Thursday, December 21, 2006

Happy Holidays

Happy Holidays party people. I'm out of here until '07.
The New Year's Eve parties are listed on
If you take any good pictures of you and your friends send them to me next week. Have a fun and safe holiday.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Clubbing in black and white

My post about Onyx catering to African American professionals generated so much discussion about segregation in nightclubs that I wanted to address a couple of issues.

Several readers called me racist (they often do) because I was excited about Onyx coming to Charlotte.

I’m not racist. I’m observant.

I have always advocated that people get outside of their box and party with people of all races and styles. I have complained about the lack of hip-hop clubs uptown and the lack of black faces hanging out in uptown bars and clubs. In the last couple of years that has changed. Uptown clubs have more diverse clientele. We have two hip-hop clubs, V-Lounge and Crush. And Time lounge has a night for nearly every ethnic group. (It was the only way for them to stay open, but that’s another column about “going black.”)

The difference is white partiers are typically made to feel as welcome as black partiers at black clubs. However, I receive countless e-mails and have had conversations with professional black men who have been subject to selective enforcement of dress codes or membership rules at other clubs. I also hear from people who say DJs will stop playing hip-hop if a club draws too many black people.

Most uptown clubs cater to white partiers who are age 21 and up, and have at least a college degree and are typically professional.
The other issue I will address is why blacks prefer to go to predominately black clubs. (Same reason whites aren’t bumrushing the V-Lounge, but that makes too much sense).

We all party differently and have different music.

I’ll use Onyx as an example since it sparked this discussion.
They blasted hardcore hip-hop on Saturday. I had heard some of the songs on the radio and I’d never heard of a few of the tunes.
Neither the Men’s Club nor Uptown Cabaret will play that kind of hip-hop.

The dancers at Onyx performed differently than the ones at Men’s Club. Men’s Club dancers, and the ones at other predominately white strip clubs, are more seductive and do a lot of snaky undulating because that is what appeals to the clientele they want to attract. The ones at Onyx, and other black clubs, tend to be more acrobatic and do more pole work because that is what appeals to their clientele.

If you don’t believe me go to the Men’s Club or even Uptown Cabaret (which is a good compromise between a white and a black strip club) and then hang out at Onyx or Champagne for a night. If strip clubs aren’t your thing, try spending a night hanging out at Tempo nightclub and then spend a night partying at Grand Central.

It’s different.

My desire is that people of all races feel welcome at all clubs and that this city offers partiers a healthy mix of clubs and bars. I also want partiers to be willing to experience different places.

The same way we sample new restaurants and try food we don’t usually eat, we ought to be willing to try new clubs and party with people we wouldn’t usually hang out with.

It’s not as scary as you might think.

Monday, December 18, 2006

Onyx's not the Men's Club

I expected Onyx, formerly Rick’s Cabaret, to be a black version of the Men’s Club.

After interviewing the company spokesman, I envisioned Onyx as a place where I’d see black men wearing collared shirts, slacks or at least fitted jeans and nice shoes.

When I arrived about midnight Saturday, the line stretching down the side of the building told me Onyx was no Men’s Club. Men waiting to get inside wore oversized jeans and shirts, ball caps and track jackets.

I thought the men wearing athletic gear would be turned away because they weren’t wearing the proper clothes for an upscale club, but once inside, I realized these men made up the bulk of clientele.

I don’t know how folks party in Houston (home of Rick’s first Onyx club), but the Charlotte crowd wasn’t upscale on Saturday, the finale of a three-night grand opening party. It was the same crowd I’ve seen at Champagne and Peaches and Cream, but at a nicer venue and with better-looking dancers.

Let me clarify: I don’t have a problem with the oversized-jeans and ball-caps crowd. I don’t have a problem with Champagne or Peaches and Cream. But if I’m supposed to be going to an upscale club for professionals, I don’t expect to see patrons who look like they stepped out of a Lil Jon video. Yeeayah!

This crowd tends to be fun, lively and willing to spend money on
dancers and alcohol, but it will also keep the doctors and lawyers away.

With that said, Saturday’s crowd was 70 percent men and 30 percent women (not including the dancers). The manager said the club had about 65 dancers there that weekend. Sitting in the audience, you couldn’t turn around without seeing somebody getting a private dance, and there was also at least one dancer on stage. They ranged from looking so skinny that a bucket of Bojangles would only get them to a size 2 to looking so overweight that Jenny Craig would run away screaming.

The women hailed from a variety of ethnic backgrounds, including white.

Our favorite dancer was Black Ice. She had ebony skin, a fiery red mohawk, a ripped body and a feather getup that was far more creative than the G-strings most women wore. It’s a nice club and a fun crowd, but black professionals will have to be willing to get out of their element if they plan to hang there.

Here’s my question: Am I stereotyping Charlotte’s black professionals? Are most of them willing to party with the white T-shirt crowd whether it’s at a strip club or any other night spot?

Post your replies below.

Also, on Wednesday I will address the uproar I caused when I announced the arrival of Onyx. Several blog readers were upset that Onyx explicitly caters to African-Americans.

This anonymous quote is indicative of several posts: "You are such a hypocrite. If a club that ‘caters to’ white people was opening, you’d be first in line to call that racist. Yet this you celebrate because it is geared towards blacks."

I’ll say this now: Unless a club calls itself a hip-hop club, an urban club, a Latin club or a club for any other ethnic minority, the assumption is that the club caters to white people. But let’s talk about this on Wednesday afternoon.

Thursday, December 14, 2006

TJ on the Ice

We spanked some Checker booty!
Okay, spanked might be strong, but myself Stacey Simms, co-host of Charlotte ’s Morning News, Sharon Thorsland, WBT Sports Reporter, Molly Grantham, WBTV Channel 3 reporter, Tara Servatius, Creative Loafing beat four Checkers.

