June 25th, 2012
A few weeks ago I found myself having an intense conversation at E-Villa (917 Cathedral) with a group of Baltimore promoters, deejays, bloggers and venue owners. The topic of choice was once again the never ending discussion of upscale nightlife in Baltimore.
Sparked by our day party post, it felt like déjà vu; a topic we wrote about over a year ago and one that still hasn’t seen much change.
During our conversation at E-Villa, I left with the perception that many felt defeated from years of trying to enhance the Baltimore nightlife scene with more options and had finally accepted that it wouldn’t change. “It’s impossible,” one promoter told me, “you just have to accept it for what it is.”
Do I really? Do we really? I don’t think so. Many Friday nights, my friends and I still find ourselves asking just what we were asking last year:
Picture this: It’s Friday night and you’re ready for a fancy night out on the town with your girls. You don’t feel like making the drive down 295 just to have a good time in D.C. Instead, you’d rather rock stilettos and sip on martinis in Charm City. You want to stay local and dance the night away with a young professional crowd. No fights. No shootings. No drama. You just want to have a good time with like minded people. But, where can you go?
Mirage in Baltimore
My answer continues to be that instead of expecting others to curate your nightlife experience, gather up a group of friends and find venues and bars to satisfy your taste. You can also head to monthly young professional events like the Alley Cat Lounge Live Music Series at Mirage (401 W. Baltimore) or any event held by the The Baltimore Urban League.
Still, wanting to get input from some of the city’s leading promoters, I caught up with Azikiwe of Events 4 Good People (the winner of Bmore Fab!’s Promoter of the Year Award), DeJuan of DeJuan D Hov Events Team and Zeke of Trix & Zeke to hear their thoughts on how more options can be provided for young professional nightlife lovers in Baltimore.
I started Events 4 Good People ten years ago for this very reason. I felt like the city didn’t have a lot of options when it came to upscale partying and I found myself hosting get togethers for my friends, that’s when I knew I had to turn it in to something bigger. I’ve had many successful young professional/upscale event series over the years, but in order to continue them they have to be supported whether its weekly, bi-weekly or monthly. Also, I want to remind people who can sometimes be hard on certain promoters, that you have to remember the “birds of a feather” theory. If a promoter isn’t considered a “young professional/upscale” themselves, you shouldn’t expect them to have that type of crowd or event especially on a regular basis.
What most don’t realize about Baltimore is that when it comes to nightlife we rely on and love the locals. It’s not like other big cities where tourist and people of all walks of life come just to experience the nightlife. For example at upscale parties in DC, you don’t typically find a lot of natives. It’s not like that in Baltimore, but still my team prides itself in hosting events for everyone. One week we can be hosting something that’s black tie and the next week a day party that seem more like a cook out. I believe that Baltimore can have an upscale nightlife, it’s just not going to be consistent, but it’s still possible.
I think that we need to constantly keep discussing this topic amongst young professionals and promoters in Baltimore so that we can make it better. We want to give them more options, however it seems like when a new young professional happy hour or event series starts it’s only supported for the first few weeks or so and then it kind of dwindles down. Talk to us, tell us what day of the week you’d like to go out, where you want to go, how much you’re willing to spend and how often do you want to come out. We need not only the support, but the advice as well. We’re working on different options for different crowds and hope to make it better in the near future. By the way we’d love The Fab Empire to come back to another day party!
Nothing will change if we don’t speak up or change it ourselves, right?
One suggestion I will add is also thinking of the quality of the events as well. I’ve attended some great quality events where the quality was encouraging. These types of events also encourage attendees to trust or patronize the venue again. When that occurs, we can then think of those quality moments as an investment in Baltimore. We have the power to bring prosperity (culture, financial and even advocacy) to the city. So let’s (forgive the pun) keep the party going and plan smarter, think bigger and pay it forward.
As always, great stuff Mia!
