Saturday, April 30, 2011

I always say that eight out of 10 people I meet in Charlotte aren't from here. I can't say that my 80 percent theory is scientific, but I'm sure you would agree that Charlotte has a lot of newcomers and transplants. I've lived here for almost six years now and because of the work I do I've gotten to know the city really well. But it's easy to get caught up in the present and future and not know much about a place's history. There's no better way to learn Charlotte's story than by visiting the Cotton Fields to Skyscrapers exhibit at Levine Museum of the New South. The award-winning exhibit that debuted in 2001 has just been renovated and updated to reflect the past decade.

Levine Museum tells the history of the New South, which is defined as the period from the end of the Civil War (1865) to today. Cotton Fields to Skyscrapers is its permanent exhibit, located on the first floor, so if you've ever visited the museum you've likely journeyed through it. It's a large exhibit that literally guides you through Charlotte's history from when cotton fields dominated the landscape in the late 1800s and early 1900s to how the economy changed that eventually led to the businesses that built the skyscrapers we see in Uptown today. Or as the museum folks say, it goes from "farm to factory to finance." And along the way, you experience cool artifacts and features such as equipment from a cotton mill, a replica of an old Belk department store, a lunch counter that tells the story of Civil Rights Movement-era sit-ins, the history of integrating schools, the plight of factory workers, how Duke Energy became the largest utility company in the country, and more.

Levine Museum has been celebrating its 20th anniversary since the beginning of the year, and things ramped up this week with an elaborate and festive gala, "Taste of Time," on Thursday that drew hundreds of people, including some of the city's most prominent figures. This week also saw the reopening of Cotton Fields to Skyscrapers, which underwent a three-month renovation. It now contains an additional 750 feet of gallery space, primarily comprised of the new end section, titled "Whirlwind of Growth, 1970s-2010s." In this section, which largely reflects the changes Charlotte has experienced since 2001, you see how the big banks got bigger--Bank of America and Wachovia--and how the latter was acquired by Wells Fargo. You also see how Charlotte has become one of the South's most diverse cities.

A replica of the Bank of America Corporate Center stands tall in Cotton Fields to Skyscrapers.

The exhibit also now features many new interactive components with touchscreen technology. There's the "Remix History" feature, where you can play with digital graphics on flatscreens to manipulate historic photos (it reminds of how the folks at CNN slide things around on their big screens when telling the news). There's also "Picture Yourself in History," where you sit in front of a green screen and have your picture taken to place yourself into an historic moment. The computer allows you to email the photo to yourself so you can have a keepsake (look for these to pop up on people's Facebook pages).

But before you get to all of the cool new stuff at the end of the exhibit, you get to experience a new 10-minute intro film. Sitting in the theater at the entrance to the exhibit, you can watch a video that I guarantee will tell you some stuff about Charlotte you never knew. But you'll likely recognize the names of the voices narrating the film--former Bank of America chief Hugh McColl, NASCAR pioneer Humpy Wheeler, and radio personality Ramona Holloway.

On Tuesday I attended a media tour for the reopening of Cotton Fields to Skyscrapers. Below is a few minutes of video I captured that showcases the new section at the end. Levine Museum historian Tom Hanchett points out some of the new features; then I wander off a little on my own.

You should make sure to check it out for yourself, which you can do tomorrow (Sunday, May 1) during the museum's 20th Anniversary Community Celebration. The free event takes place 12-5 p.m. and you'll be treated to exhibit tours, music and dance performances, multimedia art, photography, family activities, and birthday cake. Levine Museum of the New South, 200 E. Seventh St., 704-333-1887,

Friday, April 29, 2011

Welcome to Charlotte, Cam

Posted by Jarvis Holliday On 4/29/2011 No comments
This afternoon at a press conference at Bank of America Stadium, the Carolina Panthers formally introduced their number-one pick from yesterday's NFL Draft. Cam Newton has a lot of hype to live up to and just as many critics to silence. But for now, welcome to Charlotte.

Cam meeting the Panthers' other number-one draft pick, Adam Smith from the Make-A-Wish Foundation.

