Friday, March 21, 2008
Ok, Iâ€™ll get straight to it. I am so sick of living in a big city, in an urban community and not having anything to patronize thatâ€™s black-owned but a damn club. I live in Washington DC, home of the richest and most educated black population in the country and I look around and find that we donâ€™t own jack shit here, except a bunch of depreciating McMansions in the suburbs. And when an African-American wants to start a business on a large scale, more often than not its some damn club or a faux-bourgeois restaurant. I mean, WTF?
Once in a while I may want to go have dinner somewhere cool, go out for drinks, go to a lounge, take a dance class, do yoga or go do some kareaoke somewhere—so why cant I find anyplace cool thatâ€™s black-owned ? I really wish more of our brothers and sisters who want to go into â€œentertainment establishmentsâ€ business would take a look around and actually evaluate the needs of the community. What do we not have? Then do that! Iâ€™m not mad at the clubs, but can we at least act like there are some of us who want to do something else? Who is catering to that? Because Iâ€™m not gonna lie, the hottest spots in my city are all owned and operated by white folks. They can take an abandoned liquor store that has been run down for 10 years that we’ve all walked by every day, and the turn it into a cute little bar with character and charm.
And its so sad that even on those rare occasions when there is a cool black spot, or a cool regular black eventâ€”why I gotta pay $20 just to walk in the door???? Why is there, in Chocolate City and most urban areas, a surcharge to be around black people? The spot can be free every other night of the week, but on Black night, you gonna pay! Why do promoters feel like just because theyâ€™re playing hip hop/R & B, we should be required to pay more than if they were playing rock and alternative?
I feel so victimized by Black entertainment venues. I actually get jealous of white people in that regard. They can go to, generally, any bar/lounge and walk in and listen to music or drink or do karaoke or play darts or pool or whatever the fuck they do, and have a blast for free. Their spots are creative, interesting, warm, no dress codes, and most importantly no sour-faced chic at the door with a little silver cash box. Weâ€™re more worried about VIP rooms and making people take off their hats than we are with providing cool entertainment venues for our communities.
For example, we have a place in DC called Ozioâ€™s, where the only nights they charge are on Black nights. Hello??????? And we pay it. (well, not me) We still continue to go! When will we get it??? If I want to be around black folk, im always gonna pay a grip, the drinks are gonna be high as giraffe snatch, theyâ€™ll be some dumb ass dress code, and in 2 months it will be taken over by thugs thereby creating the need to find a new spot and the cycle begins again.
Iâ€™ve never understood why it is more expensive on Black night than it is on International Night? And hell, on White night its free! And you know why? Because it can be! Our dumb asses stand in a line and pay it each and every time.
Let me give another example in my beloved city. We have a little entertainment district called the U street corridor, that was a center of Black culture in the city up until the King riots. However in the forty years since the riots, the buildings lay vacant and the strip fell into disrepair with a few little business and a couple of clubs thriving but generally a bunch of eye sores. So now, Mr. Charlie has come in and revitalized the area into a thriving area for nightlife with music, bars etcâ€¦ They even created two restaurants, one dedicated to Langston Hughes and one dedicated to Marvin Gaye. And black folks got the nerve to be talking smack about gentrification. (I’ll save my thoughts on gentrification for another day)
So let me get this straight, we let it sit there for 40 years and nobody seemed too mad about that, we werenâ€™t building businesses and nobody seemed too care about that. But let some white people come in and fix it up and all of a sudden we are angry. Talking about the white folks are taking over! Letâ€™s seeâ€¦ crack houses/skid row versus thriving nightlifeâ€¦hmmmmmm. Lawdy bee. Meanwhile, the one black spot left in that area, Jin, makes you wait outside in a dumb line with asshole doormen, when all the while itâ€™s like 7 people inside. And whats worse, people actually wait.
Anyhooâ€¦ i digress.
Do you know how much money someone would make if they just created a spot? Not a mega-club where you economically rape all yr customers, but just a neighborhood spot that isnt obsessed with luxury. Because I aint luxurious 90% of the time. I want a place where I can throw on some Uggs and a t-shirt with profanity on the front, put some Jill on the juke box, and go meet that guy I met on Match.com. I donâ€™t want to yell over the music, I donâ€™t want to pay for the privilege of spending my money at your bar, and I sho donâ€™t care about your tired ass VIP.
We need more vision from our entrepreneurs. If you build it, and its quality, they will come. For all those they may go into this industry, please realize that people are getting married and having kids later so that gives them several more years to go out recreationally and they have a lot of disposable income to do so. But the 30 somethingâ€™s donâ€™t want to go to your club, I donâ€™t care if you do call it Grown & Sexy Night, we all know itâ€™s the same bullshit. So create something that we can go to that actually serves the community, that will have the same name in 5 years, that fills a void. Thatâ€™s how you make moneyâ€”seeing a niche and filling it. Much like our music and movies, we just keep doing the same thing over and over. Sure, the young folks will always go to clubs and thatâ€™s cool, but what about those of us who have no idea who Flo-Rida is?
Come on guys, you young, talented next generation of entrepreneursâ€”PLEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEASE!!! Enough with the club. Believe it or not, Black folks like to do other things too. Start a piano bar, a lounge, a coffee shop, a rock climbing facility, a sportsplex, anything but another tired ass club. I know you cant tell from listening to the radio, but there are other social interests in the African-American community.
Lets try to do a better job at assessing the needs of our communities. Lets bring our soul and creativity and vibrance to our entrepreneurial spirit as well. Perhaps we just may not need another â€œurbanâ€ clothing store with shirts hung on hangers in the window and the â€œsâ€ replaced with a â€œzâ€ in the sign. But we may need a laundromat or a bike repair shop or a comedy club or a picture framing place or a pharmacy or a 24 hour gym or one of those places where u paint on the pottery.
Our social outlets should be as diverse as we are. They should expose us to new things and provide the comfort of old things. They should foster community and laughter. They should broaden our minds or allow us to stop using them for a while. Is that too much too ask? Onward!
So, as usual thatâ€™s my two cents and its generally worth about as much as you’re paying for it. Meanwhile I gotta hurry up and runâ€¦its only free before 8p.