Thursday night the SWIG launch party took over Mynt Lounge. The guests mingled with nominees for the hottest bartender and burliest bouncer competition while sipping on Finlandia vodka cocktails and nom nom-ing on fish tacos. We caught up with SWIG cover girl Shar Dionisio from Prohibition, who had no idea she was going to be on the cover and only found out when she was tagged in a Facebook post. We left Dionisio to celebrate her cover and caught up with the L.I.F.E nominees, Maggie Carroll and Jeremy Prince, who — rumor has it — has incredibly soft hands.

They were set up in front of the bar and enjoying a low-key hangout sesh. Maggie hadn’t been checking the voting results, but Jeremy obviously had been, letting her know she was in the lead. She also gave away who she voted for. “I thought we could vote more than once, so I voted for Jeremy … I should have voted for myself,” she said, laughing. (The voting has since been separated. Head to to vote for your favorite bartender and bouncer.)  

Making sure to hit up all the nominees in attendance, we found Travis Garrison, who was working the door when we first arrived. He admitted to voting for himself and checking up on the results. “It looks like Heavy’s [from Closed for Business] my competition. I may have to choke him out,” he said. We liked his dedication and desire to win the title of burliest bouncer, and we’re pretty sure he was just kidding. But Heavy may want to watch his back, just in case. We didn’t get a chance to talk to Caroline Woods as she was being put to work serving up drinks behind the bar. A hottest bartender’s job is never done.

This time of year calls for some spooky goings-on, so we headed to Cypress Gardens’ Halloween in the Swamp to get our creep on. Although we arrived just as the doors opened, we still had to wait for about an hour before boarding our boat of doom. The boat took us straight into the swamp and kept our nerves on high alert by keeping things quiet for a while before the first spook occurred. Then monsters came to life on docks, abandoned canoes revealed skeletons and light shows, and zombies braved the alligator-infested water. We were frightened to say the least. One of the ghouls came right up to the boat, grabbing hold of the side. We’re lucky we didn’t tip the whole boat over.

After the swamp “tour,” we were dropped off at a haunted trail where zombies were on the run. The pitch black and dirt paths made us thankful that we took heed and sported our runners. Even though we were told not to run, we broke that rule as we tried to zigzag away from the actors who popped out of trees and around corners. The haunted trail also had stops set up for you to go in and explore — a couple of haunted shacks, a car accident, coffins, and one black tent that we were too scared to enter. Being chased by a bird-masked creature, we skirted around the outside of the obstacle only to be scolded. We thought it best not to soil our clothes for the nearly hour-long ride back to town.

As a reward for making it out alive, we were treated to stories and s’mores at the end of the ghostly experience. But having had our scary fill, we decided to hit the road.

On Saturday we were treated to some free style at the Big Mix at the Cannon Street YMCA, which celebrated street wear and youth culture. A seemingly shy kid took the mic and wowed the crowd as he spun rhymes off the top of his head like no one had expected.

When we weren’t silent with awe, we were erupting in cheers, and the unnamed teen captivated us until finally faltering after two minutes. A member of the trio Oxymoron (Tony London) was the only other brave audience member to take the mic, but his freestyle wasn’t so free and not nearly as long as he succinctly uttered, “Jesus loves you” to the tune of “Jesus Loves Me, This I know” and left the stage.

Afterward, Matt Monday (formerly Righchus) worked the crowd and performed three songs (including one with Benjamin Starr), although he was quickly ushered back onstage for an encore. Oxymoron performed next, and they too were popular with the crowd. We took a break from the performances to browse the merchandise from OD Daily, Vapor Apparel, and iDreamink and before we knew it people were starting to head out, so we followed suit.

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