[image-1]The threat of another late afternoon flood, predicted to rival Tuesday’s pant-hiking doozy, did nothing to deter this year’s jetset crowd from descending upon Scarecrow Hearth & Liquor Bar yesterday for the first official SCENE-sponsored happy hour of Spoleto Festival 2017.

On arrival, passing through the short hallway en route to the action, the strong, pleasant odor of something smoking and a mysterious blast of heat caused a brief sense of displacement. This, along with the use of wood for the beams of the vaulted ceilings, the bar, and floors, coupled with the soft gray light of the late day, donned a decidedly apres-ski feel to the whole affair. Aside from the 100 percent humidity, 80 degree temperature, and fruity rum cocktails, we may as well have been in Aspen.

Fortunately, the rain held mostly off, and by 6 p.m. the place was packed. A rival happy hour adjacent to ours added noise to the overall buzz, but picking out “scenesters” has become somewhat of a speciality of mine. These well-heeled Charlestonians look, dress, and act the part. There exists a sort of throwback vibe at these events: Nary a yoga pant in sight! Men in dress shirts instead of tank tops?! Pimms Cups over PBRs! Not to say there’s anything wrong with sleeveless clothing and cheap beer per se, but it’s comforting to know that there’s a whole class of Millennials and Gen Xers ready to carry on the baton of refinement into the future.

The $125 gains entry to a SCENE Membership. This contribution helps present artists to the Spoleto lineup, pays to throw killer parties at which food and beverage come gratis, and affords discounted admission to the most highly anticipated shows of the festival. Last night’s happy hour preceded one of the best perks of membership: dress rehearsal access to this season’s not-to-miss opera, Tchaikovsky’s Eugene Onegin, directed by repeat festival favorite Chen Shi-Zheng.

The night flew by in a spirit of reunion (after all it’s been over a month since the SCENE kickoff party), fueled by chicken sliders, bruschetta, and a few other delectables, and lubricated with discounted cocktails. The best part of night, however, was hearing patrons rattle off the names of all the shows they plan to attend. The SCENE seems to be taking Spoleto a little more seriously this year; last year the only performance most people had an interest in attending was the finale. Not so with this year’s crew. So watch out, Mom and Dad, Nana and Granddad. You may find yourselves battling it out for festival access with a youthful rising this year.

But don’t worry: At least they’ll hold the door for you before taking the best seat in the house. [image-3] [image-4] [image-5]