Friday, March 03, 2006

Charlotte vs. Raleigh

I took an informal survey while party-hopping today to see which city CIAA fans liked better.

The reaction was mixed. Some people said Raleigh was better and was way more hype than Charlotte. And several said the crowd seemed smaller. Others said they liked Charlotte better because everything was centralized.

Most people said parking was horrible. Everyone said the city of Charlotte has been extremely hospitable. One guy said even the cops were nice. (What! Just kidding Mr. Policeman.)

"Charlotte seemed like they laid out the red carpet for us," said Fred Jones, 39, of Maryland. "It looks like Charlotte, they're trying to get this here for many more years."

Andre Willingham of New York said he liked Raleigh better. Then he reeled off a list of bars and parties that he said were jumping by Friday afternoon during the tournament in Raleigh.

The problem with Charlotte, several people said, is that it's a new city and there are so many events going on.

"Once people find their way, Charlotte is going to be off the hook," said Derek Morris of Richmond. "It's going to be better than Raleigh."

What do you think? How does Charlotte compare to Raleigh so far? Post your replies below.

Shaking that thang before sun down

Men and women grooved on the dance floor inside Liquid Lounge. Others stood alongside the bar talking. Across the street at the Gold Pepper Grill, about 25 people talked and cut up. Strangers became fast friends.

It was 4 p.m. on Friday, and while most Charlotteans were at work, CIAA fans were hanging out at the storied "day party."

These partiesoften start typically by noon and last a couple of hours. They're a warm up before the bigger gigs later in the evening. Some are free, others have open bars or free food.

The Q92 party at Liquid was more of a club gathering with people dancing to DJ Live. The crowd was a mix of young and old partiers, something you only see here at the Excelsior Club and Savoy. Derek Morris sat with Mike Gray and Joe Taylor. The men, who hail from Baltimore and Virginia, hadn't seen each other in years and finally connected at the club.

"It's all about a reunion," Morris said. "We're going to find each other."

Heather Headley was blazing

I’ve been rocking Heather Headley’s new disc, “In My Mind,” but I didn’t have any desire to see her live. I figured she sounded good on the disc, but would be average live.
After seeing her perform during the Steve Harvey Show’s live radio broadcast, I’ll be the first person in line to buy tickets to see her live.
The woman can sing and she’s gorgeous to watch on stage. She sang “In My Mind” and “What Would You” off her latest album, but it was the impromptu version of “He Is” that won me over.
She sang with such conviction and passion. Harvey was on his feet playing air bass, and fans gave her a standing ovation. She only had a couple of background singers with her today, but I hear she’s even better with a live band. I can’t wait.

Steve Harvey's staying

I'm not sure what was the funniest part of Steve Harvey's live broadcast this morning, but I know it happened during Harvey's version of "American Idol."

A contestant from Shelby sang "Misty Blue," which Harvey called brown liquor music and too depressing for early morning. Harvey gave her a chance to sing something uplifting. She suggested "Lean On Me." He took her mike and ripped on how "Lean On Me" wasn't a cheery song. Then he started singing "Sometimes, in our life..." in the most monotone voice ever.

My other favorite part involved Harvey's co-host Nephew Tommy. He and one of the contestants started reciting lines from the "Color Purple" and within minutes the audience had joined.

"Sat in that jail 'til I damn near rot too death," said Tommy reciting Sophie's line. The contestant started singing "Miss Celie's Blues." Then Tommy jumped in with "God Is Trying to Tell You Something."

Moments like that are what made the live broadcast fun. Sitting in the audience, you felt as if you could have been in your living room with friends and family. There was cussing, fussing, cracking and singing. Harvey also dispensed his bits of wisdom.
"You need a man," Harvey told one woman. "Get some stress in your life."

Fans turned out to see Harvey. By 4:30 a.m. people were lined up outside the Convention Center, according to a V101.9 staffer. Inside, several thousand fans sat in chairs that went all the way back to the basketball court. Others stood along side near the vending area. Harvey said he was having so much fun that he planned to extend his stay until Sunday. He wants to go to Magic Johnson's party on Saturday and attend a few of the basketball games.

"This is hands down the biggest turnout we've ever seen," Harvey said in an interview after the show. "I was stunned."

The Jump-off

Partying on Thursday night is what I've been waiting for all week. People packing clubs and having a good time.

I started at the AKA party at the Forum. What!

The main dance floor was ridiculous. The mezzanine was just as crowded and the rooftop had a small crowd as well. Big shouts to DJ Stacey Blackman. He kept people on the dance floor, and pulled out some track that I didn't even know he had. The Alphas, the AKA's brother fraternity, shouted their chants and drowned out the music. I peeped Panther Julius Peppers chillin' in Pravda, where bar manager Savis poured me up a shot that had pineapple and some kind of caramel vodka. It burned so good. The Forum on Thursday was the vibe I'd been waiting for.

Well done AKAs, but the ladies of pink and green weren't the only ones packing them in on Thursday. The party at V-Lounge was nuts. They were at capacity by 1 a.m. Heat smacked you in the face like a bitter ex as soon as you walked into the club. The bartenders looked overwhelmed, but they handled it. I have to pause to applaud two strong women I saw tonight.

The first was a shortie at the Forum. She was fine in her fitted top and jeans and she walked through a throng of guys like she was wearing sweats and a T-shirt. The guys tried to touch her and dance on her in a disrespectful way. She pushed them off and stood her ground. Too few women do that. The second hand-clap goes to the female bartender at the V-Lounge. She's pouring drinks and some dude grabs her hand to get her attention. She snatches her hand away and tells him to wait, and then she continued taking orders from people who were there first. Good look.

V-Lounge was so crowded and hot that the idea of dancing seemed masochistic. Of course people danced anyway. T-Gangsta and his crew took over the floor upstairs. He was so hype, he jumped onto his friend's shoulders during one song, but the security guard made him get down. Another guy in T-Gangsta's crew danced so hard that his oversized jeans fell to his ankles. He didn't stop. The security guard shook his head and then made him pull his pants up. Crazy baby, crazy.

Surprisingly, I was home by 2:30 a.m. I was glad to get in early because I want to catch Steve Harvey's live broadcast in a couple of hours.

Were you out Thursday night? What good party did I miss? Post your replies below, and holla' at a sista' if you see me in the streets. (Party hard, party safe.)