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|Black Pride's nightlife scene scales back on major stars, but still promises plentiful parties|
|by Dyana Bagby|
|August 29, 2012 12:04|
There won't be a Nicki Minaj versus Lil Kim drama storm, a Brandy sing-a-long or Kelly Rowland waving to the masses at this year's Black Gay Pride. Expect old-fashioned block parties, plenty of great music from up-and-coming artists, and still a few notable names including Elle Varner, Fantasia and Melanie Fiona.
Tough economic times are taking a toll on Black Gay Pride promoters known for bringing in the big names and many decided this was the year to cut back and work to produce quality parties with great talent at affordable pricing.
For the first time ever, Traxx Atlanta, Rockstars Production and the Lions Den are combining their VIP and Club Hopper passes so participants can purchase one pass from any promoter and have access to all parties the promoters are producing.
Phillip Boone, owner of Traxx Atlanta, said it was time for the promoters to come together to show solidarity, get rid of some of the competition as well as serve the clients in the best and most affordable way — and with these three promoters working together, he said he hopes the venture is successful.
Party all the time
Traxx Atlanta and Traxx Girls scored this year with Elle Varner, whose debut album “Perfectly Imperfect” is now at No. 4 on Billboard's R&B/Hip Hop Albums. Her song “Only Wanna Give It to You” is also a hit in the clubs.
Varner will perform her hits “Only Want to Give It to You” and “Refill” on Friday, Aug. 31, for Traxx Atlanta at 595 North with doors opening at 10 p.m. She also performs for Traxx Girls the same night at 1789 Cheshire Bridge Road.
“We're very excited to get Elle Varner,” said Melissa Scott, owner of Traxx Girls.
Other acts lined up for Traxx Girls include Melanie Fiona and stars from the VH1 hit reality TV show “Love and Hip Hop,” based in Atlanta. The show just had part one of its reunion show air this week and breakout “Love and Hip Hop” star Joseline will judge the “legendary” Traxx Girls wet t-shirt contest on Saturday, Sept. 1, at Primal. Girls, it's time to get wet.
The annual “Booze Cruise” on Friday, Aug. 31, by Traxx Girls allows women to take a boat ride around Lake Lanier with an open bar while also helping raise money for breast cancer research. This year there will be a live performance by Eva Kennedy, a favorite of Atlanta's music scene, and the event is hosted by Juelz and Onyx from the Atlanta-based web show “Between Women.”
Traxx Girls is also known for packing out the Georgia Freight Depot on the Saturday of Black Gay Pride (Sept. 1) with some 4,000 Sapphic partiers for its “Big Bang” show. Headlining the show is Canadian Melanie Fiona, a 2012 Grammy-award winner for her R&B song “Fool for You” with Atlanta's own Cee Lo Green.
Also on Saturday, Traxx Atlanta, RockStars Production and Lions Den will host a block party with Melanie Fiona performing. The entire block of Spring Street, from 3rd Street to 4th Street, will be blocked off for people to party. There will be reggae, hip hop, house and R&B playing inside and outside at the club at the center of it all, XS Ultra Lounge, along with Apache Cafe and Quad.
There will of course be plenty of action for the men as well with a sexy pool party at the Melia Hotel, the host hotel for Black Gay Pride, on Saturday.
A J-Sette competition will be at XS Ultra Lounge also on Saturday before the men primp to go out to the Georgia Freight Depot for one of the largest gatherings of black gay men. Last year, Brandy performed. At press time this year, Traxx Atlanta could only promise an international recording artist to be announced.
'So many beautiful black gay men'
Wassup N ATL brings Fantasia back to Atlanta Black Gay Pride after her successful show in 2010. This time, however, Fantasia will mingle with guests and share intimate moments in the setting of the Nest as part of the official after-party for her concert on Saturday, Sept. 1, at the Labor Day Music Festival at Wolf Creek Amphitheater.
“Fantasia will be in town performing and we are providing the official after-party for her show,” said Mario Harris, owner of Wassup N ATL.
The Labor Day Concert at Wolf Creek also features Joe, Tony Terry and Dru Hill.
Harris said to expect celebrities at the Nest for the after party, but likely no performance — instead, he said, Fantasia wants to mingle with her loyal gay fans.
“Our most challenging obstacle this year is getting talent. It used to be there was a plethora of talent with good songs — now nobody is making good music and some who are we can't afford,” Harris said bluntly.
With Wassup N ATL also celebrating its 10th year and understanding the tough economic times, all of its events (besides VIP treatment) are just $10. And it's back to basics for the gay men who travel from such places as Japan, Puerto Rico and Venezuela to attend the largest Black Pride event in the nation — strippers, porn stars, DJs and dancing. Also, underwear fashion shows where you can buy the underwear right off the model on Sunday, Sept. 2, at Dirty Ratz.
“We have so many beautiful black gay men from all over the world come to Atlanta,” he said. “Our underwear fashion show has been going on for five years and is one of the most popular events.”
And while there is plenty of partying and, yes, hooking up just like any gay party event, Harris says the fellowship Black Gay Pride brings is his favorite part of being a club promoter.
“We're meeting other gay brothers who can sometimes help take our life to another level,” he says.
All club promoters acknowledged they are feeling the heat of a long-term recession and clients who cannot pay extravagant prices to see the likes of Nicki Minaj. So it's back to the “meat and potatoes” for Black Gay Pride this year, Harris said.
“We sent out emails asking our customers what they wanted and they all said they wanted it to be affordable,” Harris said. “They really want to go to the club and have a good time. So we thought, 'Let's be practical.' It's a new day,” he added.
But be on the lookout for talent Harris said is not to be missed — on Friday at Jungle, there will be the Blatino Awards with live performances by Harris' favorite “fag hags” — former Danity Kane songstress D. Woods; singer and rapper Elite Noel (younger sister of Keyshia Cole and BET reality TV star); Paris Bennett of “American Idol”; and Miss Chi Chi of “Too Wong Fu, Thanks for Everything, Julie Newmar” fame.
Friday night's festivities are hosted by Brent Star. Harris said this promises to open Black Gay Pride on a serious party note.
“We want to bring the focus back on the customer,” Harris said.
For 'all flavas'
“What goes on in Atlanta stays in Atlanta” is the motto of this year's Girls in the Night 17th annual Femme-Nomen-Non Labor Day weekend. The event is not about black women, white women or purple women, says Lisa Cox, owner of Girls in the Night.
There will be plenty of options for women including a trip to strip club Magic City on Thursday, Aug. 30; and the “Midnight in Paris All Black Affair” on Friday, Aug. 31, at Compound featuring recording artist Rasheeda and hosted by Mimi Faust and Ariane Davis of “Love and Hip Hop” fame.
Cox is especially thrilled to bring the Juicy to Atlanta, the famous club seen in “The Real L Word.” DJs and dancers from the Los Angeles Club are coming to Atlanta to bring Juicy to the ATL and transform Museum Bar into a scene from “The Real L Word” including stars Whitney Mixter and Sara Bettencourt.
“We want to make sure all women feel welcome. That's why we say all flavas. This is about lesbian pride for us,” Cox says.
Top photo: Some of the highest-profi le performers at this year’s Black Gay Pride include (left to right) Melanie Fiona, Elle Varner and Fantasia. (Publicity photos)
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