We cheated a little. Sometimes we held the goalie, other times we moved the goal and at one point Molly actually threw the puck into the net, but hey we won. Plus, none of us got hurt. Wahoo!

We took on the city's professional team in what was billed as Chicks vs. Checks. In interviews the Checkers threatened to take us out. I was scared. Adam Nightingale already had a black eye and busted lip. That didn't bode well for us.

But Daymen Rycroft didn't even respect us enough to take off his sun glasses. I didn't like him.

The first period slow, but by the second period we started body checking the guys. But then they cornered Molly and pinned her against the board. I don't think they were going for the puck.

Keith flew around like a madman and between he and Molly, we got the five goals we needed to win.

See the video online.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Bring on A.I.

We're in the midst of a perfect nightlife storm. There's talk that Allen Iverson might be coming to the Charlotte Bobcats, and a new upscale gentleman's club that caters to African Americans is opening this weekend. Can life get any better?

I’ll start with A.I.

In Tuesday's Observer, Tom Sorensen wrote a column saying Iverson would give Charlotteans a reason to care about the woefully boring Bobcats. I hope Iverson comes here because he will spice up our nightlife.

We've got the Bobcats and the Panthers here, but -- as Sorensen wrote -- none of the Bobcats are stars. And the Panthers' biggest star, Steve Smith, doesn’t party. Iverson brings star power. An A.I./Nelly party easily draws a thousand people here. If Iverson played here, we could draw even more celebrity athletes and hip-hop artists to our nightclubs.

That point brings me to my excitement about Rick's Cabaret becoming Club Onyx on Old Pineville Road. The Charlotte location will be the first outside of Texas. It's about time a city this size has an upscale gentleman's club for African Americans. Champagne and Peaches and Cream are fine when I’m in a roughneck mood. However, when I want more posh atmosphere, I have to go to the Men's Club, and their dancers haven't impressed me lately.

Rick's spokesman Allan Priaulx says the original Onyx in Houston draws professional athletes and rappers. I'm hoping the Charlotte location will do the same.

A.I. combined with Onyx could give our nightlife a good adrenaline rush.
What do you think? Will A.I. enhance our nightlife? Post your replies below.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Lordy, lordy look who's 40! And partying?

Last weekend, I went on a mission to find the best places for the 40 and up crowd. I discovered Mickey & Mooch in Lake Norman and Claiborne's on Beatties Ford Road. I also revisited favorites such as the Excelsior Club and a couple of my co-workers scouted Blue and Rodi. In Friday's E&T, I've listed about a dozen places for the 40 and up crowd, but I'm sure there are places I've missed.

If you are at least 40, please post your favorite place to hang and what makes that club, bar or restaurant special.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Invasion of the yuppies

An article in the local section of today's Observer details how young, educated professionals between the ages of 25-34 are moving to Charlotte in droves. Apparently, a study released by the Metro Atlanta Chamber revealed that we are second behind Las Vegas for the largest increase of young and educated people from 1999-2000.
We didn't need a study to tell us that. Anyone who lives here knows Charlotte is a Mecca for yuppies. I'm more curious about how all of these young, educated professionals are changing our culture, especially our nightlife. When I was an intern here in the early '90s and a young reporter in the mid-'90s, Charlotte's nightlife had some edge to it. The places to hang out ranged from seedy and dangerous to dark and alternative. Park Elevator was the place to be if you liked dance music. The Pterodactyl was popular with the Goth crowd. When Mythos opened on Sixth Street in uptown, it was edgy, too, because it catered to gays, lesbians, straight, Goth and anyone who wasn't too scared to get outside of their box.
Today, our nightlife is polished, almost wholesome.
Park Elevator and Pterodactyl are gone. Mythos became the Forum, which is as mainstream as Jay-Z.
Most of the dance clubs and pubs are concentrated in uptown. Condos and office buildings are gobbling up property and giving the uptown a pristine sheen. All of the dance clubs are glam, except BAR Charlotte (thank goodness for their sticky floors and that tacky bull). The pubs feel so safe; I could bring my grandmother out to party. All of the sports bars feel the same. Every lounge that opens in either uptown or elsewhere wants to be the next Tutto Mondo, and every neighborhood bar wants to be Thomas Street Tavern. On top of all that, we're on track to ban smoking in bars and restaurants.
Safety is good, but a little edge and a lot of diversity makes partying more interesting. Along with all the young professionals who make our economy grow, I hope the city can figure out a way to get more artists, musicians, authors and straight-up weirdoes such as Lil' Shiva, K.C. and the entire CarnEvil crew to funk this city up.
What do you think? Are all of the yuppies moving here making Charlotte's nightlife boring? Post your replies below.

Monday, December 04, 2006

Turmoil at the Spot

The club at Central and Pecan (formerly the Steeple and now the Spot) has had three owners since the last year or so. Soon, it will be looking for a fourth.

According to building owner Jimmy Margiotis, the current tenants weren't paying their rent -- so after they do the court thing, he'll be looking for new tenants for the location.

All of this shook out rather recently. Saturday's burlesque show was hastily moved to the Visulite Theatre.

Microphone Monday's, a hip-hop open mike, has moved to Fire & Ice, which is across the street from the Spot. Tonight is first night for Microphone Monday in the new home (which might also be temporary, more on that in another blog). Doors open at 9:30 p.m. It's free for ladies until midnight. It's $3 and $5 for men. Wolly Vinyl will host.

Here's the lineup:
Silent Hill
The One Kemist
Charles Herron

Open Mic Follows

Were you a regular at the Spot? If so, why don't you think it succeeded? And what would be a good concept for that location to complement the Penguin, Thomas Street Tavern and Dish. Post your replies below.