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Creatives Can Put the Life Back in Charlotte Nightlife

Aerin Spruill

Every once in a while, when I’m least expecting it, the Charlotte nightlife scene surprises me. Just when I’m getting bored or complacent, disappointed in the newest brewery or bar that pops onto the scene, I stumble upon an experience that blows my mind. Pig Wiggle at The Blind Pig in NoDa was one of those experiences, the kind that rejuvenates your excitement for what Charlotte’s creative masterminds will do next. But how I ended up there is one for the books.

A few weeks ago a couple of girlfriends and I were invited to an after-hours soiree in NoDa. As someone who’s learned to heed my mother’s warnings of, “Nothing good happens after 2 a.m.” I began to get nervous as to what the rest of the night held for us. Little did I know we were getting ready to walk into Southern Tiger Collective … while artists were creating to prepare for their two-year anniversary the following day.

Southern Tiger Collective (STC) holds a physical space in Optimist Park, but the concept can’t be contained by four walls. STC represents a unified collection of art, artists and creative inspiration that is living, breathing, everchanging and limitless. Alex DeLarge, Dustin Moates and Moises Barrientos, the masterminds behind STC has created a meeting place for like-minded artists and creatives to call home, where they can create, grow, and learn with the goal of positively impacting and challenging the larger Charlotte community.

As a non-artist with a disjointed memory but a lover of everything color, I went into sensory shock as soon as I walked through the door. Works of art created by Charlotte’s most talented artists filled every corner of the room from floor to ceiling, something I’ve yet to experience in the eight years that I’ve lived here.

Stoked I had the opportunity to experience art in the process but embarrassed that I did so when I was inebriated, I was happy to carefully put away the memory of my first intimate STC experience and hopefully not see anyone who experienced us for a long while. Wishful thinking.

Just three short weeks later, I bumped into my friends at Southern Tiger Collective again at Pig Wiggle for another mind-blowing experience. A friend of mine had invited me to the event last year during CIAA weekend but at the time I was avoiding Sunday Funday like the plague. This year, I had an itch and I’m so thankful I scratched it.

My Uber pulled up to a familiar hangout, The Blind Pig, but the chaos that was hidden from sight upon entry from the front door was yet another experience that Charlotte hasn’t seen. Justin Zalewski (aka Z) of Blind Pig, along with STC and DJ Boss Austin, put their brains together and curated an event that was bananas.

Pig Wiggle merges art and music into one space in the form of Battle Walls (a brainchild of STC) and a DJ Battle. It’s a straight luxury to witness artists creating with different mediums in front of your very eyes while getting lit.

Until recently, most of us haven’t had many opportunities to witness street artists (or the “guys of night,” as Z so accurately called them) do their thing in broad daylight. We usually go to sleep, wake up and discover a new mural splashed across our Instagrams. But these artists were creating dope walls in the hours that we were spending dancing our asses off to some of the sickest DJs around.

And I’m not talking about the DJs that have to follow the guidelines of your favorite bar or stick to a set featuring Top 40. We’re talking about the DJs who not only operate outside of the box but blow it the eff up when they fully let their hair down.

This is the type of shit that will make you thirsty for more in the Q.C. These types of events are the new wave. They’re pulling the greater Charlotte community from their corners, bringing them together into one place and breathing life back into spaces that we’ve already known in places that are historically recognized for being creative refuges.

The good news is people like these cool ass dudes are on the ground floor of what could be a mecca right in our backyard. These days we’re all hungry for more when it comes to art, music and food in the Queen City, the people behind these events are constantly pushing the boundaries to ensure you’ve always got a plate, so start eating.

Did you know that Queen City Nerve is an alternative print publication with distribution locations all over Charlotte and Mecklenburg County? The Nerve is distributed every other Wednesday and includes feature stories, event and music listings, puzzles and more. Our paper and website are always free, but if you’re feeling kind, you can contribute to our journalism efforts here.

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