Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Let CIAA the parties begin

About a dozen AKAs started their CIAA weekend at Therapy, a martini bar on Tryon Street, on Wednesday. Last year, the AKAs had one of the best parties on Thursday night. This year they face more competition, but Kelly Eaves isn’t worried. She says they’ve already sold more than a 1,000 tickets to Thursday’s party at the Forum.

Tonight the big parties begin.

I will be stopping by Menage and the Levine Museum of the New South. Over the next few days, I plan to see E.U., EPMD, Backyard Band and Vivica Fox.

What parties are you most looking forward to, and why? Post your replies below. And don’t forget to e-mail me your party pictures. Include the location and date of the party.

Who does he think he is?

He's Mr. Goodstuff! Ooo ooo, ha.
Mr. Goodstuff doesn’t just hawk mix CDs at his booth inside Charlotte Bobcats Arena, he sings and dances too.
In the span of five minutes on Wednesday, I learned that there was actually a song called “Walking the Dog” and Rufus Thomas, not James Brown sang it.

Goodstuff played a mix CD featuring the tune for a customer, but he drew a bigger crowd when he started dancing as well. It’s not often you see guy with biceps bigger than my thighs dropping low to the floor and doing spins as well. A crowd gathered to watch Goodstuff’s steps.

At the CIAA tournament, the vendors lining the concourse are as much as part of the tradition as the fans themselves. They sell everything from CDs to sunglasses to art to Greek clothing and accessories and more.

The first men’s game was Wednesday afternoon and the arena was alive with activity. Some people strolled, but the best people watching occurred at the main entrance. There pockets of people hugged, shook hands and caught up with old friends.

Tamia CI kick off party

After Eden, I headed across town to another CIAA weekend kickoff party: the Tamia concert at Tempo nightclub on Wilkinson Boulevard.
I stopped by the club earlier that evening for a VIP reception. At 8 p.m., a line stretched into the parking lot. When I returned about 9:30 p.m., fans crowded the stage.
In a phone interview, Tamia promised to give fans a real R&B show, and she did on Sunday. Accompanied by a full band and background singers who doubled as dancers, Tamia gave fans a show packed with danceable tunes and pearl-clutching sad songs.
She sang her new tune “Too Grown,” as well as favorites “Can’t Get Enough,” “Spend My Life,” and “Stranger In My House."
Surprisingly, the woman who said in an interview that she was too old for the booty-shake music unleashed a booty-shake instrumental medley. She sang a bit of “SexyBack,” and she and band members did the motorcycle dance and walked it out. It lasted for a hot-minute and provided a nice break from her mellow grooves.

After the show, Tamia said she was genuinely surprised and thankful that so many audience members bought her independently released CD “Between Friends.” She said Charlotte’s crowd was one of the best – for real.
The Tamia show and the Exodus band were CIAA weekend warm-ups. Tonight, the big parties begin.

Exodus CI Sunday

The CIAA moment came sooner than I expected this week. Exodus – a typical Charlotte band that plays smooth-jazz covers of current and classic R&B songs – was wrapping up its set at a kickoff party at Eden when it happened.

It was about 8:30 p.m., and the party would be ending soon. Men and women sat at tables downstairs, and a handful watched from the balcony above. Two women danced on the floor. A group of women headed down the steps to leave.
And then Exodus’s horn player belted out the opening notes of Jay Z’s “Show Me What You Got.” The women on the steps stopped, threw their hands up in the air and started dancing. Leaving the club was no longer an option. One by one, every seat downstairs emptied as men and women flooded floor. I kid you not, every seat. Granted, the crowd was only 50 or so people strong, but those 50 people had enough energy to make Eden feel like the Forum on a good night.

It wasn’t that “get your freak on” dancing, it was let’s sweat and have fun. After the band finished, DJ Nate segued the jazz version into the real song. Then he played old-school hip-hop, Slick Rick, Run D.M.C and more. People were still grooving when I left at 9 p.m., which is when this party (held the fourth Sunday) typically ends.

Monday, February 26, 2007

Deborah Cox at Velocity

The men and women screamed, sang and showered Deborah Cox with love at Velocity on Friday.

Fantasia mystery solved

Apparently, it wasn't a scandalous disagreement that took Fantasia off the Jamie Foxx Unpredictable Tour, which stops here on March 23. According to Fantasia's management company she is no longer on the tour because she is currently in rehearsals for the role of Celie in the Broadway production of "The Color Purple."

