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I am a huge lover of history and usually jump at the chance to visit any historic sites when I travel. What I didn’t realize about Charleston, South Carolina is that I would be walking into a history book. To be perfectly honest, I didn’t do much research before traveling to Charleston. Sometimes I like to visit a destination without any expectations.
One of the first things I did when I arrived was jump on a walking tour. Bulldog Tours organizes a variety of tours including haunted history, culinary and LGBTQ history tours, so of course that is the one I chose. My knowledgeable guide Zach and I spent two hours strolling around downtown Charleston visiting many of the historic sites of the city while he recanted tales of the city’s harsh past. He also included some LGBTQ historical facts, and we visited some significant sites along the way.
Charleston, South Carolina - Pride Journeys youtu.be
Charleston was one of only three walled cities in North America and the historic society has imposed some of strictest rules and regulations in the country to ensure that the city remains well-preserved. Charleston sits on a peninsula surrounded by two rivers which lead to the Atlantic Ocean, so it became one of the earliest port cities in the country due to its geography. It is also extremely walkable, giving it a European feel. I was able to walk almost everywhere I visited with the exception of a few off-the-beaten path restaurants.
A person can’t visit Charleston without learning about its controversial past. Given its location as I described earlier, the city was a key port that was responsible for the sale and transport of enslaved Africans. Numerous plantations still exist throughout the region including McLeod Plantation, a former slave plantation located on James Island. The plantation is considered an important Gullah heritage site, preserved in recognition of its cultural and historical significance to African-American and European-American cultures. The plantation grounds include slave cabins, a gin house, and gardens. The property has served in many capacities over the years including a Confederacy Hospital, a burial ground for slaves and Union soldiers, and a headquarters office for the Freedmen's Bureau.
Touring a plantation can be emotionally draining, so after grabbing a quick bite at Leon’s Oyster Shop, head to the South Carolina Aquarium to lighten the mood. My main reason for visiting this aquarium was to tour its renowned sea turtle hospital and rehabilitation center. Guests are given the chance to learn about all of the turtles at the center including how they were injured as well as their path the recovery and ultimate release back into the ocean. The aquarium also features a wonderful stingray touch pool where guests can feed the rays. I’ve done this activity many times in the past, but I can’t remember the last time the rays were so excited and friendly.
After a long day of touring the city, head to The Loutrel, a brand-new boutique hotel in the heart of downtown Charleston. The elegantly appointed property is conveniently located to almost every attraction in the city and just a block away from the City Market. The 50-room property has a 24-hour fitness center, mezzanine level where friends can gather and enjoy complimentary snacks and beverages as well as a rooftop patio boasting panoramic views of the city. My corner room contained a living area, large bedroom with king-size bed and a bathroom complete with a walk-in shower. The property is so new, I am pretty confident that I may have been the first guest to stay in that particular room. After a quick wardrobe change, grab a signature cocktail at Veranda Lounge before heading out for the evening.
For dinner, check out The Grocery, about a 25-minute walk from the hotel. Begin your meal with the Marinated Beet, served with Granny Smith apple, walnut, feta, and herb-tahini yogurt. The restaurant prides itself of its fresh produce and this dish was a testament to their vision. If you visit with family or friends, I recommend sharing the Lowcountry Seafood Pilau, basically Charleston’s version of paella, served with shrimp, clams and fried fish over a bed of rice.
Charleston is home to one LGBTQ bar, so after dinner at The Grocery, head over to Dudley’s on Ann, the oldest gay bar in the city. The space hosts drag performances throughout the week as well as a small dance floor.
Even though there is only technically one LGBTQ nightlife venue in the city, the people of Charleston are pretty laid back and non-judgmental. It has an East Coast sophistication and many of the locals told me they feel comfortable expressing affection in non-LGBTQ specific establishments as well.
I had the opportunity to speak with Harlen Greene, a local historian and archivist who most recently began a project to collect materials and documentation about Charleston’s LGBTQ history. “Charleston prides itself in its history but sells various versions of its history to people,” Green mentioned. “History is an elite club, so finally LGBTQ people came and started telling me about their history.”
In 2018, an initiative called The Real Rainbow Row was launched, to collect photographs, diaries, memoirs, religious and institutional records, as well as Pride, bar, and other items related to Charleston’s LGBTQ history. Input and suggestions from individuals regarding archival materials and oral histories are eagerly sought and tax-deductible financial contributions are necessary to keep the project active.
