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Asheville, N.C. after dark

What to do in Asheville, N.C. after dark.  Frommer's top picks for the hippest places in town.
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This pub has a vast array of imported beer. There's never a cover charge, although the club is a venue for live entertainment, including jazz, blues, rock, and alternative rock. Pizza, nachos, salads, and soups are offered. Hours are Monday to Saturday from 11:30 a.m. to 2 a.m., and Sunday from noon to midnight. 42 Biltmore Ave. tel. 828/255-0504.

Club Hairspray
Named after the John Waters camp classic starring the late drag queen, Divine, this club attracts mainly a gay and lesbian crowd but welcomes "open-minded straights" as well. There's a funky bar here along with several pool tables, and downstairs is a cabaret and dance club. Call to inquire about their "special events" for the week. Dancing is usually on the weekends. Technically, this is a private club, but you can gain membership at the door for $5. Open daily at 8 p.m., as late as business warrants. 38N French Broad Ave. tel. 828/258-2027.

Fine Arts Theatre
See first-run, art, and independent films at this elegant Art Deco/Moderne theater. Call for movie titles, times, and ticket prices. No credit cards. 36 Biltmore Ave. tel. 828/232-1536.

Hannah Flanagan's Irish Pub
Asheville's most authentically Irish pub draws after-hours workers who congregate either on an outdoor terrace, surrounded with masonry walls draped with ivy, or inside a woodsy-looking interior that evokes the early 20th century. The pub was named after the owner's grandmother, Hannah Flanagan, whose sepia-toned portrait hangs above the bar. Menu items derive from Irish traditions (corned beef and cabbage, Irish stew laced with Guinness, chargrilled salmon with mashed potatoes and a "wee" dinner salad). Open Monday to Saturday 11:30 a.m. to 2 a.m., Sunday noon to 2 a.m.. 27 Biltmore Ave. tel. 828/252-1922.

Orange Peel Club
This is the focal point of the music scene in Asheville, booking everybody from Bob Dylan to Merle Haggard. Even though the city has a convention center for big acts, a lot of name performers prefer the more relaxed ambience of the Orange Peel. Popular local bands also get exposure here. The building itself was young in 1950, and much of the original architecture remains, including a barrel-vaulted truss ceiling. At the stainless-steel bar, an array of 40 brews is on tap. The dance floor was voted best place in western North Carolina for dancing by the readers of Mountain Xpress. Check for performance times. 101 Biltmore Ave. tel. 828/225-5851. The box office does not take phone orders; call tel. 866/468-7630 instead.

Smokey Tavern
This is Asheville's favorite gay and lesbian tavern. Established in the 1960s, it's the oldest continuously operating bar of any persuasion in Asheville and contains a collection of barroom kitsch that would gladden the heart of any antiques dealer. An amiable crowd of multigenerational drinkers begins tippling every afternoon a few minutes after the place opens. You'll find a pair of pool tables, plenty of local homeowners to ask for advice, and, as the night progresses, enough good-looking local gays to make any visiting queer feel interested. Open daily 4 p.m. till last call at 2 a.m.. 18 Broadway. tel. 828/253-2155.

Vincent's Bar
This two-level beer hall and coffeehouse is Asheville's hip address. You reach it through a small side alley. The live entertainment includes everything from jazz to heavy metal. The coffeehouse offers an alternative atmosphere for those who don't want to join the bar crowd. Cover charge varies. The food includes cold-cut sandwiches and chicken wings. Hours are Sunday to Thursday from noon to midnight, Friday and Saturday from noon to 2 a.m.. 68B N. Lexington Ave. tel. 828/259-9119.

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