As a correspondent for thefabempire, I usually only go out to events that I cover for this site because I know 9 times out of 10, I won’t have to worry about my safety or just having to witness any type of rachetness. I will say that the same can be said for anywhere. D.C also has it’s gutter places. I have to agree with DeJuan when he says DC has the tourists to rely on and Baltimore nightlife mostly depends on the locals. I think that we should be more openminded to different events and places around the area. It never hurts to step out the box and try something new.
by Beatrice Bangura
It’s ironic that this article was paired in an email blast with recaps for several upscale events. The Coors Light event wasn’t “upscale” in the traditional sense, but it certainly wasn’t “hood” and attracted a mixed and problem-free crowd. Also the Alley Cats Lounge was clearly an event specifically geared to young professionals with everything we say Baltimore is missing. I think the more appropriate title for this article is “Baltimore’s Shirking Young Professionals: Now we have the events where are the YP’s”
@Zik id have to disagree. Young professionals are everywhere but i feel like promoters only market to the same people and the same ways. We want to come out and ill admit i wont be out every week- but more options would be nice.
As a young professional/student in Baltimore I’m often confronted with a dearth of suitable nightlife in Baltimore. Most of the time, I drive all the way to DC the few nights that I decide to go out (even though the new nightclub Mirage is right across the street from where I live). But then I realize that it’s not necessarily that there aren’t nice places to go in Baltimore, it’s just that I don’t know about them. I’m sure that that there are more nice places to go in DC, but also DC promoters, DJs, etc do a VERY good job of informing people about places and events. I think if young professionals in Baltimore KNEW about all the nice places then they will definitely go. Promoters, DJs, radio personalities, advertisers should try and reach out to all the students and young professionals in Baltimore by somehow trying to advertise where we will actually see the information.
As a non-Baltimorean, and having partied in a few major black metropolitan areas, here is my take on this and there are 2 major problems.
1.) The biggest problem that has and has always had is a lack of options/competition. On any given night there is generally only one spot to hit that is not a small venue with a relatively private event and is really targeting this demographic you are talking about. The larger venues operate without having real competition on any given night. Lack of competition makes clubs promoters/owners lazy in their effort to retain the ones they have and also what it will do to attract new patrons. A lot of places I have hit carry things like just because their doors are open I should be happy I have a place to party. That attitude is not worth coming back to. Competition for patrons, especially when you are battling for the same set of clientele, will only help to increase the quality of what the venue offers and the creativity with which a promoter/owner goes after them.
2.) As stated, you are generally only going to find locals in these spots. That being said, when you are not from here and you hit one of these clubs it feels like you are trying to sneak into someone’s backyard bbq and attempting to blend in so you don’t get kicked out. In the least, I think there should be more cross promoting being done so that you do not get the same group of people following the same promoter to the same venues. I do not see how any one promoter is going to be able to create this thriving black middle class night life that Baltimore does not have, not so sure that it even wants which may explain its lack of success, but maybe collectively something can get done.
by The R
I have lived in Baltimore my entire life (except for college) I work in DC and only go to DC clubs … For one I know it is safer… Baltimore seems to only keep bare bones ( I call them warehouse clubs) and that is just not where professionals want to hang or spend their monies… upscale is Park and 14th not BMX. I believe that radio support plays a huge part … have you listened to Bmore radio it DOES NOT appeal to professionals… Bmore radio is for that hood element that causes professionals to not want to go to a club/lounge… Look at ATL they have more clubs and lounges and all of the HOT nites are hosted by local radio.. Frank Ski comes back to town for the night and everybody and their mother shows up… If 92Q invested in on air talent that appealed to more than homie on the corner the club scene would improve or at the very least go back to my parents old Gatsby days.
by loyal fab reader
Baltimore is such a tough city. Dejaun and Beatrice are correct. The DMV has its ghettos as well. Probably even worse than Baltimore. It’s just that the DMV has so many implants and tourist, nobody really recognizes. Baltimore is not so lucky.
Baltimore’s nightlife venues are just as nice as DMV nightlife venues. But the people that fill Baltimore’s venues are not who I would like to be around. So I go to the DMV, although you still have to be careful where you go. Just ask Lavar Arrington about his nightclub venture.
