Spoleto season is officially upon us ­— or, at least it is for the members of Spoleto SCENE aka “SCENEsters.” You know who they are: the hip, culturally engaged 20 to 30-somethings who inject both their youth and a little cash into our fair city’s most renowned festival. They kicked off the Spoleto season last week with their SHAKEDOWN party at Memminger Auditorium.

Attendees were greeted to a space entirely transformed by dozens of floor-to-ceiling, sheer fabric tubes, bathed in an eerie citrine glow. Forget Christmas in July and think, Halloween in April. Even the cocktail tables, illuminated from within, stood out against the low-lit room like Jack-O-Lanterns. DJ Rehab lorded above everyone, expertly catering to the crowd by choosing songs popular from the late ’90s to early 2000s, which elicited many, “This is my jam!”s throughout the evening.
[image-4]We nibbled on all that was mini: hamburger sliders from Bohemian Bull, pork belly and kimchee sandwiches on Hawaiian bread from Poogan’s Smokehouse, gelato made with Johns Island strawberries from Cirsea Craft Ice Cream, the most adorable little doughnuts sporting toppings like chocolate and bacon from none other than Hamby’s Catering, and more. It was very cool, y’all.

Don’t be fooled, however. These glamorous patrons aren’t necessarily in it for the discounts to shows afforded to them by their memberships. No, for them, it’s all about the party. And that’s quite alright. As Randy Katsen, the gentleman pouring pint-sized cups of Cathead Vodka, pointed out, “I’ve gone through 18 bottles of vodka so far tonight.” N.B., fair reader: it was only 1.5 hours into the evening at that point.  [image-7]
When asked which performances they were most excited to attend, most of the people I chatted with sort of laughed and shrugged. The most common response? The finale show. But hey — if you’re a single scenester, you could meet your future spouse at that very event. Just ask Jeremiah Schenzel, beverage director for Cocktail Club and Bar Mash who was there shaking cocktails. He met his wife at the finale in 2013, and proposed exactly one year later at, you guessed it, the finale show. That’s definitely worth the price of admission. [image-6]
SCENE membership has perks beyond the party, however. The whole point of becoming a SCENEster, according to SCENE steering committee co-chair Matt Mill, is to “bond with your peers and share an experience.” Mill, who grew up here and attended College in Charleston, moved to Atlanta for several years. Upon returning, he joined Spoleto SCENE to help carve out a space for himself that differed from the version of Charleston of his youth. It was important for him to recapture a bit of the culture he left behind in Atlanta if he was going to be happy in what is, let’s face it, a pretty homogenous city. His hope in throwing a party SHAKEDOWN is to encourage new membership, and help other people find that special place within this city that doesn’t quite feel like, well, this city. [image-1]
So go ahead and check out the young and the restless, er — beautiful, and if you’re between the ages of 21 and 39, consider becoming a member. Otherwise, stick with me and I’ll guide you through the rest of the season, at least one pork belly slider and several giant vodka-drink-fueled-parties at a time. 


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