According to, Fantasia will begin appearing in the play on April 10. Kenita Miller currently plays that role. Fantasia will be on Oprah on Wednesday to announce her upcoming role. She previously announced it on "American Idol" last week.

This is huge news for Fantasia who was passed over for the role of Effie in "Dreamgirls." Jennifer Hudson won an Oscar for her role in the movie.

I'm excited for Fantasia, but bummed. I'm going to see the play the last weekend in March so I won't see Fantasia's Broadway debut. Hmm, sounds like I need to talk to the Observer's big dawgs to arrange a road trip. I'll keep you posted.

Until then, have you seen "The Color Purple" on Broadway? If so, do you think Fantasia will make a good Celie? Post your thoughts below.

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Jamie Foxx and Fantasia - what's the deal?

Tickets are selling well for the Jamie Foxx concert at Bobcats Arena
next month, but if you’re expecting Fantasia to be on the "Unpredictable Tour," prepare to be disappointed.

Fantasia, who was on the first leg of the tour, is no longer rolling with Foxx. Instead, fans will get more comedy from opening comedian Speedy, and Foxx will do a 20-minute routine. There also will be a video montage of Foxx’s career.

Foxx’s handler’s say Fantasia couldn’t fit her type of show into the 30- to 40-minute opening slot, and that it was a hassle to change the stage setup for the other two acts. (Fantasia’s people aren’t saying anything; they didn’t return e-mail request for comments.)

This explanation sounds crazy to me. Yes, she puts on a good show, but 30 minutes is plenty of time for an opening act. And changing the stage between acts is part of the concert business. They pay people to make that go smoothly and quickly. Reviews of the show have been mostly favorable. Why change it up now?

Initially, I thought Fantasia -- who lives in Charlotte -- might have stolen the show from Foxx with her exuberant performance. Then I realized that, in the past six months,the two have had a couple of steamy public encounters. The most notable was the much-talked-about kiss during the BET awards last summer.

Now, I’m wondering if maybe there was a "personality" conflict. Whatever happened, I hope Fantasia gets back on the road soon. Post your thoughts below.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Partying at the Bartender's Ball

A woman and man wearing camouflage, a bar made of ice, a giant barrel that dispensed liquor and a man eating an English muffin while he was asleep, were only a few of the experiences at Sunday’s Bartender’s Ball.

The sixth annual event moved back uptown on Sunday, and partiers relished the move. (It was at Merchandise Mart last year.) In the span of five hours, we danced to “Throw Some D’s,” “Sweet Escape,” hard rock and electronica. We hustled in the breakfast buffet line for the Men’s Club only to realize they had run out of syrup for the French toast and their tasty Applewood bacon before 11 p.m. Some of my best memories occurred in the Men’s Club’s area.

I’m sitting at a table eating my French toast watching a drunk guy across the table from me nibble on an English muffin, fall asleep, then nibble some more. Then, he reaches across the table for my English muffin. I stop him, and hand over the bread. He was too drunk for me to get mad – besides, watching him eat and sleep was comical.

If you didn’t go, here are some scenes from the night.

Highlights: Meeting a 53-year-old woman who kept dropping it like it’s hot on my friend J-Dawg…. The hip-hop set before the DJ blew a fuse and the music stopped... Seeing Tempo nightclub participate. It’s the first year I can remember a black-owned establishment participating in the ball. Their theme was Bob Marley’s birthday…. Collecting more beads than my girl… BAR Charlotte’s Valentine’s Day theme. Seeing cupid run around in his underwear was too funny…. Buffalo Wild Wing’s honey barbecue wings. Yes, the Men’s Club’s roast beef and spinach dip were tasty, but Buffalo Wild Wing’s line was shorter, and sometimes you want greasy chicken wings to go with a night of drinking.

Lowlights: The women’s bathroom was a haven for lung cancer. Smoking wasn’t allowed in the main ballrooms, so many women lit up in the bathroom. It was horrible…Some folks were stupid drunk by the end of the night.

Top three bars were: Cans (Armed Services Day), Brick and Barrel (End of Prohibition) and the Irish bars (St. Patrick’s Day).

