Category Archives: Grant Park/Cabbagetown

What do you do in a Basement?

            Rainbow-colored laser lights and theatrical fog scintillate through the thick throng of sweaty bodies. Two cobalt-clad girls pop their intertwined bodies in perfect synchronization, while one man in a wheelchair receives a lap dance from whom I surmise is a stranger. Unconventional electronic dance music vibrates from the powerful subs on the small stage to the enthralled audience.

“We do it for the love y’all,” one DJ alongside Amerigo Gazaway exclaims.

For $10 per ticket and free parking, the Binary EDM mini festival at The Basement was very reasonable for the customers, but probably not for the DJs or employees of the music venue.  While club scenes generally generate a large portion of their money from booze, and despite offering a full bar, water was mostly the only beverage consumed.

“It’s a great venue,” Nate Kieser, a professional photographer and venue promoter, says of The Basement, “very up and coming.”

Since its opening in 2011, The Basement has hosted alternative DJs and live bands several nights a week. The concert venue is located in East Atlanta, a few miles from the Bohemian enclave of Little Five Points.

The neighborhood of late-night bars and closely packed houses is gritty, but the people are very friendly. Immediately upon finding The Basement, which is literally the basement of the Graveyard Tavern, I was greeted by several members of the friendly staff. In fact, the majority of the people I met were working the mini festival at The Basement.

“It was even more dead earlier,” says Michael Straub, who operates an LED accessory vendor called Man Cave through Amazon. There were roughly 50 people in the venue by the end of the night. Straub adds, “This is the only kind of crowd I can sell this stuff to.”

The Basement may not be an overflowing, trendy Atlanta nightclub, but it is an up and coming Atlanta hippie music scene. There was mostly an alternative EDM crowd you might expect at Electric Forest. A few underage kids in matching striped tank tops and Wayfarer sunglasses trickled in, but none made it until the end of the night. The music enthusiasts meandered aimlessly around The Basement as if it were their own.

Lounge seating, pool tables, arcade machines, and a full bar are all scattered throughout the venue. Graffiti, like “you are beautiful” and “stop fucking musicians,” is written on almost all available spaces. Skeleton figurines sat among the many beer bottles behind the bar. The concrete floor is surprisingly clean, but the bathroom is nightmarish— it doesn’t even have a sink.

The center of gravity is the dance floor. Most of the people were exceptionally talented at breakdancing or twerking, while the other people were free and unpretentious with their movements. Both types of dancing are engaging to watch.

A 60-year old couple, a lesbian couple, and a bi-racial couple were among the diverse, and extremely welcoming, crowd. At least a third of the people approached me to actually initiate a conversation. At many club scenes in Atlanta people are too busy spilling their drinks and staring at their phones to dance or talk to new people.

In contrast to venues like Opera, The Basement isn’t well advertised. While the non-traditional spirit of the devotees of EDM suggests they wouldn’t want it to be too publicized, the venue would benefit from some additional attention.

“I found it on Facebook,” Straub says, “I’d never even heard of it before this event.”

The Basement deserves recognition simply because, besides the quirky vibe, it has an excellent sound stage. A variety of EDM culture was represented with bass, jam, dubstep, TRAP, glitch, hip-hop, live-electronics, and jam. The all-around atmosphere of The Basement is progressive.

“At least one more hour!” one fan yells in response to the ending show. The newly formed circle of friends appear sincerely saddened to leave.



Cemeteries are for lovers, too

It’s a Saturday afternoon and you’re wracking your brain to come up with a cool, fun, and, let’s be honest, cheap date for your special someone. Then, suddenly, an epiphany: Oakland Cemetery! The most romantic spot in Atlanta, right?

Or, maybe you’re thinking, “Never would I ever bring a date to a place filled with creepy dead people and their creepy ghosts.”

These ghosts are more cute cartoon than creepy. But there sure are a lot of them.

But, Oakland Cemetery is a pretty awesome place. Founded in 1850, Oakland is the final resting place for a lot of famous, and not-so-famous, Atlantans, including Gone With the Wind author Margaret Mitchell, golfer Bobby Jones, and Atlanta’s first African American mayor, Maynard Jackson.