Wake up early the next morning and enjoy the complimentary breakfast as The Loutrel before setting out to explore the city. I suggest heading south from the hotel as that is where many of the stately mansions are located. As you get closer to the tip of the peninsula, the houses become grander in stature. Swing by Rainbow Row, a collection of 13 colorfully painted homes along East Bay Street. It isn’t a gayborhood unfortunately, but it does make for some wonderful Instagram photos. End your tour at Riley Waterfront Park, home of the city’s iconic Pineapple Fountain.
Before you depart Charleston, stop by Rodney Scott’s BBQ for a taste of true South Carolina BBQ. The award-winning establishment is home to delicious melt-in-your-mouth BBQ and is famous for their pulled pork. I decided to try a little of everything, but given how much I walked on this trip, I decided to treat myself.
To book your Charleston gaycation, visit www.Orbitz.com/Pride
The DJ-production drag duo known as Jawbreakers is asking people to take "Just a Taste" of their upcoming EP. That flavorful sample called "Boyfriend" is available now on digital platforms. If you're thinking, hey, didn't Ashlee Simpson have a song of the same name back in 2005? Yes, she did, but this version is a lot more club-friendly with an EDM edge.
The creative process has many layers as most dance songs do these days. It begins with the Jawbreakers producing the music then finding a voice to sing it. In this case, Amunda, formerly of the Australian group Operator Please. The song dismisses its punk roots and evolves into a banger bop with dancefloor disco sass much like its producers.
Kali Forni-Kate and Sabrina Babyslut are those producers and they call themselves Jawbreakers. But you can just call them Kali and Sabrina. Both are in their twenties but refuse to say on which end of the scale. What's abundantly clear is their love of pop culture and tapping into nightclub synergy.
They both live in Melbourne, Australia, or Naarm, as it is called by those who wish to respect traditional Aboriginal names. Kali lives in the southern area where modern artists and modern history collide. That is where the iconic Chapel Street is located. It's known for its shops, restaurants, and popular gay districts. Although they live a stone's throw away from each other, they always end up together.
"There’s a bunch of queer venues and events happening frequently and honestly any venue that books us and supports and uplifts the queer community is iconic in my opinion," Sabrina said.
JawbreakersAndrew Van Dorsselaer
Their pronouns are she and her when in drag, and they and him when out of it. We will refer to them mostly in the former for the purposes of this article. But ultimately they hate labels, "We both identify as queer and slowly trying to move away from labels as much as possible regardless of whether we are in or out of drag."
The two have been friends going on six years. They met each other while doing a Britney Spears tribute show at the deco-inspired historic Greyhound Hotel, now sadly demolished.
There’s a four-to five-year age gap between them; they met when Sabrina was 18 and Kali was 23. "I think we were surprised how instantly we clicked and that we had so much in common for a millennial and Gen Z," they explain. "From there we were inseparable pretty much trying to incorporate each other into every gig and then the rest is history."
In school, Sabrina studied costume design and music theory and she's played saxophone ever since she was seven years old.
Kali was a track and field athlete who admits to being, "a Uni drop out studying musculoskeletal therapy. I also love waterskiing, kneeboarding, and to be honest, still into Pokemon Go," she smirks.
Eventually they let their love of music and style win out over everything else. That makes sense because both have music in their blood. "I dead ass was in primary school listening to sonatas on my iPod Touch but I would listen to literally any genre of music as long as it was on 'Glee,'" said Sabrina who loves how technology has progressed the medium."Music has become a lot more synthesized but people have leaned into that embracing the electronic sounds."
"My dad is a jazz musician," adds Kali, "and mum was a dancer. [My] Sister was an opera singer so I grew up in a very musical industry going to interstate jazz festivals---and I played piano. I went through my pop diva 'Britney Spears in the zone phase,' to my emo My Chemical Romance phase and got my first Ministry of Sound CD when I was 10 years old, which is insane because I had so many CD’s with John Course’s name on them, and now [I'm] supported by his record label."
Which brings us to their latest project: the "Just a Taste" EP and their first single from that album, "Boyfriend." With so much creativity in their vains and drive in their hearts it's curious why they would choose to make an EP that averages four tracks per album rather than the longer format with three-times that.