What you missed: The La Poire Grey Goose (pear-flavored) mixed with pomegranate juice at Loft’s booth…A peek at the Greek crew’s newest venture, Alley Cat… Spykes, a flavored caffeine, ginseng and guarana mix that you pour in beer.

Did you go the Bartender’s Ball? How did you like it? How did it compare to last year’s?

Shakespeare in yo' face

A large ramp extended down from the second tier to the promenade floor of the Duke Family Performance Hall inside Davidson’s Knobloch Campus Center. We sat on the side of the ramp Saturday, waiting for the start of Shakespeare’s “Pericles.”

I hadn’t planned to attend the Royal Shakespeare Company’s production, but co-worker Kathy Haight raved so much about seeing one of the productions last week that I wanted to see one for myself.

On Saturday, I understood why Kathy liked it so much. For slightly more than three hours, I felt as if I were in the play. Standing on the promenade, I never knew when a gun-toting thug, drag queen or king would come storming past me. My only complaint was the length. I don’t like sitting through two-hour movies, so a three-hour play is way too long.

“Pericles” isn’t “to be or not to be”-style Shakespeare. Although I did get lost sometimes when the griot was narrating the story, for the most part, “Pericles” was accessible to low-brow theater fans like me. It tells the story of a Pericles, the king of Tyre, who fled his country, found love and lost it, and thought his daughter was dead.

Instead of everything happening on one stage, the play unfolds throughout the promenade. Audience members standing in the promenade scooted around to see the action and to avoid getting in the actor’s way. There was fencing, a man being thrown ashore, a brothel and an angel descending from the sky. Actors pointed guns at us and at times spoke directly to us.

It was theater in a way that I've never experienced before, and can't wait to experience again. (If the play is shorter.)

Monday, February 19, 2007

Mardi Gras in Lake Norman

Purple, gold and green balloons formed an arch above the bar inside NV nightclub. The head of a giant jester hung from the

ceiling. A man wearing purple royal robes and purple face paint handed out beads.

On Saturday, NV made partiers feel as if they were on Bourbon Street. Beads dropped from the club’s balcony, music boomed, women and men wore masks, and people danced all over each other to top 40 hip-hop.

To make the experience even more authentic: a girl standing on the dance floor threw up, apologized, and went back to dancing. Surprisingly, the only thing I didn’t see was girls showing their breasts for beads.

My girl and I got into a contest to see who could get the most beads. We each started with three. On the way inside, she found a set on the ground. Once inside, the purple-face man gave me a set. Then a big sweetheart from Asheville gave me a handful. He said he’d recently ended an 11-year relationship with a woman who had a wild hair. He was visiting with his two brothers, and he wanted to give me a handful of beads because he liked us.

I was leading the bead pack, but my girl got inspired. She hustled one guy out of a nice set, and then the big Asheville guy gave her a handful. Before the end of the night, she’d earned 17 and I only had 10 -- but hey, Mardi Gras partying is just getting started.

On Tuesday, there are Fat Tuesday parties at Cans and Dixie’s Tavern. My girl is going down.

Friday, February 16, 2007

Who exactly cares about Anna Nicole?

At midnight on Valentine’s Day, the music stopped inside Club Onyx on Old Pineville Road. Ten dancers walked out onto the stage and gave each other perplexed looks.

The announcer explained: Last week, Anna Nicole Smith passed away, he began.

“And?” someone said.

The announcer continued, explaining that Smith used to dance at Rick’s Cabaret, which owns Club Onyx in Houston. (In fact, that’s where she met her late husband.) So at midnight, all of the Rick’s Cabarets around the country were saluting Smith. At each club, the dancers were expected to come out on stage at midnight and blow her a kiss.

In Charlotte, the dancers bowed their heads for a brief moment of silence. Then the music started, and the dancers marched off-stage indifferent to what had just happened.

Their nonchalance struck me as curious. It seemed like Smith’s rise to fame would appeal to the dancers, but it didn’t. I interviewed a few, who didn’t care much about her.

Nya had the most to say: “She’s a dancer. A lot of people have this misconception about her. Everybody has to eat somehow.”

The evening reminded me of a conversation I had earlier with Kitch. He said black people don’t care about Smith. I thought he was trippin’, and argued that blacks and whites were both interested. I said everyone wants to know what’s going to happen body, who’s the father of her child, and who would raise her kid. Kitch argued that if it was Lil’ Kim, blacks would pay more attention.

