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.