"'With this EP we’re showing a few different sides of our musical personality ranging from pure pop to more club focused songs and we really wanted to give the listeners ‘Just A Taste’ and use this EP as a metaphorical tasting platter," they explain. The idea is to show their audience they are musically diverse, but still have something succinct. "Since this is our first body of work we're putting out, it would be risky to do a full album. It's better to dip your toe in and see what works and what needs tweaking before releasing an album, which is a huge undertaking."
Andrew Van Dorsselaer
Once they had the music track for "Boyfriend" laid down, they needed to find a singer who could not only bring a freshness to the vocals, but also understood what the DJs were trying to do. Upon the advise of Joel Siviour from Seismic Talent, they found that female voice in Amunda, an indie artist who used to sing for the popular Australian band Operator Please.
"Since the original track is a pop rock song from the 2000s we knew we needed something in that realm, so when we were introduced to Amunda we knew it would be the perfect fit because she herself had some big hits with Operator Please which had that pop/alt/rock kinda vibe to it. The track was pretty much done before we sent it to her and we were just looking for a topline and when she agreed to be a part of the project we let her have free reign with the topline and we were so obsessed with what she came back with!"
The completed project was perfect they say. "Boyfriend" is the epitome of who they are, "it’s a high energy dance track that just makes you want to get up and party and have fun! It shows how much we love pop culture referencing the iconic queen Ashlee Simpson but how we recontextualized the track for today's music climate. In the music video you truly get to see us and become part of (what I like to call) the Jawbreaker Cinematic Universe which is just this bubble gum pop world we live in and serve some iconic Y2K looks and be the biggest Y2K divas we can be."
Andrew Van Dorsselaer
That's no exaggeration. The video which recently released on YouTube proves it. Bubblicious colors, mod culture designs and 60s era couture, Jawbreakers is just like Kali's Pokedex: ready to evolve. Groovy chic and pink hair showcase the talent of these pop rocks. And the land down under is eating them up.
"The LGBTQIA+ community in Australia is sooo supportive," Sabrina says. "Every city has such an uplifting community that gets behind their up-and-coming artists in queer spaces. From painting, to acting---the sex and drag industry---the community is so insanely supportive. Like, we couldn’t imagine being straight because like there's no community and they don’t hype each other like the LGBT community does."
Jawbreakers is only beginning their reign. With "Girlfriend" finished and the "Just a Taste" EP dropping on April 1, 2022, the duo are poised for stardom. They aren't taking anything for granted either.
"We also have been so lucky to be offered some incredible gigs that are coming up this year. Now that borders are open we are about to head on an Aus tour starting at St Kilda Fest, and then heading on the Summer Camp Tour with a killer queer lineup. We also plan to get back in the studio and keep making new music. We truly are just ready to make the most out of all the opportunities we have been blessed with and do the most to make anyone who has supported us proud."
You can listen to Jawbreakers' debut single "Boyfriend" on digital music platforms and watch the video below.
Their full EP "Just a Taste" will release on April 1, 2022.
Jawbreakers - Boyfriend (ft. AMUNDA) (Official Music Video) www.youtube.com
Mental health impacts how you think and feel, affecting all aspects of your life. It also determines how you handle your stress and make important choices. Having good mental health is important for all ages, from children to elders. Here are the most effective ways to boost your mental health.
Staying positive may be easy when you're happy, but it gets more difficult as you encounter stress. Staying positive is something you'll have to learn how to do, but it gets easier with time. Ultimately, it's up to you to see the silver lining when something stressful happens. For example, if you lose your job, you might consider it an opportunity to find a career you enjoy.
Staying positive is all about balancing positive and negative emotions, but it doesn't mean you won't ever feel down. It's important to feel your emotions so you can address them and move past them. However, how you manage those emotions once you feel them depends on you.
Practicing gratitude allows you to actively acknowledge the good things in your life. Practicing gratitude might look different for everyone, but it's typically easiest to keep a gratitude journal that you write in every day. Your journal can be a list of everything you're grateful for, including your family, friends, pet, and even coffee. Don't worry about repeating things in your journal; it's important you continuously recognize the things that make you happy.
Practicing gratitude allows you to see your life in a different light. When you take the time to sit down and think about things that make you happy, you can focus on the positive instead of the negative.
