Sunday, March 1, 2009

CIAA finale parties live up to hype

Despite the rain and biting wind on Saturday, CIAA fans gathered en masse for one final day of celebration.


Nearly 100 parties were held on Saturday alone, from as far north as Utopia in University City down to Kiss Lounge in south Charlotte.

But it wasn't all that different from a regular weekend in Charlotte -- the place to be was at the EpiCentre, which hired extra security for the weekend in anticipation of the larger crowds.

Hundreds filled the upstairs terraces at the entertainment complex with people lining up four deep to pick up tickets and make their way inside to parties like Inner Circle's Main Event (the promoters took over Suite, Whisky River and Pavilion) and the DJ Jazzy Jeff party at Mez.

I asked a few women where they had been earlier in the night and they said, "We were at the Omni, which was a nice crowd, but this is where it's at."

If the crowd outside the venues was impressive, inside was a sea of wall-to-wall people -- but rather than get caught up in the chaos of the crowds swarming the doors, I hit the Digital Divas' Reunion party at Blue where an older, largely out-of-town crowd (it was a 30+ party) grooved to old school hip-hop and R&B. 

The $40 cover charge at the door may have helped keep the younger people away. "It gets more expensive as it gets later," said the doorman at midnight, which seemed to be a theme of the weekend. 

Over the course of the week, I saw outrageous prices (as well as creative ways around them from partygoers looking for a deal) including $20 parking Wednesday at Jillian's ("It's CIAA, you know how it is," the attendant said.) and a $5 Bud Light at Chima where the bartender gleefully told me there were no drink specials, despite the $30 cover charges people were paying to get in. I also saw people recycling wristbands with a piece of creatively used gum. And I heard more than a few people say that some of the parties were thrown by promoters with no experience who created a promotion company to make a quick buck during CIAA week.

The smartest promoters of the week were the ones who offered ticket prices or covers under $20, made sure the bar offered drink specials and offered a discount with game stubs. This was the year to help CIAA fans out, not hurt them.

What'd you guys think of this year's tournament? Favorite memory? Best/worst party?

39 comments:

Anonymous said...

Who cares?

Anonymous said...

It's funny you mentioned people who started a promotional company for this weekend just to make a quick buck. I know a couple of people who jumped on that bandwagon.

Positives: Nice crowds/atmospheres despite the first year of bad weather here in Charlotte during CIAA.

Negatives: Too many parties and too many scammers over-charging for everything

Anonymous said...

So glad it is over....I'm leaving next year when it comes

Anonymous said...

I care!

GladUareHere said...

I am glad CIAA chose Charlotte. We appreciate the publicity and the money it brought into the city.

Anonymous said...

Who cares you ask? Obviously you if you took the time to 1) at least read the heading and 2) post something.

Anonymous said...

So glad it's over. The two worst weeks in Charlotte, CIAA and SpeedStreet.

Anonymous said...

I dont think you have to worry about leaving next year...Also it was a great weekend to earn extra income or spend income. LOL.

Anonymous said...

I really hate when people display such ignorance. Sometimes things are not about your personal cares or dislikes. I personally don't care for Nascar but would be the FIRST peson protesting because of the money and jobs that it brings to the local economy. Downtown restaurants and hotels have aebeen suffering a tremendous amount in this economy. If you care about nothing else, care about the money that the CIAA brings to the Charlotte Mecklenburg area. and if you don;t care, MOVE

Anonymous said...

Best thing about this year = Local promoters are starting to throw the more popular events, not just the folks from Raleigh and The DMV (DC/MD/VA)anymore.

Worst thing = As said before, bar and resturant folks looking you dead in your face and saying, We don't have any specials "because of" the Tournament. OMG! Happened to me and my friends several times last week. They could have been more subtle about it.

Anonymous said...

My girls and I went to a very nice day party at Chima Steakhouse and night party at the Levine Museum by a group called Red Carpet Affairs. They had great cover charges, gave you plenty of bang for your buck and had a classy atmosphere. All of my girls hope they will be throwing parties next year!!!

