It’s been awhile since we’ve indulged in Charleston’s artistic side. After a few weekends of sports- and beer-centric events, we decided to switch it up and take part in the artsy offerings of our city. And with the Spoleto Festival coming up, we could use the practice.
We started out with a party and a show hosted by the Charleston International Film Festival, which hosted an opening night reception on Thursday. George Street was closed off in front of the Sottile Theatre so guests could mingle. A Charlie Chaplin impersonator greeted guests as students from the College of Charleston walked by the velvet-roped area with quizzical looks, wondering who took over their street. The crowd was a diverse mix of model/actor types, older producers in suits, and everything in between. Ladies in tight cocktail dresses posed in front of the theater, and the guys checked out the display cars parked on the street.
Last year, we spied a few people who may have overindulged before the opening credits and spent the remainder of the evening snoring through the feature, so we were very judicious in our wine intake — we didn’t want to be caught drooling on the plush seats. It helped that CIFF offered food to the crowds this year, and there was a huddled push toward the catering table when it was all laid out an hour after the party started. We decided to forgo the rush for Brett McKee’s gazpacho shooters and snuck a plate from the Manny’s Neighborhood Grill employees handing out samples of hummus.
At 7 p.m., we shuffled inside for the evening’s surprise film. Mayor Joseph P. Riley gave a speech expressing his excitement for the festival, and after a welcome from the CIFF founders, the show started with A House, A Home, a very sweet short film. The mystery feature was What Maisie Knew, a Henry James adaptation about a dysfunctional familty that had only been seen previously at the Toronto International Film Festival. We felt lucky to be some of the few people to watch Julianne Moore and Alexander Skarsgard on the big screen in our own town.
After our film warm-up, it was time to stretch our other artistic muscles. Since Jail Break is an all-encompassing music and arts festival, it seemed the perfect choice to fill in the gaps in our aesthetic appreciation. Walking into the Old City Jail on Saturday, any spookiness was shooed away as we were immediately surrounded by colorful tutus. Local designer Katie Killham brought her line of tulle skirts, Poof, to the space, and models sauntered around all evening in her creations. Upstairs, there was a room for every kind of art. Paintings from local artists, photography from students at the Art Institute of Charleston, and sculpture were installed throughout the Jail.
A makeshift dance floor was laid upstairs for performers from Coalesce Dance Company, Annex Dance Company, CofC, and Daft Concept, and viewers stood transfixed as a DJ played for the performers. We didn’t make it into one of the comedy sets, but we heard laughter from the closed door. The main stage for musicians was set up outside as well as another for dance. Lily Slay of the Royal Tinfoil led the crowd in a rollicking good time, and Steven Fiore ended the night with a run through of his new release, Youth and Magic.
There was no way we could be bored at this event — as one performance ended, another began. Even the beer line moved quickly as guests seemed eager to get back to the fun.