Get into the habit of practicing gratitude by writing in a journal for at least five minutes a day. In addition, writing in your journal at night can help you relieve stress so you can easily fall asleep. t your job, so you must do something you love or have a passion for—being at a job you despise can make you feel like you're wasting your life, which can make you feel depressed. Additionally, having a stressful job can impact your mental and physical health.
If you find yourself feeling drained just at the thought of going to work, consider why your job situation makes you feel down. You might find that you enjoy your job but have a toxic workplace. No matter the case, it's up to you to get out of any job situation that makes you feel stressed or burned out.
Setting goals gives you something to work towards. Then, when you accomplish those goals, you'll feel a sense of purpose that's unbeatable. Setting goals gives you a reason to get up in the morning and stay productive and active all day long. Your goals can be career-based, health-based, or even home-based. For example, you can have a goal for weight loss while also having one to get a promotion by the end of the year.
Whatever your goals are, make sure you also set an action plan that helps you accomplish those goals. You may even have to break your goals up into smaller goals so you can keep accomplishing small tasks until you reach the ultimate goal.
Spend Time With Others
Even if you're an introvert, spending time with others can boost your mental health because it allows you to take your mind off of other things going on. Not only that but your friends and family are your support network, so you'll always have someone to talk to when you're feeling stressed.
Don't Forget About Your Physical Health
Taking care of your physical health can improve your mental health. Your body and mind are connected; the other will be impacted when one doesn't feel well. You can focus on your physical health by:
- Being active
- Getting quality sleep
- Eating well
Find a Purpose
Giving yourself a purpose in life will allow you to wake up feeling energized. Not to mention, it allows you to find something you're passionate about so you can feel connected to the world and yourself. Your purpose in life won't be the same as someone else's. For example, your purpose in life might be your pets or children, while someone else's will be their passion for their hobbies or career.
If you don't know what your purpose is yet, spend time thinking about the things you enjoy. Many people find careers they're excited about while others wake up so they can enjoy their hobbies. It doesn't matter what your purpose is; just make sure it gives you a reason to wake up every day and helps you manage daily stresses.
Take Care of Others
Focusing on others allows you to get out of your head. Whether you volunteer at the local pet shelter or take care of your grandmother, you'll have something to do that makes you feel connected. Not only that, but you'll be able to keep a schedule of helping others that not only makes you feel good but helps others.
Reconsider Your Job
You spend eight or more hours a day at work. If you notice that you've been feeling anxious or depressed for a while, it might be time to seek help from a psychologist or an in person or telepsychiatrist. These professionals can help you learn how to cope with stress while providing you with medication to improve potential chemical imbalances. Seeing a professional is not something to be ashamed about; it's something you should be proud of. Getting the help you need can improve your life and make you feel happier.
Boosting Your Mental Health
There are many ways to boost your mental health. It's up to you to find the ways that work best based on your schedule and needs. For example, while getting a puppy can give you a sense of purpose, it's not a good idea if you're never home. Finding ways to improve your mental health might take experimentation, but you can find something that truly works for you with a little patience.
About the Author
Marné Amoguis holds a B.A. in International Business from UC San Diego. She is a contributing writer at 365businesstips.com where she loves sharing her passion for digital marketing. Outside of writing, she loves traveling, playing music, and hiking.
Did you know January 27 is National Chocolate Cake Day?
According to Google, the history of chocolate cake goes back to 1764, when Dr. James Baker discovered how to make chocolate by grinding cocoa beans between two massive circular millstones. A popular Philadelphia cookbook author, Eliza Leslie, published the earliest chocolate cake recipe in 1847 in The Lady's Receipt Book.
Many of us would love chocolate cake the be celebrated every day of the year, but to officially celebrate its national day, a Chandler-based restaurant, The Double Dutch Kitchen and Cocktails, is offering a free slice of its handmade Chocolate Cake with the purchase of a sandwich or entree.
Their chef-crafted chocolate cake is topped with white chocolate and berry coulis. The Double Dutch Kitchen and Cocktails is a locally owned and operated New American gastropub serving comfort food with a modern and elegant twist. It is located at 1890 W Germann Rd # 1, Chandler, AZ 85286.
For more information about The Double Dutch, please visit www.thedoubledutchaz.com or call (480) 758-5856.