Monday, April 25, 2011

There are two separate seminars being presented free of charge tomorrow (Tuesday, April 26) that are offering tips and skills that can benefit you professionally.

Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools' Parent University is holding a program on Effective Presentation Skills from 6:30 to 8 p.m. at Mallard Creek High School, 3825 Johnston Oehler Rd. Moira Quinn, senior vice president of communications for Charlotte Center City Partners, is presenting the program that is open to adults and high school students who want to learn more about how to make an effective presentation in public. Participants will receive tips and strategies on making presentations that are clear, concise, and engaging. Click here to register for the event. And visit from more on Parent University.

Also taking place tomorrow is a seminar on Using Twitter In Your Job Search, 7-9 p.m. at St. John's Episcopal Church, 1623 Carmel Rd. The event is being hosted by the St. John’s Episcopal Church Job Hunters Support Group and will feature Rich Sauser, Gary Zukowski, and Conrad Leao. Sauser is founder of The Public You and has trained more than 1,000 people on how to use social networking sites to help build careers and land a new job. Zukowski is an expert in the area of recruiting and job sourcing, and is president of TweetMyJOBS and EasySoft Solutions. Leao is vice president for DATA Inc., where he oversees the direction of recruiting activities which includes social media marketing. Attendees will learn how to get started with Twitter and LinkedIn; how it works and who is using it; third-party tools and related websites; how to use Twitter and other tools in a job search; and a review of companies using Twitter and other social media sites for recruiting. Although this is a free event, seating is limited so a ticket is needed to attend. Go to

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Five Days of South End Soul

Posted by Jarvis Holliday On 4/23/2011 No comments
Festival season has begun in Charlotte, and up next is one of my favorites. The South End Soul festival takes place this Tuesday, April 26 through Saturday, April 30, celebrating art, design, and innovation, and bringing together Charlotte's creative community. As South End has grown with residents and businesses--boutiques, art galleries and studios, restaurants, bars, etc.--so has this annual festival. This year it features more than 50 events over five days, including cooking demos, live music, design competitions, gallery crawls, lectures and how-to sessions, indoor and outdoor markets, wine and beer tastings, a fashion show, and more.

Here's a rundown of some of the festival's highlights. Visit the Find Your Center website for a full list of events, and also stay up to date on Facebook and Twitter.

Tuesday, April 26

Charlotte Seminar Series: Louis Foreman
The founder and CEO of Enventys and Everyday Edisons will talk about turning your creative spark into a business.11:30 a.m. $25 in advance or $30 at the door; includes lunch. Byron's South End.

Wednesday, April 27

Charlotte Social Media Breakfast
If social media is your communications tool of choice or if you want to learn more from some of Charlotte’s tweeting veterans, this is a great networking event for you. 7:30 a.m. $20; includes breakfast. Byron's South End.

Thursday, April 28

Pecha Kucha Night Charlotte, Volume 8
Pecha Kucha was created in Tokyo in 2003 as an event for young designers to meet, network, and show their work in public. Over the last two and a half years, it's become a regular event in Charlotte. Doors open 7 p.m.; event starts 7:30 p.m. $5; cash bar. Amos' Southend.

Friday, April 29

Design Your Life Festival (Friday and Saturday)
Learn how to design, remodel, and create a showplace in your own home. Visit the NARI Remodeling Show at Atherton Mill, as well as other studios and firms around The Design Center. 10 a.m.-8 p.m.

South End Gallery Crawl
Visit more than a dozen art galleries. 6-9 p.m.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Twin brothers Damian and Jermaine Johnson continue to expand their No Grease, Inc. franchise. They're now running their fourth No Grease! Barbershop with a new location they opened at Concord Mills last week. The barbershop is located in Neighborhood 5 of the massive outlet mall that's home to more than 200 stores and is North Carolina's most visited tourist attraction with an estimated 17 million visitors a year.

No Grease! recently opened at Concord Mills.

This new location is another milestone for the Johnson brothers, who raised the bar when they opened the No Grease! Exclusive Barbershop at Time Warner Cable Arena in Uptown two years ago. It's become the barbershop of choice for several high-profile clients such as business executives and professional athletes. They've also operated the No Grease! School of Tonsorial Arts, a barber school in east Charlotte, for the last eight years.

