Pineapples and palms. Breezy cabanas. A bomb diggity DJ. Are we at Spoleto Scene’s Shakedown or some tropical Lowcountry hybrid party? The answer is both. Every year, organizers are confronted with converting the Memminger Auditorium black box into something never before “Scene.”

Last Thursday night’s kickoff event is intended to keep the under-40 crowd engaged with the upcoming 2019 fest, and wow, did they pull out all the stops to make it happen. The party started with eager Millennials dressed in their trendiest spring-wear mingling around the entrance to Memminger which, by the way, was outlined by the most incredible trellis of jasmine in all of Charleston. Seriously, the perfume permeated every aspect of the event. The early onset of Charleston heat might’ve been a concern, but Scene was prepared with a Gelati Moto stand and ice cold beverages aplenty. [image-6] [image-4] Enter the flower-lined double doors and take a walk with me around the room. Scenesters are immediately greeted by Pure Fluff Co. spinning wispy sweet treats on a stick. (In case you didn’t know, Pure Fluff is a super hip organic cotton candy company with flavors like pineapple coconut to satisfy your sweet tooth). It’s worth noting that they also provide a hemp-infused product that’s all the rage with your local 4/20 friends.

Glance around the room, and you’ll quickly realize that something tropical this way comes. The theme is none other than tiki chic, and we know how Charleston loves tiki. Banana leaf-printed pillows line cabanas at the back of the room while cocktail tables are embellished with actual banana leaves and topped with gold-gilded pineapples.

The DJ, Auntie Ayi (aka Duolan Li), is spinning a perfect blend of party favorites mixed with indie beats. She’s bouncing to the music and suddenly you are too. She’s playing songs you didn’t even know you wanted to hear until you’re grooving next to a few dozen new friends.
[content-1] Above her head, a video reel created by videographer and Charleston poet laureate Marcus Amaker, cycles energetically through glimpses of Spoleto performances to come. The vibe is enough to make anyone’s heart flutter that the season is here at last. Spring! Spoleto! It’s time for a drink. [image-3][image-2]At the other end of the room, Cannonborough Beverage Co. is rattling shakers of citrus and rum-spiked “Daquille O’Neals” and Zen Gardens, a refreshing blend of vodka, basil, lime, and lychee. Munkle Brewing is pouring crisp blonde and brown brews. If beer and liquor aren’t your thing, there’s wine (in a can, of course.) With custom koozies to keep it cold … truly something for everyone.

Speaking of tastes, let’s talk food. Wiki Wiki Sandbar (the perfect food provider for a tiki-themed event) made mouths water with their trifold presentation of an eclectic chop salad tossed with bean sprouts, cilantro, diced red pepper, Mandarin oranges, and edamame; marinated char siu, fall-off-the-bone ribs with just the right amount of peppery kick; and super fresh, shoyu ahi poke marinated and tossed with onions and toasted sesame seeds. Hot damn, there are few bites that would better pair with that basil-tinged beverage.

Beyond the playful decor, palate-tingling flavors, and energetic beats, the party achieved its ultimate purpose: It piqued interest and excitement for what’s to come. After a throwdown like this to set the tone, we’re already looking forward to the next. Cheers! [image-5]

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