Friday, February 29, 2008

Tempo turns up the heat

About a block from Tempo on Friday, I could already smell the fried fish.

Cars filled every inch of space within a two-block radius. Police officers were writing tickets to a line of about 50 cars that were parked along Boyer Street.

I managed to squeeze into a makeshift lot and made my way up the hill to the nightclub in west Charlotte for the Tanglewood Crew’s annual Fish Fry Friday.

"You’re lucky," I was told by one of 30 people in line. Last year, the line snaked around the building before the party even started, she said.

Once inside, it was easy to forget it was still just a Friday afternoon. People jammed the dimly lit hallway outside the main part of the club. And the dance floor? Packed.

Even out in the hallway, you could feel the body heat generated by the hundreds of people dancing to old and new school hip-hop.

If I didn’t just walk in from the broad daylight, I would have thought it was 1 a.m. on a Saturday night.

I decided to skip the dance floor and get to the good stuff – the fried food being served out on the patio. By 4:30 p.m., it was practically gone.

I met people from Chicago, D.C., Maryland – and a bunch of folks told me they were playing hooky to be at the week’s biggest day party.

"Cough, cough. See? I have a cold," one (anonymous, of course) woman said as she explained she wasn’t supposed to be there.

On my way out, I caught Tempo owner Jumaane Torrence, looking tired at the door.

"It’s crazy in there," I said.

He shook his head and told me, "It’ll be even crazier tomorrow."

See you there.