Ten best: Things seen at Get Down!Town

by Brian Clarey

College kids?

This past Saturday was the 6th installation of Get Down!Town, the annual street party for the 10,000 or so of the city’s college students. And while the college kids were out in force, there was definitely a large contingent of… let’s just say folks whose college years are a long way back in the rear-view mirror, the YES! Weekly staff included. But that’s cool, especially for the downtown businesses, most of which saw huge crowds during and after the festivities – most college kids are too young to drink and, if memory serves, they don’t have the same buying power as people with jobs.

The Main Stage

Horn-heavy soulsters the Dynamites got the crowd in the mood to groove, followed by a Rusted Root set that carried until late in the evening. The scene before the little stage by the railroad trestle was also rife with remarkable sightings.

Inflatable nudity

Numerous sightings were reported of an inflatable love doll – first making the rounds on Elm Street as the street fair got going and then later among the crowd assembled to watch headliner Rusted Root. Our man on the scene said, “They were tossing her around like a beach ball during the concert.” Sounds like she had a pretty good time.

Zoot suit swingers

A sizable faction of swing dancers, clad in zoot suits and period garb, held forth on the dance floor during the live entertainment, bringing to mind the impromptu performance by the NC A&T step team at Michael Tolcher’s set during the 2005 Get Down!Town. The event remains an opportunity for public spectacle.

It’s a fake baby, baby

Grimsley High School student Nikki Varitimidis brought her infant Willie to the street festival and her friends carried essentials like diapers and a bottle in case the wee one got cranky. “It’s a party baby!” she said. But don’t call DSS just yet – Willie is actually a high-tech doll used in parenting classes. He cries and fusses just like a real baby and the students must figure out how to appease him for their grade.

Segway rides

Michael Posey, owner of Triad Glided Tours, allowed me a few minutes on one of his Segway personal scooters. After a short training session I was ready to plow through the crowd on the thing, but Posey cautioned against any type of reckless driving. “Always safety first,” he said. Still, it was an enjoyable experience, and the vantage point atop the thing allowed me to see the entire crowd on Elm Street. As a result, the Segway scooter has earned a place on my “gots to haves” list.

The YES! Weekly booth

The YES! Weekly staff and promotions team worked overtime, handing out swag like light-up necklaces, temporary tattoos, stickers and our famous cow T-shirts. We went through an astounding volume of freebies, all in the name of brand building, and judging by the ubiquity of the YES! Weekly logo, our people did a fine job.

Free conducting lesson

Across from our booth was a table representing the Greensboro Symphony offering free conducting lessons. I’m a sucker for the free, so I went over to get my baton working. Sheila Cauthen, who was working the booth, told me that the A-list conducting teachers were all checking out the party, but she provided me with a basic introduction to the art. One-two-three-four.

Dance party kids

This cracked me up: a couple of college kids standing in front of the Green Bean shilling for a dance party going on inside. Here’s the funny part: They were standing inside a cardboard box just big enough for the two of them, and they had battery-operated microphones through which they were saying things like “dance party” and “get up the get-down.” They also posed the question, “What comes after part B?” The answer, of course, is “Part A,” or, as the kids like to say, “part-ay.”

The VIP room

Ah, the VIP room. This is what makes events like these so sweet: an upstairs room at Natty Greene’s with free beer and wine and a modest spread of hot and cold hors d’oeuvres. All the movers and shakers were up here – at least I was – and the view of the stage from the outside staircase made it worth the climb.