I don't know of many other locally owned barbershop franchises in Charlotte so what these guys are doing is sort of uncharted territory, a mission they began when they opened their first shop in 1997 while in their early 20s. I've gotten to know them over the last three or four years and admire not only their business acumen--they head the Urban Business Network ( also how they give back to the community such as the Cuttin' Class Community Hair Cutting Day they hold a couple of times a year in which they give free hair cuts to school children.

Jermaine and Damian Johnson at one of their free community hair cutting days last year (and me in the mirror).

For more on the No Grease! Concord Mills barbershop visit or

Monday, April 18, 2011

JCSU Breaks Ground on Mosaic Village

Posted by Jarvis Holliday On 4/18/2011 No comments
On Friday I attended Johnson C. Smith University's ground breaking ceremony for Mosaic Village, the university's ambitious project to help revitalize the northwest corridor along West Trade Street and Beatties Ford Road. Mosaic Village is planned as a mixed-use development that will include 300 student apartments, retail space, and a parking deck. It's being constructed at 1601 West Trade St., which is next to The Arts Factory, JCSU's first off-campus facility that opened last fall. The ground breaking for Mosaic Village was actually followed by an official ribbon cutting for The Ats Factory and attendees were given a tour. This was all part of JCSU's Founder's Week Celebration.

JCSU broke ground on Mosaic Village on Friday.

This project is the latest effort in JCSU President Dr. Ronald L. Carter's vision to lead his historically black university beyond its traditionally closed gates and to not only improve the community around it, but to also strengthen the school's connection to Charlotte as a whole. Carter says he'd like to see Mosaic Village opened in 14 months, but that won't come without challenges, including a $4 million funding gap that the university has asked the City of Charlotte to assist with.

Below is video I captured from Friday's ground breaking ceremony. There were a lot of people in attendance showing their support, including Mayor Anthony Foxx, City Councilman James Mitchell, Charlotte Center City Partners President Michael Smith, members of the Griffin family who own the land, and plenty of community and business leaders, alumni, and neighborhood residents. It's not often that you see such a variety of people coming together on this part of town.

Last night I attended the Music Video Release Party at Lux for Jocelyn Ellis' new single, "One Step Closer." It was a great turnout as Charlotte's creative community and music industry enthusiasts came out to support one of the city's rising stars.

I was impressed with the quality and creativity of the video, which was directed by Devin Johnson and J.E.'s manager Giovani Gonzalez. "One Step Closer," available on iTunes, is written by J.E. and produced by Benie Beatz--the two have been making some great music together--and is a dance/pop/Euro-infused song that further adds to the eclecticism J.E. is becoming known for. Check out the video below and visit for more details.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Unless you don't have a TV or Internet access or have been avoiding public interaction, you know about Charlie Sheen's antics/meltdown of the last couple of months. And as people have been fascinated with watching Sheen's train wreck, one of the few things that was actually funny was his seemingly made-up-on-the-spot catchphrases, of which the most popular has been "winning." So when Charlotte Bobcats owner Michael Jordan said the word this week in response to an off-putting question about Sheen, "winning" took on even more connotations.

A scene from one of the Hanes TV commercials Michael Jordan and Charlie Sheen starred in together a couple of years ago.

The Charlotte Observer published a series of articles this week about the Bobcats and how their season went, which ended Wednesday night. Earlier that day, Jordan engaged in an hour-long Q&A with reporters and editors from the Observer. He doesn't grant a lot of interviews, but when he does he seems to make himself available in a way that says "ask me all your questions now because it'll be another few months before I talk to you again." While I give him credit for talking to local media more during this past year of him being the team's majority owner than he did the previous four years when he owned a small percentage of the team and ran basketball operations, I think he should grant even more interviews because he's usually candid in a way that fans appreciate and addresses the concerns they might have. Plus, when he talks, he lessens the need for the speculation that surrounds any team.

