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The Hidden Gem of Myrtle Beach: Charlie’s Place!

The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.
This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at Coastal Carolina chapter.

Myrtle Beach is always known for its sky wheel and countless attractions. What is never addressed is the rich history that lies within it. Recently, I got the chance to visit Charlie’s Place! This place was lively and exciting in the past, but it slowly turned into a forgotten history for locals. Charlie’s Place is an example of how the Myrtle Beach area flourished with music and entertainment.

Alfreda Funnye, Coordinator of Charlie’s Place said, “We hear about the parks and Martin Luther King, but stories like this help shape different, small sectors of our country.”

Dr. Wendy Weinhold, the faculty advisor for The Chanticleer, is working with the Center for Inclusive Excellence on a project that shines a light on historical markers around the Conway and Myrtle Beach area. The center’s theme, “Narratives of Democracy” focuses on ways to change the usual perspectives of history. 

Weinhold plans to create a radio show segment with student fellows and hopes to display content that educates the local area. Their first segment would dive into the history of Charlie’s Place.

From the 1930s through the 1960s, black musicians could not perform and reside in some spaces like white musicians. Charlie’s Place was a nightclub for performers like Billie Holiday and Otis Redding, but also served as a haven for people that needed a place to stay.

In their early days, the nightclub and motel was the only place mentioned under Myrtle Beach in the green book for black travelers. Funnye says Charlie’s Place was a part of the Chitlin Circuit and stood for a deeper meaning in the past.

“It is like the castaways, the throwaway people, the throwaway artists where they’re making something out of nothing,” Funnye says. “They weren’t treated fairly, weren’t able to travel, some tour buses were bombed.”

I thought this was really interesting because of how it intertwined with my understanding of black culture. Chitlin is classified as parts of a pig and is often served at any function. Personally, I hate the smell and taste of it, but I thought it was just something we cook every year. Little did I know that it was tied to the depth of slave history and how they were treated. Chitlin was known to be the least desired. So, even though I think it is the worst food, it was the only thing some slaves could eat. It was such an eye-opener and gave me a glimpse of what wasn’t being taught in schools. 

Even though there were a lot of negative things happening around the area, Charlie’s Place presented something new for the world to see.

One manager, Cynthia Howard, always used to dance in the club. She moved in different motions and encouraged others to dance too. Her dancing introduced new forms of dance that were later shaping the definition of beach music.

Some of the iconic dance moves were: the Jitterbug, Swing, and even the Shag. This was the start of something that changed the outlook for Myrtle Beach. It is just a shame that it isn’t as popular as it once was. The number of people who still aren’t aware of this rare treasure is astronomical, but I hope that it all changes soon.

Charlie’s Place is now being used as a museum for local history and is extending its motel area as a business incubator! There are countless meetings being held there and the Jazz Festival of Myrtle Beach is always hosted at the establishment! The festival is free to the public and it gives you a chance to hear the mesmerizing sounds of jazz while engaging with the property that gifted the area with music in the first place. So, if you are ever in the area, check out this historical marker and be prepared to have your mind blown.
For more information, you can check out the city’s website: https://www.cityofmyrtlebeach.com/i_want_to/find/charlies_place.php

Dyneira Brown

Coastal Carolina '23

Dyneira is a Broadcast Journalism Communication Major with a Minor in Marketing at Coastal Carolina University. She is a Peer Leader, Research Fellow, and is on the Student Advisory Committee for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion! She is a captain of the Chanticleer Regiment Marching Band. Dyneira loves Marvel movies/shows and aspires to have a career in the media field!