 11 p.m. to 2 a.m. where you can buy slices.

Parts & Labor (723 Rigsbee Avenue) – serving until 2 a.m. on Fridays and Saturdays, this is the restaurant attached to Motorco Music Hall, which used to be an automobile dealership.  They offer a number of small plate style to-go foods (1 for a snack, 2-3 for a meal), everything from poutine to Bahn mi to vegan tacos to cheeseburger sliders.  Step up to the bar and order, opt to dine indoors or outdoors on their picnic table patio (or they may have the doors open and really everything becomes outdoor eating).  This is across the street from the Living Arts Collective.

The bar at Hutchins Garage.

Hutchins Garage (402 W. Geer Street) – serving pizza and beer until 2 a.m., large table seating.  I am less familiar with this place because it’s the newest, but the pizza I had there was good!  It’s also next door to the Living Arts Collective, just walk past the Crossfit place and the unoccupied portion of the building, which also used to be an automobile dealership.

The Accordion Club (316 W. Geer Street) – maybe you need a little cocktail and a late night snack and want to do it like a local?  Several of my friends claim this as their favorite bar in Durham, but what sold me on recommending this place is the Frito pie.  Open until 2 a.m.

If you’re looking for something outside of downtown, go to Cosmic Cantina (the one on Perry Street, open until 4 a.m.) for delicious burritos and nachos or Cook Out (3 locations in Durham, open until 3:00 a.m. or 3:30 a.m., depending on which one) for burgers, BBQ, and epic milkshakes.

I love sitting on the right side of the corner of the bar, you can watch the magic happen…

COCKTAILS

Bar Virgile (105 S. Mangum Street) – this is my favorite cocktail bar because it’s the total package for me – classic cocktail menu, seasonal cocktails, a bar staff that can make me anything I throw at them, excellent food menu ranging from bites to entrees, cool and cozy decor, and it’s 3 doors down from my office. 🙂

Alley Twenty-Six (320 E. Chapel Hill Street) – my favorite chef, Carrie Schleiffer, presides over the kitchen at Alley Twenty-Six, which is a cocktail-focused bar and restaurant with an excellent cocktail program and Carrie keeps things seasonal and adventurous with the food menu.  If you are looking for a stellar dinner and cocktails before the dance, this is my recommendation and it’s just around the corner from the Durham Armory.  Would recommend making a reservation just in case, but even if you forget you still may be able to get a table or a seat at one of the dual bars.

The Roof at The Durham Hotel (315 E. Chapel Hill Street) – the cocktails are good, but I’m recommending this for the decor and the view.  The Durham is a renovated bank building turned into something out of Mad Men, with impeccable MCM exterior and interior.  Take the elevator up to the rooftop bar for one of the best views of Durham and recline on the couches with your cocktail as you take it all in.

Can I just hang out by the Unscripted pool all day?

The Unscripted Hotel’s poolside bar (202 N. Corcoran Street) – this is another one I’m recommending for the experience, which is also straight out of Mad Men, perhaps even more overtly since they have left the second floor poolside/balcony area pretty much intact from the 1960’s.  There’s a cocktail hour planned here as part of the Bull City Swingout festivities from 6-8 p.m. prior to the Saturday night dance, but I’d also recommend coming here for a poolside cocktail and swim during the day if you’re not taking classes.  You don’t have to be a hotel guest to use the adorable pool.  Grab a Frosé (rosé and strawberry slushy) and don’t forget your sunscreen.

There are even more incredible restaurants serving wonderful cocktails downtown, so feel free to explore and make your own decisions.  Also, feel free to weigh in on your favorites in the comments.  Cheers and enjoy!

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Rhythm Is Our Business – October 12-13, 2018

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When dancer/bandleader/event organizer Megan Lange does something, she does it right – which is why I’m excited to be performing with Michael Gamble and the Rhythm Serenaders at the inaugural Rhythm Is Our Business, a workshop weekend in Nashville, Tennessee, October 12-14, 2018.  Megan, as a dancer and musician, has some great ideas on the interplay between the two, here’s a statement from the event website about this weekend’s focus:

“Live music is, arguably, one of the most pivotal parts of Lindy Hop – the history of our dance is steeped in the sounds of Duke Ellington, Jimmie Lunceford, Count Basie, and all of the swing bands we know and love. But when it comes to the partnership between dance and live music, we’re missing something – and Rhythm Is Our Business looks to bridge that gap.

