Tuesday, April 10, 2007

A night in NoDa

A friend and I recently attended an art/spoken word/food/music/mingling event at Dolce Vita wine bar in NoDa. I'll be sure to mention it here the next time the organizers plan one, because I'm often asked where folks of a certain age (meaning older than 25) can hang out and meet available people in Charlotte.

I'll mention this event not only because it's within easy bar/restaurant hopping distance of other places, but because the guys behind this are trying to build an environment, especially for black people, where folks don't have to scream at each other over loud hip-hop, or maneuver around couples doing the kind of dancing that can get girls pregnant. They want to provide a chill vibe where people can just come and hang out, nibble on some goodies, drink some wine, listen to some neo-soul and chat with others who actually remember the '80s and weren't born during them.

There's a pretty diverse group of people hanging out in NoDa, but there still manages to be segregation, and I don't really understand that. Maybe it's because I spent so many years in California, where everywhere you went, from the grocery store to the mall, there were at least 10 ethnic groups represented. But that night in Dolce Vita I sat on a comfy sofa near the window and watched people stroll by. It was a warm night, unlike the arctic freeze we're shivering through now, and the doors to the bar were open. Soothing music floated out, along with the chatter of people enjoying themselves. Numerous times I watched couples and groups of white folks walk by, slowing as they looked inside, drawn by the music and the laughter ... then, when they saw it was a crowd of well-dressed black people, continued walking. On a few occasions groups would stop and discuss it among themselves, and on some of their faces I saw curiosity and yearning, and I would silently send the message, "just walk in and have a drink. What could it hurt?" But none did. One white guy walked in and stayed, but by the way he perused the wine shelves and hung out at the bar, he obviously felt comfortable because he was a regular.

I know I sound like Rodney King here, but really, can't we all just get along? I don't think I'm being naive here. If you like the vibe of a place, why not check it out? (And before you come out with something like, "you're not from the South, so you wouldn't understand," let me add that before I went to California I spent my entire life in the South -- born and raised in Alabama.) Anyway, I had a good time, and I told the main organizer to e-mail me when they have another event.

I look back over what I've written here, and I see there's two points I'm trying to make, yet I might not be clear. So how 'bout this?

1) There are people in town (and these guys aren't the only ones) trying to provide an alternative to the young club scene for black people.

2) Just because the focus is black people, that doesn't mean everyone else is excluded. If you pass a place and it looks fun, why not go in?


Anonymous said...

The same can be said for black folk who don't attend events attended by a white majority. I hang out anywhere that is fun and social; it wouldn't matter if I were the only white girl there. If I'm having fun, I'm having fun! Unfortunately, a lot of people aren't as open-minded as you and I. It's just the way it is, and I don't see that changing anytime soon.

Anonymous said...

They're having an event specifically targeting a demographic and you wonder why folks outside that demographic don't attend? I think you answered your own question.

Wouldn't it be awkward to have an event where they try to get WHITE people together and would you then wonder why black folk don't show up?

Stop with the double-standard already.

Have an event for PEOPLE that may have a common interest. That way race won't come into it.

Anonymous said...

Georgiaboy sez:
If it walks like a duck and it quacks like a duck and it has webbed feet like a duck...it's most likely a DUCK.

Racism by any other name...........

Anonymous said...

I am one of the organizers and we told everyone that we know about our event regardless of color. The premise of this gallery is to showcase the art of black and latino artists to all people. Not once did we turn ANYONE away. We are very much open to having all cultures represented. Those of you that didn't come out last time, I hope to see you in attendance on April 22 @ Dolce Vita between 5 & 10. Just because we are showcasing the art of people of color does not mean we do not want white people in attendance. People are people and I love all of you DeVaughn A. Johnson--->One half of Ecclectic Intelligence

Think before you speak, experience before you make a judgement.

If you would like to meet me, ask for me, I'll be there!


Anonymous said...

As another organizer of the event, I must say that we are not being exclusive to any race. We are open to one and all, as is the establishment. The establishment is multiracial, as are any attendees. At some point, we must all stop assuming that a large number of any one race implies nonacceptance for others.

Many times, as we stood outside the establishment, we did offer for those not of color to walk in and feel the vibe. Of the many that passed, only a couple accepted. The following event had a few more 'adventurers' than the prior. But why must they be 'adventurers?'

This is a country that is supposed to be founded on the idea of inclusion. And I would invite all those who are unsure of this, to visit either the establishment and/or an event. Everyone is welcome!

Anonymous said...

Look, the harsh reality is not many white people like to be around minorities deep down. Let's be real and stop with the PC stuff since it's not fooling anyone. I'm a minority and can recall one particular nightclub in uptown Charlotte that catered to the young fratboy crowd and their blonde girlfriends, slowly black people started to predominate and it lost some of its appeal. Most people are not as open-minded as we would think.