After going to Onyx on Wednesday, I wonder if he’s right. Is there a cultural difference in interest about Smith, and if so, why? Post your response below.

Thursday, February 15, 2007

The gay agenda in Charlotte

Poetry flowed, bodies danced and women connected at the one-year anniversary party for In the Lyfe, a promotions company for lesbians of color that is building a following with its parties at Wine Up in NoDa.

At Wine Up last Friday, the evening started with a poetry open-mike. (Let me just say that I don’t understand why they continue to have open-mike poetry when the audience refuses to be quiet. They need to either start asking rude patrons to leave, or add a separate open-mike poetry night where talking won’t be tolerated.)

After the poetry, the dance floor opened and filled quickly. Some women danced, a few shot pool and others talked around the bar.

The In the Lyfe parties draw a mix of lesbians of all ages and styles, from baby butches(young lesbians who dress like teenage boys) to stylish ones rocking cool hats (not just me) to older ones content wearing jeans and sweaters. They remind me of when I used to party in my 20s at Club Myxx, Scorpios and a now-closed spot that used to be on Morehead Street near WBT studios.

The parties come at a time when Charlotte is struggling to find leaders in the gay and lesbian community. The Lesbian and Gay Community Center, which hasn’t reached out to homosexuals who aren’t middle-class and white, is in danger of closing. On Tuesday, the Center’s leadership held a town hall meeting to discuss the future of the Center.

On Sunday, Unity Fellowship Church is launching culture week at Spirit Square. It is trying to raise money to support a tutoring and career development program for at-risk high school students at UFC Charlotte's Freedom Center. Sunday’s event will feature “Black and Like Us Too,” a photo exhibit that looks at the lives of gay African-Americans through the lens of photographer Moye.

There will also see a play “WORDS: The Isms,” which tackles issues related to fear of people who are different. It's at 8 p.m. Sunday at Spirit Square, and tickets are $25; 704-567-5007 for details. The photo exhibit will also be at the Afro-American Cultural Center on Wednesday, and will be part of a discussion that evening beginning at 7 p.m.

In March, several black gays and lesbians will meet to develop ways for African American gays to take more active leadership roles in the politics and the happenings of this city. (At least, I hope that’s the overall goal of the meeting.) Assuming the Lesbian and Gay center remains open the meeting will be there.

Others are organizing as well. Next week, according to an e-mail I received Wednesday, several local church leaders will meet at Blumenthal Performing Arts Center from 7-9 p.m. Monday through Friday of next week for a lecture series to discuss the homosexual agenda (you know there is one gay agenda for the entire world).

These organizers have timed their meetings to protest the 12th annual Human Rights Campaign Gala “Equality is Forever,” which will be on Feb. 24 at the Charlotte Convention Center. I can’t imagine who wouldn’t want to protest equal rights for everyone, but I digress.

The annual fundraiser will feature singer Jennifer Holliday, but will also address serious issues facing gays and lesbians throughout the country. In Wednesday's Paid to Party: Hump Day column, I will run the list of HRC dinner pre-parties and after-parties. Until then, get info at

The city’s gays and lesbians face some challenging days ahead, and it’s encouraging to see that many are coming together to tackle the challenges.

What do you think are the biggest challenges facing gays and lesbians in Charlotte? Post your replies below.

Pre-Valentine's parties wrap-up

Men and women in jeans, button-downs and tight-fitting clothes huddled to keep warm as they waited to get inside Cans for the Fourth Annual Anti-Valentine’s Day Bash, the first stop on my round of parties Saturday.

Inside, people shouted over the music. Downstairs, pockets of people danced to a mix of ’80s rock and recent hip-hop hits.

Over in South End, men and women wearing all-black, liquid latex, electrical tape, jeans and T-shirts, dog collars (or barely nothing at all) waited to get inside Amos’ Southend for the Purgatory fetish party.

Inside, two shirtless men danced on stage. Near the rear of the club, a woman - her hands bound to her feet - hung from a swing suspended from the ceiling. A go-go dancer gyrated on a platform in front of the sound booth.

My final stop was at Southend Brewery for Six Figures Entertainment’s Valentine Heartbreak Ball. Six Figures is a new player in the urban party promotion world. Like many others, it promises an upscale atmosphere.