Oakland is a public cemetery, meaning that, for a while, every Atlanta citizen was buried there. Those who either did not or could not purchase a family plot were buried in a 7.5-acre area known as Potter’s Field. Admittedly creepy factor: A Georgia State geological study conducted in the 1970’s revealed 17,000 bodies buried in the field, laid next to and on top of one another. Although strange to think that if the dead did walk in Atlanta then 17,000 would rise from the same spot, Oakland Cemetery is impressive.

The cemetery is located on the southeast side of the city, just a few blocks from the King Memorial MARTA station. It’s situated between Grant Park and Cabbagetown.

Walking through the cemetery is like walking through the city’s history. And, after a century and a half, Oakland Cemetery has seen Atlanta through some pretty major changes, most notably its massive population growth. When the cemetery was founded, Atlanta’s population neared 2,500. Today, more than 420,000 people call Atlanta home.

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Not only does Oakland Cemetery have a historical cool factor, it’s a beautiful park in its own right. The cemetery’s caretakers have gone to painstaking efforts to ensure that Oakland and its gardens age gracefully.

Back in the day, families tended to their own plots and planted their own flowers. Today, all of Oakland’s 38 acres of gardens are tended by three good-hearted ladies and a band of weekend volunteers with some serious green thumbs.Throughout the year, they plant and prune among the headstones and green spaces, resulting in a truly beautiful patchwork of gardens that just happen to grow near some dead people.

Huge, ornate mausoleums framed by rose bushes and perfectly pruned shrubs sit among small, humble (and sometimes hilariously inscribed) headstones and fragrant flowerbeds.  The gardens at Oakland make for a fascinating, pretty, and peaceful stroll through the cemetery on a sunny afternoon.

And totally not scary. Or morbid.


Seriously, consider Oakland as a fun, free date option. Just maybe stick to the rules and get out of there by dusk, or, you know, your date may surprise you with a zombie flash mob. But if you’re into that sort of thing, that’s cool, too.


 For more information on Oakland Cemetery, including directions and park hours, click here.

How to best tailgate a Braves game

The ideal college schedule doesn’t include Friday classes, and if you’re one of the lucky Atlanta college students who sleep in on Fridays, a worthy way to spend those free Friday afternoons is going to a Braves game. These guidelines will ensure that you’ll have the ultimate experience at Turner Field.

First, you should arrive about five hours prior to first pitch so that you’ll have time to savor your tailgate. Prime parking where grilling is allowed is near the YMCA on Pryor Street and it’s only an eight-minute walk from the ballpark. Grilling is also permitted in the grassy areas of the Braves Blue Lot—which have shady trees and tables as well.

A view from Sec 401L Seat 12. Photo by Wikimedia User Zpb52
A view from Sec 401L Seat 12. Photo by Wikimedia User Zpb52

Early arrival is important for tailgaters who double as avid baseball fans because batting practice begins nearly three hours before game time, according to the Braves’ website. If you’re hoping to catch a home run ball during batting practice, Kurt Smith, the author of Baseball Park E-Guides, believes the premier place to stand is left field because the majority of hitters are right-handed.

If you have minimal interest in snagging a souvenir, an alternate spot to watch from is the Chop House, a restaurant that offers a wide variety of menu items and overlooks centerfield. There, you can try some of The Ted’s ballpark food after warm-ups. Other the Chop House grub, Smith says his favorite dish is the Georgia Dog and it can be bought at any of the Top Dog Express stands.

Buying a Skyline ticket, which is for seating at the highest row, is just a dollar and can save cash. After the third inning, ushers allow fans to move seats without much trouble if there are available spots, according to Smith. The same practice can be used in the lower level to move very close to the field, but ushers operate more strictly closer to the field.

Turner Field will be demolished in 2017 and then Friday afternoon trips to a Bravos game from Emory will be an entirely different process. But for now, you can follow these words of advice and you are sure to maximize your spectator experience.

At the bottom you will find a map giving directions from Emory to the parking lot that Smith named as a great parking option near the YMCA.