Exploring Durham: Celebrating rites of passage

Jun. 07, 2014 @ 11:10 AM

This month Exploring Durham is looking at places in Durham to celebrate life from a more personal perspective.

For most teenagers, standing in front of a gathering of people for a rite-of-passage ceremony can be a nerve-wracking, awkward and stressful experience. Thankfully, many of these events are followed by a party or celebratory event immediately after. Whether it’s a confirmation into the church, a bar or bat mitzvah or a quinceañera, there are dozens of great places to host these “after event” parties in Durham.

Motorco Music Hall, an adaptively reused auto dealership (hence the name), on the north side of Downtown Durham at the corner of Rigsbee and Geer streets is an ideal facility for a daytime reception for teens and their families. As events around coming-of-age ceremonies, like confirmations, become more theatrical and produced, this music club has all the trappings necessary for an early teenager to be a rock star for a day with his or her friends while also permitting other guests a chance to relax and visit. Motorco even has a restaurant, Parts and Labor, serving renditions of street foods from around the world, as well as comfortable and urban-chic indoor/outdoor spaces to enjoy -- weather permitting.

For some celebrations, traditions play an important role. In the Jewish community, this holds especially true as there are often dietary restrictions that need to be observed. The Levin Jewish Community Center is a relative newcomer to the event venue scene. Located on the same campus as the Lerner School and Judea Reform Congregation, the JCC opened in 2011. In addition to the fitness rooms, gymnasium and pools, there are spaces capable of seating up to 150 for a meal and 200 in auditorium-style seating. The JCC is a kosher facility and has a clearly defined culinary policy to make it welcoming to all who wish to host an event there.

In the Latin-American community, there is a rite of passage for 15-year-old girls called quinceañera. Similar to a debutante ball, this event can have religious overtones depending on the origin of the family celebrating. Bay 7 at the historic American Tobacco Campus contains one of Durham’s best known event venues, perfect for these occasions. Capable of hosting seated meals for up to 400, but perfectly intimate with 200, this landmark facility is elegant day or night, and events there are enhanced by the picturesque campus itself. On the south side of Downtown Durham, Bay 7 at the American Tobacco has ample parking, easy access from highways, and an elevator.

Planning a party for a teenager who has completed a major life event is easier when there are unique and interesting places to host them. Learn more about these facilities, and more, at meetings.durham-nc.com.

Did You Know? For all event planning needs, the Durham Convention & Visitors Bureau keeps a complete list of event venues and their features online at www.durham-nc.com/planners/meetings_events.

The Durham Convention & Visitors Bureau (DCVB) is Durham’s official marketing agency. For more information about things to see and do in Durham, visit www.Durham-NC.com and www.DurhamEventCalendar.com, or stop by the Visitors Information Center at 101. E. Morgan St. in Downtown Durham and pick up the Official Durham Visitor & Relocation Guide.