I really love Baltimore though. Finding a nice place to go in Baltimore is like finding a diamond in the rough. I like to go to places like Pazo, XS, Red Maple, Eden’s, and now E-Villa. I’m sure there are more, but…
What is also funny is when I am out in DC and see the Ravens in DC. I here more about the Ravens in DC clubs than the Redskins. Probably the main reason for this is the diversity and the amount of nice looking & exotic looking chicks in DC. The diversity in Baltimore is lacking and there are a lot of overweight chicks in Baltimore. At the same time, you will see very beautiful chicks in Bmore and the nicest looking chicks in DC clubs are from Baltimore.
Baltimore is not know for it’s professional nightlife. Baltimore is known more for it’s realness. Baltimore is a beautiful city with a sexiness all its own. It needs to grow more, bring more business & investors to Baltimore, and clean up some of your horrible neighborhoods. Still looks too much like The Wire. This brings more professionals to the city which will populate BMore nightlife with more professionals.
Also black Baltmore nightlife is filled with too much gold teeth, corn rolls, big beards, jeans hanging below the ass, foam posits, etc. Looks scary. Just cleaning up the appearance will improve the quality of nightlife.
by Rain Maker
Let’s take a moment here. One of the reasons I love Baltimore is because of it’s diversity. In order to uplift the city and encourage growth, we have to make sure we don’t look down on what makes the city beautiful. Everyone deserves to be able to have their type of fun (as long as it’s legal) in a safe environment. The terms “hood” “ghetto”, etc…might be labels that are readily available, but let’s try not to generalize. Instead, let’s do like many have already suggested here, let’s focus on empowering or at least respecting each other.
by loyal fab reader
I think that there was never really a GREAT Baltimore nightlife. The major reason is because Baltimore is really a blue collar city so it is often difficult to find the professional element. It has concerned me, when out at events promotes by friends of mine, that I see a lot of rachetness. I often question “is this really my city?” I would have to say I understand now why people are shocked when I tell them where I was born and raised. All this to say that the nightlife may never change because the city may never change. Good luck to the promoters!!
by S. dot
I lived in Baltimore for 7 years, went to Morgan State and I must say, my whole time there any time I wanted to party or lounge, an RS Entertainment was ALWAYS my go to. Does anyone know what happened to those guys (Brian, AJ, Derek, and Jerrell)? When I was at Morgan, I have to honestly say, they had epic house parties, great themes, free drinks, great memories! The Pajama Parties and Birthday Parties at Dutch Village were classic (people so faded they were doing flipping competitions in the backyard lol), and that Beach Party, wow, in an apartment with REAL SAND. Insane. I mean epic, movie like house parties with no cover, free drinks, only good fun loving folks allowed, and never any fights! Even as we all graduated, they started doing lounge parties, special events like Black Wallstreet and even classic Ski Trips with concerts and weekends of open bar for us young professionals. Those were the good times that Baltimore is missing. I don’t know what happened, but those were the only really young professional events happening in the city in my opinion. No shade to the other promoters doing their thing in the city, but for real I feel like we need RS Entertainment or someone who thinks outside the box like them to bring those good feelings and good time type of events back to the city. i think that might change everything. #JustSaying
by Quick Thought...
Great discussion, unfort we just have to accept the nightlife scene here for what it is. If you want options you have to make that drive down 295.
Great convo. I love my city. The city seemed divided and offered options at one point. For example, when I came to lemongrass the crowd was perfect and the music was perfect for that crowd. I believe the event, promoter and DJ has to all fit together. You can’t have a DJ that primarily known for DJing Dubia or those hood events now doing grown and sexy or “young professional events”. I will not attend your event. I remember when the promoter demanded the best from their crowd an offer the best in venue and DJ. I’ve watched the White Party transform into something distasteful. I rather a grown and sexy or “young professional” promoter give me what I want. A nice venue and a DJ that fits. Lil Mic, Quicksilva or Infame. Not these DJs that DJ a Dope boy and now a “young professional” event. What sense does that make. They only play Gucci and not my favorite Songs period. I loved lemongrass and the music was different and the venue was excellent. The promoter just need to get back to the basics. The reason that ppl fell in love with their events. Money isn’t everything. Great venue, DJ and the rest is history.
