Last night was the a balmy respite from the cold snap that blew through the state last weekend, a perfect setting for Urban Tour 2011 on Main Street in downtown Columbia. First Thursdays are held on Main Street after working hours on the first Thursday of each month during nice, seasonable weather. These events are a way to bring people to the heart of downtown Columbia to see it in a way that just isn’t possible from a vehicle while trying to find a parking spot. It began right after work at 5:30, but I didn’t make it out there until a bit after 7, just in time to catch Columbia’s Alternacirque’s mini reprise performance of their Dreams show in the square in front of the art museum.

As always, my favorite portions of their show include the fire performers, so I watched them with great interest and was glad to see them reappear after dark in front of Frame of Mind with some bad ass fire whips. I got a few dark photos of these flame flingers, and really wish I would have gotten some video. Video will never capture seeing their performance in person, so I highly recommend seeking out the circus to watch them in action. Everyone dramatically “OOOOOAHHHH!” and “AAAAH”ed whenever they whipped their fire whips with a loud defiant CRACK that momentarily silenced the buzzing crowds of the night.

Following the show, I went up and down Main Street and saw so many places I never realized even existed in Columbia. The most fascinating place was the Arcade Building, located at Main and Washington Streets. All the times I’ve driven down Main Street and I’ve never even noticed the facade for it. Wish jewelry is located there, as is a hair salon, shoe repair shop, and what appears to be several artists’ studios.  The star of this building is the architecture. I highly recommend stopping by and just walking around and looking at the beautiful details on this building one day when walking around downtown.

(Photo credit: SC Dept. of Archives and History)

The sun was starting to go down at the point, but the temperature remained pleasant and the crowd seemed enthused to just be out enjoying everything around them. Restaurants had carts and grills out on the sidewalk selling food, galleries and businesses had their doors open wide, and music was still in the air as DJs had areas set up for people to get down. Hip crowd that this was, no one was getting down when I passed by a spot obviously set up for dancing with fancy lights and loud beats next to the Tapps building.

Back on the other end of main street, hipsters flooded the streets around the Whig. A quick trip inside confirmed that there was little to no space to even breathe in there, so a trip to Five Guys Flying Saucer the Wild Hare was made, and all was well with the world… until I had to get up and come to work this morning. Speaking of which, it’s time for another cup of coffee.