Here are links to a couple of the Observer stories that came out of their interview with Jordan:
It's in the Sorensen piece that the writer reveals he asked Jordan about his relationship with Charlie Sheen. Here's how he described it:

Jordan is the equalizer. The Jordan brand fills the boardroom. Jordan is charismatic and glib and sounds committed. If he’s acting, he’s too good for a Hanes commercial with Charlie Sheen.

Speaking of which – the bond between Michael and Charlie in the Hanes commercial was more than acting. Human beings are not capable of such work. No, there was something real between them. It was exciting to watch, two performers at the top of their craft.

Michael, I ask, were you surprised by Charlie’s implosions and have you reached out to him?

“I, I, I mean I don’t even know how to respond to that one,” says Jordan. “I’ve had a lot of other things on my mind – winning. So my relationship with Charlie is not one where we communicate that way. I did a commercial with him two, three years ago.”

Jordan clearly doesn't want to be associated with Sheen at this point--I don't blame him. He seems to take it in jest though as Sorensen said Jordan laughed when furthering his response by saying: "I haven’t spent any time with Charlie. Don’t put me there."

But does Jordan realize that he said "winning"? Is he sure he didn't get that from Sheen? I wonder if he said it the way Sheen does. More importantly, Jordan needs to bring some "tiger blood" to the team this offseason in the form of an exciting free agent. After a season in which the Bobcats fired their head coach, traded away their best player, and finished with a terrible record, just one year after making the playoffs for the first time in team history and leading many to believe that things were turning around, Jordan has to get it right next season. Or he risks losing fans' interest forever.

So back to the Jordan-Sheen connection. I've posted two YouTube videos below. The first is of the Hanes commercial that ran for a couple of years, showing Sheen trying to become buds with Jordan, even tossing his phone into Jordan's car. The second video is that same commercial but parodied, as someone's replaced the audio with what they humorously assert as what Sheen would say if the commercial was filmed in 2011.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Charlotte's 2011 concert season keeps getting better. It's recently been announced that Wiz Khalifa is bringing his "Rolling Papers World Tour" to Charlotte on July 20 to Time Warner Cable Uptown Amphitheatre (the latest corporate-sponsored name for the amphitheater located at NC Music Factory). Tickets go on sale to the general public on April 20, as in 4/20, thanks to the Mary Jane-loving Wiz.

Wiz is certainly the hottest rapper to break onto the scene in the past year and a half, thanks largely to his monster hit/tribute to Pittsburgh, "Black and Yellow." He also built a large following before he attained mainstream success. The Taylor Gang, as his loyal fans are known, have been riding with him for a while due to his social media prowess, and the grind that keeps him traveling to perform in cities large and small almost every night of the week. This tour, however, represents his growing star power since he'll be playing medium-size to large venues. Members of the Taylor Gang Fan Club are able to buy pre-sale concert tickets beginning tomorrow.

I can't say I've jumped on the Wiz Khalifa bandwagon just yet (it doesn't matter--Amber Rose did). I like some of his songs, but it hasn't propelled me to download any of his mixtapes or buy his album. Once I'm a fan of an artist, I buy every CD he/she puts out (which is sadly becoming fewer and farther between).

I am excited about one of his guests on the tour, though: Big Sean. In case you aren't familiar, Big Sean is the G.O.O.D. Music (the record label run by Kanye West) artist that's bubbling now after years of hard work. His new single, "My Last" featuring Chris Brown, is currently one of my favorite songs (I've posted the video below). I respect his lyricism and the fresh air he's bringing to hip-hop. I'm anticipating that he'll have a breakout year this year.

The opening act for the tour is Chevy Woods, a fellow Pittsburgh rapper and member of Wiz's crew. I'm not that familiar with him though. This will actually be Wiz's third show in Charlotte in little more than a year. He performed at Amos' Southend last June, but that was before "Black and Yellow" catapulted him. And he was here just last month at Club 935 during the mass-load of events that were going on while the CIAA Tournament was in town. But as I mentioned earlier, this is pretty much Wiz's first real tour. And playing the high-as-a-kite character like he did at Amos and other similar-sized venues and nightclubs isn't going to translate well to the large stage at the amphitheater. He's going to need to show that he can command a stage that size.

