I Discovered Motown and Watched a Guy Eat Fire at the North Charleston Arts Festival
Alright y’all, it’s been a long time coming since the pandemic started, but festivals are (slowly coming) back! First the Festival of Houses & Gardens, and now the North Charleston Arts Festival, we are finally moving away from Zoom life and back into in-person community events. If you’re beginning to break out of this year-long virtual reality, the North Charleston Arts Festival is a great first debut. This week, I got the opportunity to experience some old-school Motown soul music in a piano emporium, and support local artists at the Arty Block Party in North Charleston. All of the festival’s events that I attended were free, which for a broke college girl like me was a dream in itself. With an array of events both in-person and virtual, free and reasonably priced for adults and children alike, there’s something for everyone to enjoy as we roll into the month of May!
The first event that I attended was the “Motown Magic” concert at the Fox Music Hall in North Charleston. Out of the array of events that I could have attended, I chose this one because honestly, I had no clue what Motown was, and I was curious to find out. I was guided through all of the Motown jams from today, all the way back to the 60’s. The feeling of being surrounded by people of all ages gettin’ funky to the smooth rhythms of Motown thanks to Trané N’Chel & Company was completely eye-opening. After everything we’ve all been through with the pandemic, you could sense that everyone in the room was just happy to have a reason to get up and dance and be with one another. My only hope is that I get the chance to hear them again at the Spoleto Festival in June!
The Arty Block Party in Park Circle was honestly, the best night I’ve had in a long time. First off, there were tons of wild entertainers; drag roller-skaters, a one-man-band, a juggler on stilts, balloon twisters, and a guy riding a unicycle that somehow progressively got taller each time I saw him. Secondly, after being cooped up behind a screen for a year and having an extreme lack of face-to-face interaction with people, I had a growing feeling that my sense of community was dying. But when I saw the interactions between friends, between families and people from all walks of life, I was looking at a work of art. Charleston values community, and when we couldn’t see each other or have that face-to-face interaction with our favorite locals, I think we all suffered. Being able to come back together, socially distanced or not, is a privilege in today’s time and I don’t take any of it for granted. A lot of that community-feeling can be credited to Amani Smith & the Give Thanks Band, for bringing everyone together for one huge, harmonious dance party. But I’ve also got to give credit to the guy that I literally watched eat fire, catch a juggling bottle on his forehead, and cruise around on crazy unicycles and funky stilts, Mark Lippard. I loved getting to meet the artist behind the art from the local vendors, like Rebecca from Gypsy Castaway and Skigh from Crystals from Skigh, because it reminded me of just how community-oriented Charleston is, and why I love calling it home.
If this talk about how much fun I’ve been having this week has made you a little jealous, or given you just a teensy bit of FOMO, have no fear. The North Charleston Arts Festival runs through Sunday, May 2nd, and there’s at least 10 different events being held all around Charleston that you can attend during these next couple of days. To see all of the events happening and jump in on the fun, head over to the North Charleston Arts Festival’s website to see a full calendar of free and cheap events for you and your friends & family!
P.S. If you want to see my live reports from the North Charleston Arts Fest, or stay up to date with all of the festival and outdoor fun in Charleston, follow me on the Whim Social app!