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Nightlife & Music

CIAA Survival Guide!

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(Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)

(Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)

There are very few weeks in Charlotte that I look forward to more than CIAA. The influx of people, parties, celebrity sightings, and there is always an awesome production taking center stage at the Blumenthal. Let the madness begin!

Indeed, I greet the beginning of CIAA week with a gasp of enthusiasm and a resounding, “Yes!”

Now, no athletic tournament spanning 100 plus years is complete without explicit directives to ensure your continued existence. As thousands of fans descend upon the “Queen City” and events galore seek to seduce both your senses and your wallet, make the most out of your CIAA experience by heeding my careful instructions.

Be Smart With Your Time & Money

Although there are several costly galas going on in the city this week, there are also numerous cost-effective — if not free events to also enjoy. Several day parties offer free admission to those available to party on Thursday and Friday before the sun goes down. The CIAA Toyota Fan Experience at the Charlotte Convention Center has long been a family favorite and it’s free! — Mix it up. The key is to have a good time!

Buy In Advance

Many promoters are giving patrons the option of purchasing tickets in advance for a discount. If the event is something that you know you’re going to want to attend, go on and secure your tickets. Print out a hard copy of your ticket/receipt just in case. Events can be unpredictable so it never hurts to be prepared. If you wait to purchase tickets at the door the price is much higher, not to mention you run the risk of standing outside of a sold-out event.

Don’t Believe the Hype!

It’s no surprise to find your vehicle buried in fliers this week. So, while you’re sifting through the colorful cubes of cardstock take the time to read the fine print. Many parties will feature images of your favorite performers or stars; that doesn’t mean they’re going to perform or even put in an appearance. Read carefully — are they hosting, taking the stage, or simply sipping Champagne in VIP.

Do Your Research

Everyone turns into a party promoter for CIAA week. Avoid falling for bootleg bashes and get rich quick gatherings by looking up the soirees you plan to attend. Check them out online. Facebook, Twitter, promotional company websites, and media outlets — like this one are great sources to get the low-down. Remember: no pictures, no website, no go!

Don’t Move Without Your Buddy

Okay, I pride myself on having an unparalleled sense of independence. I’m not afraid to see a movie alone, eat a meal, or trek to the mountains solo for a long relaxing weekend. So, this goes out to other fearless women that find themselves in route to clubs or night-time events this week. Please don’t neglect the buddy system. Travel in a group or at least with one other person. It would be great to assume that everyone in the “Queen City” this week is a model citizen, but we live in the real world. So hope for the best, but prepare for the worst.

Catch the Light Rail

The majority of the CIAA events take place in uptown Charlotte. All Charlotteans know that uptown travel is full on one way streets, limited parking, and on CIAA weekend wall to wall traffic. It’s not worth the headache. If you’re heading uptown leave your auto behind and embrace the LYNX Blue Line. Affectionately known as the light rail, patrons are allowed to park for free and catch the light rail for $2. Check out http://charmeck.org/CITY/CHARLOTTE/CATS/LYNX/Pages/default.aspx for more information on the LYNX Blue Line.

 You Want To Remember This Festive Occasion…Right?

There is nothing worse than a smashed face man or woman, stumbling down the street, trying to resurrect their last whiff of sobriety. Please, please, know your alcohol limit. This week promises to be tons of fun, but what good does awesome parties, friends, and excitement will do when you can’t recall any of it!

-Jennifer Hall, CBS Local

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