As tens of thousands of revelers descend on Atlanta this Labor Day weekend for the city's annual Black Pride celebration, organizers are offering a packed schedule of nightlife events, dance parties and more to do once the sun goes down.
As to what to expect from this year's party lineup, Avian Watson from Traxx Girls says there's something for everyone among the 40-odd Black Pride events happening during Labor Day Weekend in Atlanta.
“You should be ready to be entertained,” Watson says. “It's going to be a great weekend. We have people coming in internationally to enjoy it. Be safe, be ready, be easy and have fun.”
Ladies lead nightlife lineup
Traxx Atlanta owner Phillip Boone hopes to avoid entertainment comparisons to previous years. The goal, Boone says, is to ensure Atlanta's Black Gay Pride weekend is a continued success. Moving forward is his primary concern.
“It's hard to top yourself from year to year,” says Boone. “We try to continue the legacy and keep the momentum of what we're trying to do here in Atlanta, creating a great pride for our people.”
Even without comparison, this year's Black Pride entertainment schedule features several big name singers and TV personalities. These stars are important, Boone says, because of their reach to an audience larger than that at Black Pride.
But not all star-power is created equally. Female artists, who have dominated the marquee events in recent years, are generally more accepting and willing to participate in events during Black Pride Weekend, Boone says.
Kelly Rowland, Ciara and Brandy are among the highest-profile performers at this year’s Black Pride events.
“Celebrities have a large voice in the gay community. That's very important. We only use the girls now, because some guys still have homophobic feelings about performing before our audience,” he says.
But Boone is not discouraged, believing those boundaries will be crossed soon.
“Those are still walls for us to try to break down. It won't matter your ethnicity, we will be able to get any artist to perform for us, whether male or female,” he says.
Boone says the weekend festival, which has grown to become one of the largest Black Pride events in the country, is a testament to those who came before.
“When we do this, we're doing this out of many years of people that have passed, who have paved the way for us to be able to do this,” Boone says.
“I want everyone to know this isn't something we put together, this is something that's been planned over a couple decades. I'm so glad it's still here and available.”
For the star seekers, the highlight event for Traxx Girls is sure to be Saturday's “Big Bang” party at the Georgia Freight Depot. The event features former Destiny's Child member Kelly Rowland playing emcee and a musical performance by singer Ciara, whose latest effort, a self-titled album, dropped earlier this year.
Rowland is also slated to host Traxx Atlanta's “Saturday Night Live” at 595 North Event Center on Saturday while Ciara joins Redickulous for the Black Pride Body Party at XS Ultra Lounge, also on Saturday night.
“It's always good to bring something back that's current,” Boone says. “And Ciara is at the top of her game.”
Stars align this weekend
Another of the weekend's major draws is R&B singer Brandy, who is scheduled to perform Sunday night at the Freight Depot.
Mario Harris from Wassup N ATL says his organization is happy to bring Brandy back to Atlanta for Black Pride.
“Brandy is very easy to work with,” Harris says. “She's very supportive of the gay community and she loves her fans.”
Harris adds that's he's excited to return to the Freight Depot for 2013.
“It's a large venue with plenty of space,” Harris says. “We definitely wanted to go back because it's a great space and one of the only spaces that could hold an artist of that magnitude.”
Brandy is also scheduled to appear at the Queendom “All White Party” at the Havana Club Sunday night, as well as accept a humanitarian award at the Pure Heat Community Festival on Sunday afternoon.
Events featuring Rowland, Brandy and Ciara stand out on Black Pride's nightlife calendar, but the weekend's parties will also feature several TV personalities and national DJs.
“Love & Hip Hop Atlanta” star Joseline Hernandez is the featured guest at Friday's “Mega Party” at 200 Peachtree put on by Traxx Girls. Herandez will perform her new single. K. Michelle, also a “Love and Hip Hop Atlanta” vet, will perform Sunday at the “Celebrity Showtime Sundays” at Mansion Elan, also hosted by Traxx Girls.
Actress and singer Teyana Taylor joins “Love & Hip Hop Atlanta” stars Mimi Faust and Ariane Davis at Queendom's “The Little Black Dress Affair” Friday night at Compound.
Entertainer Kamille Leai joins singer Stevie J for Traxx Girl's “Atlanta WETher!” celebrity block party at Opera.
Some 25 DJs are spinning parties across the city over the weekend.DJ E and DJ Cowboy go head-to-head Saturday night at Ladies at Play event at Aurum while DJ D Nice and DJ D Cas spin at the Blue Diamond Entertainment “All White Party” at the Venetian Room.