Anonymous said...

Finally, I can go back to work. I work in a restaurant downtown and take this week off every year. I visit family because I can't stand the pay cut from the meager tips.

Amy Hutchison said...

Interesting how locals complain about this every year. It brings great revenue to the city, and if you're a local you know where to go to avoid it and still have a good time. Heaven forbid you have to support the non-EpiCentre bars this one weekend. A group of us headed to Tyber Creek Pub, which was larger than a usual Tyber Creek Sat. night, with a band and tent, but not obnoxiously crowded.

Anonymous said...

You've been working for a downtown restaurant for 3 years straight and you're depending on tips? Here's a tip, go get a degree so you can get a real job.

Anonymous said...

I enjoyed the CIAA weekend! I lived in Charlotte 2 years and I am trying to move back. Charlotte continues to move in a positive direction. I started partying for the CIAA Thursday night @ the Rustic Martini, it was nice but I know the AKA Pink Groove was nice too. Friday went to the Steve Harvey morning and had a blast. Saturday, went to the day party @ Rustic Martini, Saturday night was at the Lodge and Mez @ Epiccentre. All and all had blast, I am sure everyone enjoyed themselves. I have nothing but positive stuff to say about the CIAA all the time. It boosts the Charlotte economy, so for the persons that made a comment about leaving charlotte during CIAA weekend and the person about taking off during CIAA, that is your choice, but just know the CIAA helps out Charlotte and the State of North Carolina, so please know your financial facts before posting your ignorant comment...Have a blessed one!

Anonymous said...

Wow that Inner Circle party was crazy off the hook!!! Me and my girls had a ball thanks guys!!!

Anonymous said...

Bite the hand that feeds you. Complainers sound like the Hilton Head/Charleston/Myrtle Beach snobs who hate the tourists that put food on their tables.

Tourism is a wonderful thing and you should hope for more of it. People bring new money to town not just residents giving it back and forth to each other.

Anonymous said...

I've attended the tournament every year for the past 10 years (ever since it was back in Winston Salem) and I think Charlotte is by far the best location the tourney has had so far. I've been in Charlotte for over 8 years and my only complaint about the tournament is the extraordinary amount of parties that are thrown. If you look at the list of parties that Sarah posted last week Friday and Saturday had well over 75 events going on concurrently. With the excessive nightlife there's no time to watch any of the games.

I just wish they would do more to promote games and that venues would stop trying to take advantage of the fans. I typically frequent Suite on weekends where I purchase a VIP table for $350-400. For CIAA when I called they wanted 2500 for the table behind the DJ booth which is usually $450. That's too much of a markup even if they do throw in a bottle of Dom P.

Anonymous said...

I can't agree with few ladies you stopped. The Omni way packed and we had a great time. The dj was good... Dj Skillz kept us on the dance floor.

Anonymous said...

Not sure who The A List and Velvet Entertainment guys are that had that party at The Westin, but that was really nice. VIP was a little too packed, but both DJs were off the chain. And the Cabana's and light show was awesome. Not to mention all of the celebs that I saw and they didn't even advertise that Celebs would be there.

Anonymous said...

The BEST - EVER!!
Alex Bugnon at the Omni. This man is AWESOME!!!!

The ABSOLUTE WORST - DOUG E FRESH at CANS!! Definitely a fire code violation - totally over-crowed!!!

Anonymous said...

The 2 to 6 at Allure was a joke. The DJ stopped the music for breakfest at 3am... stopped the music!...one hour into it, I left. ( are we so crazy for food!) $50 for me & my woman..down the drain. People, we have to learn how to party again.

Anonymous said...

Chrisette Michelle came on at the Spirit & did 20 mins. 20 mins! We had just sat down! She wanted to do more but lamented that the promoter wanted only Her to do 20 mins! Everybody was looking around....I was halfway into my drink! The After party started at 10:00!!! WTF! Now I can see if this was an Celeb. apperance, but this was supposed to be a performance & after party. $100 ( including ez tixx fees) down the drain. People, the show should go on until 11 something or midnight....then you party! This is not High School! Chuck Brown played for HOURS friday night. the Headliner is the Headliner! LET THEM PERFORM !

