The entirety of last week was spent preparing for the weekend and Monday. Why, you may ask. Waking up every morning with, "Do I really need a job?" on my mind and still going to work every day would drive anyone mad. But every so often, the good little worker receives his or her just reward, and it comes in the form of national holidays. If you didn't have President's Day off, I'm so sorry. I did absolutely nothing but tend to myself and I don't regret a single second. I slept in, watched "Chef's Table" on Netflix, got inspired, wrote and slept my ass off.
Just when I was starting to get #fomo (fear of missing out) thinking about the long weekend coming to an end and not filling that time with fun activities, I realized we have another big weekend coming up in the Queen City. Yes, I mean "we" and not just "me." If you've been in Charlotte for any amount of time you know that one of the most anticipated weekends each year falls around the end of February and it goes by the name of CIAA.
Every year, the Central Intercollegiate Athletic Association holds an annual basketball tournament featuring the historically black institutions of NCAA's Division II. Although the attendance at the actual basketball games has declined significantly, the amount of revenue the tournament brings to the city is undeniable. Did I mention the parties are epic?
Picture being surrounded by your best friends, popping a bottle of champagne in the middle of a Vegas-style strip club only to look up and see Champagne Papi himself partying next to you. That's just a normal night during CIAA in Charlotte. Some of the world's most famous artists flock to our city, taking the experience to a whole new level.
When I first moved to Charlotte, I was captivated by the urban nightlife scene. After all, you don't get to experience much real nightlife in Trinity, NC or as an underage college student. One of my roommates at that time worked for one of the most popular promoters in the city and you know what that meant – free entry into some of the hottest parties all year long. That connection really came in handy when Lil Wayne – my favorite rapper of all time – made an appearance at Cameo a couple years ago. Sighs, if only I could've touched one of his dreads.
Five years later, despite social tensions and allegations of local companies instituting versions of a "black tax," it never ceases to amaze me how excited I get when CIAA comes to town. A short week with a weekend full of entertainment makes for a smiling face in the office. This year, my plan is to check out a day party at a venue I haven't visited before and hit up Su Casa at Petra's. I've done the whole "stay out until 4 a.m. thing" during CIAA and as my mom always said, "Nothing good happens after 2 a.m." I'd rather capitalize on the day and pass out early or find something laidback to get into late-night.
(Not to mention, I'll probably be steeped in Dave Matthews on a party bus on Saturday. You know my coworkers, always finding a way to celebrate anything in the biggest way. This time, we're celebrating a father-to-be.)
No matter what you're doing for CIAA, here's a few things to keep in mind if you're planning on joining in on the festivities this weekend:
1. Pick your entertainment. If you're interested in twerkin' to your favorite new artist like Migos, Young Thug or Meek Mill, find out exactly where they're going to be and if they're going to be performing or just doing a walk through.
2. Dress to impress. Everyone during CIAA is "fresh to death." There's some truth behind the rumor you've heard about putting that tax refund check to good use. Just kidding, sort of.
3. Research the venue. Parking available? Too far for you to Uber? Find out as much as you can about the venue ahead of time. Especially considering a lot of venues pop up just for the weekend.
4. Expect every spot to be busy. If you're one of those Charlotteans who's scared to attend a CIAA event, I would suggest you stay in all weekend or find a hole in the wall, because every venue that's open will probably be packed.
Where do you plan on spending your CIAA weekend? Fill me in at firstname.lastname@example.org.