We’re here to bring you the best in partnership – the partnership between dancers and live music, the partnership between song form and flow of movement, the partnership between dancers and their dance partners, and the way all of these come together to create a perfect dance. In a world where emphasis is put on steps and technique in movement, we want to remind you how to bring it back to the original roots of moving to and with the music you dance alongside.

Rhythm Is Our Business brings you back to the music. Let’s re-acquaint ourselves with that partnership together!”

I hope to see you in Nashville this weekend!

Hot Rhythm Holiday 2018 – Austin, Texas

Austin, Texas has an amazing swing dance community and plays host to an entire weekend of Balboa and Collegiate Shag at their annual event Hot Rhythm Holiday – I’m excited to be performing for TWO nights of live music with my Mint Julep Jazz Band, February 16 and 17, 2018!  We’ll be at the main dances each night from 8:15 p.m. to midnight.  Be prepared for a bunch of new tunes, maybe some special guests, it’s going to be a swell time. 😉  For more information, visit the HRH website and we’ll see you soon, Austin!

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Fall 2017

There’s a nice mix of performances coming up, a little dancing, a little listening, a little of both – hope to see you at one of these upcoming dates!

September 29-30, 2017 with Michael Gamble and the Rhythm Serenaders at Classic City Swing, Athens, GA – a wonderful workshop weekend at the University of Georgia, it will be a mix of visiting with family and performing with this swingin’ band.

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MJJB at the Duck Jazz Festival in 2015

October 7, 2017 Mint Julep Jazz Band at the Duck Jazz Festival, Duck, NC – the festival is expanding to add a performance on Saturday afternoon (us!) with a swing dance lesson between sets, come join us on the coast for this wonderful festival with enthusiastic jazz fans.

October 8, 2017 Ella at the Savoy: A Centennial Tribute, UNC’s Kenan Music Building rehearsal hall, Chapel Hill, NC – one of my pet projects honoring the unparalleled Ella Fitzgerald and her early work with the Chick Webb Orchestra and with Ella Fitzgerald and her Famous Orchestra.

October 19, 2017 Mint Julep Jazz Band at the North Carolina State Fair, Raleigh, NC – this is not only our first performance at the State Fair, but my first time ever at the State Fair!  As a lifelong North Carolinian, I’m looking forward to finally being able to attend.

October 20-21, 2017  Mint Julep Jazz Band at Jammin’ on the James, Richmond, VA – excited to be performing for the first time with the Mint Julep Jazz Band at an event that is near and dear to my heart.  My very first workshop weekend as a baby Lindy Hopper was at JOTJ and organizers Rita Shiang and Andy Nishida put on a top notch event, now in its 15th year.

The Process in Richmond, VA – July 22, 2016

The Mint Julep Jazz Band is returning to The Process in Richmond, Virginia this year, to perform at the Friday night main dance on July 22, 2016!  This Lindy Hop workshop weekend is unique in that it focuses on “the process of learning, teaching, and performing,” but definitely offers more than just workshops – there’s a ton of live music, including MJJB, Michael Gamble and the Rhythm Serenaders (who I’ll be joining for the Friday late night!), the Low Down Sires, the Resonant Rogues, and 504 Supreme.  Come swing out with us for a weekend of focused learning and amazing dancing!

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June is amazing!

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Lincoln Center’s band shell and dance pavilion at Damrosch Park.

Seriously, it’s going to be one of the best months for the Mint Julep Jazz Band and, thus, for myself – here’s a rundown of the goodness to come:

June 3 – Mint Julep Quintet is performing at Beyu Caffe, our local jazz and supper club at its new spacious and wonderful location. Durham, come hear your hometown swing band!

June 4Live Love Lindy is Winston-Salem’s first and NC’s only Lindy exchange for 2016! Looking forward to returning to the fabulous Vintage Theater (and its teeny tiny stage, it’s going to be tight for 8 people!) with the Mint Julep Jazz Band and also looking forward to performing with Michael Gamble and the Rhythm Serenaders at Camel City BBQ for the Saturday late night dance!

June 16-19 – I’ll be making my annual pilgrimage to Cleveland for All Balboa Weekend to pull triple duty: 1) DJ’ing, 2) performing at the Friday night dance with Michael Gamble and the Rhythm Serenaders, and 3) performing at the Saturday night dance with the Mint Julep Jazz Band.

June 24 – I am still pinching myself to make sure this is real and not a dream, the Mint Julep Jazz Band is performing at Lincoln Center’s Midsummer Night Swing!  We are flying to New York to perform at this wonderful event, part of a three week concert series with social dancing to live music in an outdoor pavilion under the stars in Damrosch Park!  I’ll tell you if it was a dream at the end of the month… 😉

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