Anonymous said...

The Bailout $10. DJ Kool party at Amos on thurs Jacked the price to $20 at the door. Now, If the flyer said "$10 before 11pm" or something like that, I could expect the surprise, but to do it on the fly with a straight face...( and the place was empty! I turned around and networked at the hotel. The Promoters will have to learn the hard way.

Anonymous said...

To the whiners hating on CIAA coming to Charlotte - don't you belong in Union or Stanly county?

Anonymous said...

I attended the Day Affair @ Whiskey River- which was hosted by BestFriendz. This was one of the best "recession proof" parties that allowed everyone in for free till b4 2pm w/ free drinks/buffet. DJ S&S did his thang! Diverse crowd and was definitely worth the time/money! I will support them next year!

Anonymous said...

Being originally from Charlotte, and as well, a CIaa grad(NCCU),I'm so proud the way my city has embraced this tournament and made it a bonifide event! Now Charlotte is among the top cities in the country to come to, hang out,and enjoy yourselves!!

Eric said...

A 40 dollar cover doesn't keep away the younger crownd. The 30 + does.

Anonymous said...

CIAA is not for everyone, just like Nascar, however, diversity is the key to success. Successful cities will have something for everyone not just one group of people. We live in a world that selfishness continues to reign over oneness. For those of you who stayed away, thanks, we did not need your negativity around us when we are trying to have a good time. Otherwise you opted to stay at home and spend your precious time graping about CIAA (I know you did, its human nature), it's obvious you don't have anything productive to do.

The best party in my opinion was given by The Circle of Friends Organization. It was a day party held at Extravaganza Depo. The cover was $20 and all the drinks were free! All brand named liquor, beer and wine. What makes it the best party was the cause, all proceeds went to a scholarship foundation for underpriviledged kids. Sometimes it's about making difference instead of a dollar!

The best concert was Chuck Brown at Amos Southend. He played for hours and we partied all night, money well spent. Wind Me Up Chuck!

Anonymous said...

I had a great time! The So So Def party at Suite Friday night was fun but the DJ Jazzy Jeff party at MEZ on Saturday was bad. Problems with the music ruined the night! On the negative side, I do not drink alcohol but had to pay $3.25 for a ginger ale at the bar!!

Anonymous said...

PROTIP: Mez is not a club, don't go there expecting great sounds.

Anonymous said...

It's funny how people here complain about EVERYTHING. I'm sure the city of Charlotte is benefiting tremendously with the CIAA coming to town for that week. I've read some of the comments on here and do these people not know we're in a recession. Those restaurants, hotels, and such needed that money in the worst way. It's a lovely event and one that Charlotte should be proud to have. Honestly and I might be going out on a limb here, I feel those that object to the event more than likely have never heard of the CIAA or aren't African American. We as a people need to get away from all the negativity.

I had a buddy of mine come into town for the weekend to celebrate not only CIAA but his birthday and we had the time of our lives. I wish the weather had been better, but was glad the cold rain didn't put a damper on the festivities. The only other negative (besides the weather) was the Jazzy Jeff party on Saturday. The acoustics in there wasn't that good and it was a weird but "funky" setup. We made the best of it nonetheless. I hope this event NEVER leaves Charlotte!

Theo said...

First of all thank you for your column. I stayed on your updates of parties and it really helped me and my friends pick the best economical parties and know where to get advance tickets from.

Positive: Doug E. Fresh party friday night at Venue 301 was off the hook. He performed for about an hour. That was the best $20 spent. Sat night me and the girls went to Nikko Japanese on South Blvd for a party there and it was nice also. Great crowd, guys who like to dance, and reasonable drink prices. We really enjoyed our CIAA double experience. To top things off my school won. JCSU 2009 CIAA champions!!! I couldn't od asked for a better weekend.