Of the 27 dates announced for the tour, three are in the Carolinas: July 18 at House of Blues in North Myrtle Beach; July 20 at Time Warner Cable Uptown Amphitheatre here in Charlotte; and July 21 at White Oak Amphitheatre in Greensboro. For more details, visit

Monday, April 11, 2011

Grown People Talking turned three years old today. Unlike some milestones, it actually does feel like a significant amount of time has passed since I launched this blog on April 11, 2008. I guess it's because I've chronicled so many experiences, moments, and topics, which almost always pertain to Charlotte. And I've had a lot of fun doing it, which is why I believe I've continued to keep it going whereas I've seen plenty of other blogs come and go.

Over the past year, some things have changed however. Most significantly, in December I began writing a nightlife blog for Charlotte magazine called "Dusk Till Dawn". That's been so far so good as well, but because of it I don't blog on GPT as much as I have in the past and is why you don't find much about nightlife on here anymore. But when you add up the number of posts between the two sites, I'm probably blogging as much as ever. It's been nice to have a blog with a singular focus, which is what DTD allows me to do as I opine on Charlotte nightlife ranging from happy hour to late-night. If you haven't been reading it, you might want to if you're looking to navigate the party and social scene in this city. And here on GPT, I pretty much write about everything else related to Charlotte: sports, music, entertainment, arts, education, business, politics, philanthropy, community issues, and more.

From the beginning of GPT, I've blogged about what I want, when I want, which is the kind of creative control most creative people love to have. It's a great balance to my "day job" as a freelance writer when I'm writing stories that first begin as an idea I usually pitch to an editor, which he/she must first approve of before I proceed to write the story, that he/she then edits or asks me to revise. I respect the process, though, because it usually makes the story better, but sometimes it's just good to say what you want, how you want. And since day one, this blog has helped me become a better freelance writer, I think, because it keeps me plugged into the city and people I cover in between the articles that appear in monthly magazines.

But while there are some selfish reasons as to why I maintain Grown People Talking, there are also reasons I do it that I think others appreciate. I often get emails from readers who thank me for keeping them informed on what's going on in Charlotte and for adding my perspective. And I especially take pride in being able to write about a community event or nonprofit organization, and do a small part in helping spread their message and perhaps be the reason a few more people showed up to volunteer at an event.

GPT is getting more traffic than ever, so that's more motivation for me to continue it. Like I do each year, below I've listed the top-five blog posts that received the most page views during the past year. In parenthesis are the dates the articles were originally posted, and I measured the traffic from April 11, 2010 to April 10, 2011, which is for the last twelve months. So when you take that into consideration, it's remarkable that interest in Sonya Curry continues to lead the way after more than two years and that the Sun Drop post ranks so high after being up less than a month. According to Google Analytics, 45 percent of my traffic comes from search engines, and there are just certain topics and names that draw people to the site.
  1. Two Things I Realized About Sonya Curry (February 13, 2009)
  2. CIAA 2011 Parties and Events: The List (January 17, 2011)
  3. Sun Drop Is Dropping It Like It's Hot in Funny Commercial (March 15, 2011)
  4. Charlotte's Kendra James Is a 'Bad Girl' (December 2, 2009)
  5. Facebook Campaign to Bring Jacinda Back to 'The Beat' (April 29, 2010)
Cheers to another great year as I celebrate this third birthday! And may the best be yet to come. Thank you for your continued support.
There's a Port Charlotte, the small coastal city in Florida. But what if our own Charlotte was a port city? If our growing Uptown skyline was laid against the ocean? This is what it would look like.

North Carolina Port Authority's new marketing campaign seeks to reinforce the economic value of the state's ports to even inland cities like Charlotte, Raleigh, and Asheville. What we get are cool renderings of what these cities would look like if they were on the water. Charlotte would rival cities like Miami. But for that to happen, every North Carolina town east of us, from Albemarle to Kinston, would have to fall off into the Atlantic Ocean. It's cool to look at though.

For more info, visit

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Eyes of the Elders, the genre-blending rap/rock band from Charlotte, is currently competing in the Road to Roo online challenge. Two winning bands/artists will get to perform at the coveted Bonnaroo Music and Arts Festival this year.

