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.