When we heard that Spoleto SCENE was hosting their Le Grand C after-party at a South of Broad mansion, we expected a fancy affair. But like the French acrobatic show, which is a more bare-bones spectacle than the commercialized Cirque du Soleil, the party was a laid-back affair where old friends mingled with new.

The soiree took place on the first floor veranda and interior parlors of 1 Meeting Street, all lit up with red lighting. A champagne cocktail made with lemonade, Brut, and Cathead vodka was too sweet, and made us wish for a simple Lillet cocktail to complement the French performance. The food assembled in the center of the table was similarly off-theme, a smorgasbord of cupcakes and cookies that had us fantasizing about macarons and brie. It sat mostly untouched, rejected by those experienced enough to know that Spoleto season is a marathon, not a sprint.

But a boring food spread was balanced by a great line-up of characters. Editor Cator Sparks mingled with friends while textile designer Harper Poe talked fashion with Kari Kaldon. Performer Anne de Buck tossed her one-and-a-half-year-old daughter in the air along to the music of pianist Laura Ball, as savvy patrons gave each other knowing looks as if to say, “That one’s going to grow up to be an acrobat.” Members of the SCENE steering committee, among them Matt Mill and MacKenzie Kay, circulated through the rooms making conversation and introductions, a subtle tactic that can transform a party from a collection of cliques into a cohesive event.

Le Grand C performer Birta Benonysdottir chatted with partygoers about the company’s previous stops in Mexico City and Buenos Aires. When asked about her reaction to the news that they’d be traveling to Charleston, she demurred, admitting that “I didn’t know what South Carolina was.” It was a great reminder of how unique Charleston truly is, despite national trends and meaningless rankings. Nashville may have Husk, but they’ll never have Spoleto.


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