Charlotte's rap/rock band, Eyes of the Elders.

Here's how the competition works. More than 450 bands and artists from around the country signed onto the Road to Roo. Fans have been voting for their favorite band for weeks, and the top eight will move on to the next round when online voting ends April 15. Voting is in the form of downloading the band's song (the download is a free mp3). At the time that I'm typing this, Eyes of the Elders is sitting in tenth place. That's impressive in itself, considering they've moved above more than 400 other acts. So now they need you to help them advance at least two more spots in the rankings.

The top eight artists will move on to be reviewed by Bonnaroo's music supervisors, and from there two will be selected to play Bonnaroo when the festival takes place June 9-12 in Manchester, Tennessee. These two bands will receive $1,000 and get their name on the lineup of artists scheduled to perform, which includes Eminem, Arcade Fire, Lil Wayne, Mumford & Sons, Alison Krauss, My Morning Jacket, Wiz Khalifa, Widespread Panic, The Black Keys, The Strokes, and dozens more.

Led by emcees Bearcat and Ricky Radar, Eyes of the Elders formed in Charlotte in 2004. Over the years, the group has evolved--lost and gained members--but since 2008, backing up Bearcat and Ricky Radar has been drummer Jacob Gresham, guitarist and vocalist Boss Jones, and bassist Jason Pentecost. Also known as EOE, they blend their Southern roots into rap and rock in a way that catches you off guard at first, but then you start to nod to the beat and realize the lyrics are quite clever and sometimes humorous. These dudes are more Southern (aka good ole boy) than what I typically encounter in this city of transplants. A couple of years ago they released a song titled "Spitcup," in which they compare spitting raps to chewing tobacco.

Now you can enjoy such songs as "A Powerful Thirst," which is featured on their page in the Road to Roo competition. And "American Man," as you can see in the music video below.

Click here to vote for Eyes of the Elders until April 15. And for more on the band, visit their website at or on Facebook at

Friday, April 8, 2011

Style Week Charlotte Kicks Off

Posted by Jarvis Holliday On 4/08/2011 No comments
Style Week Charlotte begins today and runs through next Saturday, April 16, highlighting the Queen City's ever-growing style and fashion scene. Charlotte Style Magazine and its publisher Bridgette West have created this nine-day celebration, inviting several businesses and event planners to participate, and elevating it from what was typically a one-day event. For the past few years, the magazine has crowned the 25 Most Stylish People in Charlotte with both an issue of the publication and a signature event. This red carpet affair takes place tomorrow at Mercedes Benz of South Charlotte.

There are plenty more events going on over the next week. It all kicks off this evening with Say Red: Cocktails and Conversations, 7-9 p.m. at BluPrint Restaurant, a new restaurant located at 227 W. Trade St. (in the same building as Morton's Steakhouse). This networking social is sure to draw Charlotte's fashionable community and will feature complimentary appetizers and giveaways. Admission is free, however a suggested donation of $5 is requested to go towards supporting Team Red Pump-Charlotte for the May 7 AIDS Walk.

Other notable events on the Style Week Charlotte schedule include the Tailored Tuesday mixer on April 12 at Chima Brazilian Steakhouse; a Spring Fashion Crawl and Wine Tasting on April 14 at Morrison Place; then it all culminates with a big event, Passport For Fashion, on April 16 at Reelworks Movie Studio at NC Music Factory.

For more details, ticket prices, and the full schedule of events, go to

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

"Charlotte, Get Your Move On!" is a youth-focused initiative dedicated to improving the overall health and quality of life for Charlotte adolescents by empowering them to make positive behavioral decisions. Led by Teen Health Connection, this Friday and Saturday, April 8 and 9, the organization is holding events for the community.

Friday's event is a Community Performance taking place 7:30 p.m. at Elevation at Blakeney (8835 Blakeney Professional Drive). The entire family is welcome to attend this event, which features a performance by InnerACTIONS, a teen educational outreach project from California that uses a blend of film and live performances to deliver positive messages and thought-provoking ideas about the pressures youth face today. Not only will you see the InnerACTIONS crew perform hip-hop dance, skits, and live music, but the event will also feature Charlotte-area youth dancers. Admission to this event is free, and it should be noted that mature themes will be presented (suicide, alcohol/drug use, and bullying) so it may not be appropriate for young children.