Negatives: Mother nature was not nice. The rain was a bit aggravating. But it didn't stop the spirit of partying.

Anonymous said...

Do any one have pics from the Mez on Friday posted on the net. What was the name of the girl who had the mohawk taking pictures on Friday at the Mez?

Anonymous said...

I had a great time this year at CIAA despite the weather. The best party was the Doug E Fresh/Sunshine Anderson party Friday night at Venue 301 (not only because i got in free b4 11). DJ Double A was OFF THE CHAIN! Doug E. Fresh performed for over an hour. It wasn't overly crowded but it was HOT!...but Doug E. fixed that when demanded that the club owners turn the air on. To top the weekend off, the Golden Bulls swept the championships!! What a great weekend for the city of Charlotte!

Party tip 4 next year - look for all the "free B4 11p.m." parties and BYO liquor!

Anonymous said...

WHINE ME UP CHUCK!!!....LOL
I drove back home to the QC from the DC area for the CIAA this year......and HAD A BALL. Invited some folk from different parts of the U.S. that had NEVER HEARD OF IT...and guess what...next year...they will be back with friends from their part.
As for those who were "Anonymous" that stated that it was the "worst two weeks"...and that they wanted to leave charlotte next year when the CIAA comes to town??? HAUL A$$$$....LOL

Anonymous said...

How foolish are black people to fall for spending $40+ on cover plus over-priced drinks at Suite, Buckhead Saloon, Whiskey River, Forum, Cans and everywhere else Uptown Charlotte that openly discriminates?

Any other day of the week in Uptown, black promoters and patrons are generally not welcomed. Anyone who wishes to dispute Uptown's blatant racism, spark a conversation with one of the doormen at Forum or Suite and ask them about how they are instructed to turn away Blacks (black males especially.) Or read the dress code posted outside of Alley Cat and Bar Charlotte.

All of a sudden for CIAA, every venue in town decides to integrate? Convenient.

It is a Recession so promoters of all races are getting money wherever they can... even if it means exploiting people of their own race at venues that are really just using them.

Black people, we are in a Recession. Have a little integrity. Be smart enough to know that the racist club owners of Charlotte are laughing at YOU all the way to the bank with your CIAA dollars. And they'll be laughing again when you approach the door any weekend other than CIAA assuming you are now all of a sudden welcome.

Anonymous said...

Well I'm one of the promoters that had parties during CIAA at some of the venues that were mentioned. And you are correct, there could be a problem with getting into these venues on any other night other than CIAA. I'm not mad at those venues for doing that and we shouldnt be either.

Thats their space and they can do as they want..And we are known for coming in and tearing up peoples nice stuff. So if we have a problem, then go borrow $4M and open a spot and run it like you want to...

Only to find our later, that you should have been more strict with the people that you let in. I guess we have 935 right.....

So on any other given night, throw on the 4 piece suit and hope that you are chosen as one that can come in and act like you have some sense. I visit them all quite frenquently and have never had a problem getting in....And understand that our folks have a history of messing things up when its too many of us in one place...So some type of process has to be put into place to try to cut down on potential problems.

Now how many urban spots, that are as nice as the venues named, are available to the urban crowd as a regular option. ZERO...

Understand that the dress code is like a weed out course...Hats, sneakers, baggy clothes..Weed out...So either go to Brooks Brothers for a suite and get a shiny watch and some shiny shoes..Or take the athletic wear to somewhere like 935...

And to all the venues that only opened up and accepted the urban folks that cant quite get it right on a regular basis...Thanks for understanding and we will see you again next year...Packed to capacity at $40 per person....

What recession...

Anonymous said...

The poster on March 12, 2009 at 3:59PM is full of crap. Go to the website Carolina Nightlife and look at the party pics from the Uptown Clubs. Especially check out the Forum and Suite pictures and you'll see people of all races, and yes, black folks too. Some people just like to complain, no matter what's the truth.