by Baltimore Ultimate Event Supporter
I don’t think it’s up to the promoters to create a culture – they just need to follow/enhance what happens organically. I really agree w Fab’s comments about getting your friends together and making a social life. Baltimore has plenty of cool venues that that are dominated by one social group at a time. I think the key to a cosmopolitan nightlife culture is not about some subjective notion of an ‘urban/young professional’, but rather about diversity. Diversity in terms of the crowd demographics, vibe, timing, activity, and cost. Most busy young people aren’t trying to do the same thing with the same people and the same music every time they go out, whether it’s weekly, monthly or quarterly. Securing a crowd of regulars isn’t the real endgame; it should be about attracting new folks to different events. The reality is the nightlife people are thirsty for is created when the crowd includes couples on date night, singles, girls/fellas night-out crews, out-of-towners, people randomly celebrating a raise, birthday, etc. and the occasional local celebs. Diversity is also important when it comes to the actual activity. By the time people graduate college, they have done the club thing to death. We need different atmospheres: gallery openings, live music, themed parties, indoor/outdoor, day/night, casual/dressy, sports-related, happy hours, DJ/personality hosted. A lot of these things are happening, but every clique is still doing the same old thing instead of risking a new spot while it’s still undiscovered by most. It really is on us to start rubbing elbows with different crowds. We gotta stop being scared to be the only black people in the room or the only women or the only people dressed up –> that’s how it starts.
I went Mirage Last Saturday and it was great! I almost felt like I was outside of Baltimore. The crowd was dressed nice. The DJ was very entertaining. He played a mixture of music that all blended. He is very talented. I would recommend Mirage on a Saturday. Give it a try. I did and was impressed. Shout out to the promoters that put that together.
Thank You Bmore Fab for starting a much needed and interesting debate on Baltimore Nightlife. The promoters need to hear what the people have to say and the people need to hear what the promoters have to say. Great Job on covering both sides of this topic!
by Forever Fab
Awesome conversation. Amid the events, celeb sightings, etc. seems like these kind of posts get the most reaction on this site, pretty telling. Also applaud everyone for being insightful and objective, avoiding the “them niggas over there”-ness that often rears its head in conversations such as this. Also +1 for staying civil…that other thread was a train wreck.
by Hiding Place
I’ll give you the definite answer straight. Baltimore is a blue collar town. Its not the crowds, nor the venues its just that this city has its identity no matter what race you hang around. I mean people here are comfortable with drinking $1 beers and wearing jeans and t-shirts.
I’ve seen so many spots open and close (Lava Lounge, Bohangers, Hammerjacks, Mist, Angels Rock Bar, Tunnel, Choices, Lux aka X Lounge, Palma, Dubai, Milan, Babalu, Aqua) just to name several. This mentality affects the entire landscape not just upscale entertainment. I’m in my early 30′s and I usually going to restaurant and hotel bars. I like to get dressed up and go out but this is a town of Oriole Baseball and Bo Beer. If you’re not throwing private parties in the county (Towson, Cockeyville, etc) there’s really not much.
Baltimore is content with it’s casual lifestyle. It’s still a recession. Think about it, “the local casuals” are saying why should I pay for a $12 drink when I can go to Calladaghs and drink a $1 beer!!!! Its the mentality. There was a Baltimore Magazine article that said The Prime Rib (known for a strict dress code Jackets required) started to relax because of people balking at wearing a jacket! I go to Flemmings Steakhouse the other day and they allow people to come in with T-Shirts and shorts. That should tell you something right there.
I’d say 65% don’t care about upscale or dressing up in the city. I appauld the promoters for coming out with great events but we can’t get this area to change this mentality.
I love Baltimore the way it is. What you see is what you get. I love the “house party” feel at most of the parties. Bmore is very diverse. I prefer spending my money wearing whatever I want, because I come to party and enjoy myself, and not impress anyone. Gone are the days when people wanted to “dress to impress”. Those people are now a minority. Promoters need to take Baltimore for what it is, and not try to make Baltimore another DC/NY!!
Define upscale to me? Define young professional? Do you see anything “upscale” about Baltimore City? And young professionals in this economy? To me these are people who prefer calling themselves young professionals, and not even professionals in anything, but looking cool and sophisticated on a Saturday night!!
Baltimore is based on real life, and more real you get, the more you will love it!! Party on my young professionals!!! ONE LOVE
by Love The King
RSS feed for comments on this post. TrackBack URL