On Saturday, they drew a light, but fun crowd. They closed off the bar area with a white curtain and kept all of the partiers in the main dining area. When you walked inside, there was a VIP setup on the right. It featured a small buffet with pasta, chicken and salad. Each table also had a bottle of Moet. Nice touch.

Most of the men wore suits or nice jeans and button-downs, and the women wore tasteful dresses and slacks as well. Initially, all of the women were on the dance-floor side, while most of the men gathered in the bar area. The women didn’t wait on the men. They paired off and danced, or did the Electric Slide as a group. It felt like a high school prom. (Fellas, you looked real weak.)

Eventually, the promoters dragged a few men onto the dance floor. DJ L. Boogie’s mix of old school R&B - like Frankie Beverly and Maze - created an African American wedding reception/family reunion feel.

If Six Figures can keep the guys on the dance floor and continue to host parties like this, it might become the next big player in the urban party market here.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Updated Valentine's parties for tonight

FUNNY CUPID: Comedians Tommy Davidson & Nessie and R&B singer Calvin Richardson headline Love and Laughter Show. 8 p.m. Big Chill. $15 and up. 704-503-4242.
CUPID ROCKS: Incognito Mosquito, Breaking Laces and others headline the Anti-Valentine's Masquerade. 8 p.m. Neighborhood Theatre. $8-$10.
CUPID PUCKERS UP: Rumba in Kiss Alley. Danny Love’s the DJ. Best kiss contest. 10 p.m. Skandalos. $10. 704-777-6868.
I HEART CUPID: No Question and Just Woo Me present a romantic night with DJ Prince and R&B singer Fareed. 8 p.m. Wednesday. Fox & Hound. $10. 704-965-3434;
ANGRY CUPID: The Takeover Friday guys celebrate lost and nonexistent love at their Bitter Party. 7 p.m. Tutto Mondo. Free. for invitation.
HAPPY CUPID: Lovers & Friends party featuring the sounds of DJ Chase. Party presented by Funklabb. 8 p.m. Sunset Club. $10 and up. 704-819-3558,
VIOLENT CUPID: Bring an item of your ex’s and throw it in the wood chipper outside of Buckhead for the Shred Your Ex. party. There will be prizes and drink specials. Live from Hot Sauce. .Buckhead Saloon.

Please note: the NV item was removed. Their party was Saturday. They will be having a huge Mardi Gras party on Saturday.

Thursday, February 08, 2007

Stank staff

I don’t know what’s up with Time Lounge, but some of its Tuesday night staff needed an attitude adjustment.

Outside the front door, a security guard dressed in black (including a Neoprene face mask, though it wasn’t that cold) looked as if he was itching for a fight. I tried to make small talk, but he just demanded my I.D. On the other hand, Mr. Tough Guy was totally friendly with the group of giggly girls behind me.

Service at the bar wasn’t much better. Though the club wasn't crowded, it took forever to get a drink; when I finally got one, the bartender acted as if it were a

I chatted with a couple of guys here from Boston who received the same treatment. They said bartenders in Boston are always rude, so they were used to the behavior.

I don’t always expect a Coke and a smile, but I also don't expect the staff to act stank -- especially when the place isn’t packed.

Have you been to any bars or clubs where the service has been less than pleasant? If so, what's your story? Post your reply below.

Super Bowl in Nashville

I watched the Super Bowl in Nashville, Tenn., at Road Dawg’s uncle’s
house. He’s been throwing a Super Bowl party for 12 years. You know what that means: Road trip!

The party was crazy. I figured since the house was a
mini-mansion, we’d be hanging with a bunch of pretentious buppies. I was wrong. It was as if someone had brought the regulars at Coyote Joe’s here.

After the game ended, the music started. One guy wanted to hear Bobby Womack-style slow songs all night. An older lady boogied to T.I.’s “Top Back.” That was funny. I caused a minor uproar when I told a touchy-feely girl to stop touching my head. She stomped out of the room yelling Jesus Christ. That was funny, too.

After the real bartenders left, I learned how to make a Buttery Nipple (Butterscotch schnapps and Bailey’s). I perfected my pomegranate martini. Oh, and I discovered that apple martini’s should be green,not clear.

It was my kind of party.

Thursday, February 01, 2007


Get ready to party for CIAA with Vivica Fox, Mims, EPMD and more.