Click on flyer for larger view.

On Saturday, CGYMO presents a Youth Conference from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. at Northwest School of the Arts (1415 Beatties Ford Road). The conference will focus on "Prevention Thru Inspiration," and will feature a performance by InnerACTIONS. There will also be breakout sessions with professionals in fields such as music, fashion, journalism, auto mechanics, web design, photography, horticulture, and more. The goal of the sessions is to help attendees discover and explore inner passions, including youth leadership. The conference is free to all teens, but pre-registration is required (click here). Lunch as well as T-shirts and goodie bags will be provided.

Click on flyer for larger view.

For more details on Charlotte, Get Your Move On! and the upcoming events, visit

Below is a video clip of InnerACTIONS performing.

Monday, April 4, 2011

I pretty much assumed this long before the official numbers were released today: last month's CIAA Tournament drew a colossal crowd. The Charlotte Regional Visitors Authority said today that it estimates attendance for official 2011 CIAA Tournament events exceeded 190,000 and provided an economic impact of $44.3 million to the local economy, a 19 percent increase from last year. Both numbers are records for the tournament, which took place February 28 through March 5. It's been held annually in Charlotte since 2006 and is contracted to be here through 2014.

The CRVA stated the attendance figures for "official" CIAA events, which primarily includes the six days of basketball games at Time Warner Cable Arena and the Fan Experience the CIAA puts on for three days at Charlotte Convention Center. But anyone who's ever visited Charlotte that last week in February/first week in March knows it's also the hundreds of unofficial events held during CIAA Week that draw large crowds--the parties, concerts, comedy shows, mixers, etc. In fact, the head of MAZ Entertainment, one of Charlotte's largest party promoters who holds several events during CIAA each year, posted the photo you see below to his Facebook page over the weekend. Thousands of people attended this party they threw at Founders Hall in Uptown on March 5. My guess is this was probably the largest party of CIAA Week, but there were literally hundreds more going on at bars, nightclubs, and hotel ballrooms.

MAZ's Founders Hall Finale was one of the largest parties during CIAA Week.

It's impossible to accurately count how many people actually visited Charlotte during CIAA Week. Even the CRVA's figures don't exclude duplications, meaning if you attended an official CIAA event on Thursday and Friday you would've been counted twice as a visitor. But that's fine because they don't have methods of including all the people who came to Charlotte that week just to go to parties. So the most important figure is the $44.3 million, which represents the money spent at Charlotte hotels, restaurants, and other businesses that week. This has become the economic boon the Queen City looks forward to each winter, which is typically a slow tourist season here. That money adds to tax revenue and helps create and sustain jobs.

As the CIAA Tournament continues to grow, as it has done each year in Charlotte, conference officials need to make more strides to draw visitors to official events, particularly the basketball games. There were dozens of games played over six days at the arena between the men and women's teams from the CIAA's 13 colleges and universities. Attendance at many of these games was meek, especially in comparison to the kind of crowds that were turning out for parties and concerts taking place at other venues. CIAA schools have enrollments that range from 750 to 7,000 students, so its tournament games will never draw the kind of attendance that the ACC Tournament, with its large schools, does. But CIAA officials can do a better job of selling the CIAA experience at its games and events, which differs from larger sports conferences.

Friday, April 1, 2011

While the Charlotte Bobcats attempt a late-season push to make the NBA playoffs, the beautiful ladies who cheer them on are gearing up for competition as well. The Lady Cats are competing in the annual NBA Dance Team Contest, which begins Monday, April 4. They won the title last year, so this will be the first time they're entering as defending champions. The Lady Cats are a favorite again this go-round, as are the Heat Dancers of Miami, who've won the competition several times. But we're taking our talents to Trade Street!

Click here beginning Monday at 2 p.m. to vote for the Lady Cats, where you'll also see video of them performing a burlesque dance.

For some reason, just now the video for Drake's "Best I Ever Had" came to mind.

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