Let's be honest - not many towns do Thursday nights like we do.
Stroll Broughton and Congress on "Savannah's Friday" and you'll find soul dancing, bluegrass jams and the most impassioned karaoke east of the Mississippi, where your to-go cup runneth over with cheap PBR (Murphy's Drink & Drown, anyone?), and it seems like everyone you've ever met in this town is sharing a streetside slice of pepperoni pizza or gettin' down to some Marvin Gaye right next to you.
As a longtime Thursday gallivanter, I found it hard to believe that my weekday routine could be improved (believe me, I've got bar- and show-hopping down to a science).
Then I was suddenly being shown through the Lucas Theatre's side door, disorientedly rounding corners until I was standing right in front of the grand red velvet curtain, staring out at rows and rows of empty seats and the Lucas's famous gilded ceiling.
The new Speakeasy Cabaret Thursday nights only allow up to 100 people inside. It's great for mingling with old friends and meeting new people in the close, offbeat environment.
Admission gets you a good two hours of music and the distinctly Savannah experience of directly engaging with historic preservation efforts by getting to admire the Lucas from another point of view while literally being a part of the performance you came to enjoy.
Local actors, writers, musicians, socialites and Lucas Theatre regulars gathered around small tables and on couches, enjoying this rare view of the open theater.
As bottles of wine, brought from home, were uncorked and everyone settled comfortably into their places, Velvet Caravan arrived with enthusiastic applause, entering from the green room and meandering through the crowd to the top of the stage.
"Welcome to The Lucas, a place where you can drink on stage!" Ricardo Ochoa, violinist for Velvet Caravan, announced.
He pointed out his bandmates, clad in black, as blazers were tossed off-stage dramatically and sleeves rolled up.
"We're gypsies. Or wannabe gypsies," he offered with a wry grin.
Ochoa led with over-the-top antics, poking good-natured fun at the rest of the band while shredding his violin among the audience to the viewers' delight.
The interaction among members and the ease with which they play together made the show - percussionist Jesse Monkman slapping Eric Dunn's upright bass for a beat, Ochoa and pianist Jared Hall cheekily bellowing the lyrics to select songs.
Two sets packed with Django Reinhardt numbers (and a detailed oral history of the icon's life and legacy by Ochoa) were sprinkled with American classics like "Summertime," featuring Roger Moss (he has his own Speakeasy Cabaret show June 27 with Trae Gurley, Cat Yates and Kim Steiner), "All of Me," and even a nod to "Smoke on the Water."
I enjoyed a few shrimp from my appetizer plate for the first few songs before hitting the dance floor in the company of folks who have obviously been to ballroom classes, along with plenty of people like me who were just attempting to keep time with Monkman's cajon.
Will I see Velvet Caravan for free while enjoying a black-eyed pea cake at B. Matthews?
Will I pay $20 to see them in the opulent Lucas?
When five of Savannah's most skilled musicians deem their genre "European redneck music," you know you're in for an unforgettable treat. Even if the only Django you know is a Tarantino character, you'll be charmed by the lighthearted, hard-playing dedication of Ochoa, Hall, Monkman, Dunn and Sasha Strunjas.