When tackling a big project, it's always important to have a plan in place. That's why this year, for our annual CIAA guide, we offer you a thorough checklist to make sure you don't miss out on anything. Since this may be the last year the Central Intercollegiate Athletic Association hosts the annual basketball tournament in Charlotte — organizers say they will open up a formal bid for interested cities to submit proposals to host the weeklong event — it's more important than ever to partake in the festivities. Sure, it can get a little crazy, but that's to be expected with tens of thousands of visitors coming to cheer on their schools in the games, reunite with fellow alumni and escape the hum-drum of everyday, 9-to-5 life.
For the best of times, take into consideration the events we've highlighted below. Of course, we couldn't list every party — many of which are probably being finalized as this goes to press — so check out the big list here.
As Rihanna sang so authoritatively: "Cheers to the freakin' weekend!"
THE DAY PARTIES
• Tip-Off Spectacular Day Party. WPEG Power 98 presents this day party hosted by DJ Incognito. For tickets, call 704-971-7878 or visit Eventbrite.com and search "Tip-Off Spectacular." Free before 3 p.m. $5-$10. Feb. 27, 1 p.m. to 7 p.m. Suite, 210 E. Trade St.
• 9th Annual Déjà Vu Day Party. Typically catering to the 30-and-up crowd, Digital Divas presents this party for the ninth year, with music from DJ Daddy D. $23 and up. Feb. 28, 1 p.m.-7 p.m. Blue Restaurant & Bar, 214 N. Tryon St. For more information, visit www.digitaldivas-events.com.
• Flyy Day. Veterans of CI partying will want to check out this new venue for its tournament week debut. Presented by Blue Goose Entertainment, DJ Complete is tasked with getting you hype for the weekend. We're confident he won't have any problems doing so. Tapas menu available. $20 and up. Feb. 28, 12 p.m. to 7 p.m. Bubble, 210 E. Trade St. For more information, visit www.bluegoosenc.com.
• 9th Annual Day Party Headquarters — Turned Up. Presented by Talk of the Town, LK and R&R Productions. Formerly at Fox and Hound, the ninth edition of this annual Thursday day party, this year hosted by Big Tigger and Tap Money, takes over the N.C. Music Factory. $30 and up. Feb. 28, 12 p.m.-12 a.m. The Saloon/The Comedy Zone, 900 N.C. Music Factory Blvd. To purchase tickets, visit www.talkofthetownent.com.
• SoL: Day Party. Wanna smoke a lil' something? Crave is known for its fantastic flavors of hookah (what'd you think we were suggesting?). This party, presented by Forward Vision Group, will feature food, hookahs and live music from DJ Cuzzin B. $25 and up. Feb. 28, 1 p.m.-6 p.m. Crave Dessert Bar, 500 W. 5th St. For more information, visit www.fvgpresents.com/ciaa.
• Ladies & Gents Day Party. Cue the classic R&B song "My Pony." Ginuwine and Morris Chestnut are scheduled to appear at this day party, hosted by Power 98's No Limit Larry. $30 and up. March 1, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Black Hollywood, 301 E. 9th St. For more information, visit Eventbrite.com and search "Ladies and Gents."
• The Classics. This party features world-renowned DJ/producer 9th Wonder, DJ Cuzzin' B, DJ Face & True School. Advance tickets sold out. March 1, 1 p.m.-7 p.m. Howl At The Moon, 210 E. Trade St. For more information, visit www.classics.eventbee.com.
• Punanny: Because when's the next time we'll get to put that word in print? This party will be held at Uptown Cabaret, and is described as the day party for "guys who love girls, girls who love girls." Hosted by Love & Hip-Hop's Erica Mena. $20 and up. March 1, 12 p.m.-7 p.m. Uptown Cabaret, 108 E. Morehead St. Search "Punanny" on Eventbrite.com for tickets.
• Fresh Groove. What would tournament week be without Doug E. Fresh? Presented by Six Figure Entertainment, with DJ Bro-Rabb, DJ Hot Rod and DJ Lil Bee spinning the tunes. $35 and up. March 1, 12 p.m. to 8 p.m. Harvey B. Gantt Center for African-American Arts + Culture, 551 S. Tryon St. For more information, visit www.sixfigureentertainment.com.
• The AKA Day Party. Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc. Rho Psi Omega Chapter present this party with DJ Hot Rod and DJ Skillz. For more information, visit www.thesolkitchen.com. $20 and up. March 1, 12 p.m.-6 p.m. Label, 900 N.C. Music Factory Blvd.
• Party at the Trolley. Brought to you by the Eagle Athletic Foundation, this party benefits the NCCU football program. Admission price covers food, drinks — you bring the good time. Music by DJ Tut. $50. March 1, 1 p.m.-5 p.m. Charlotte Trolley Museum, 1507 Camden Road. For more information, visit www.nccueaf.org/party.html.
• 9th Annual Panache Farewell Brunch. Presented by Digital Divas, this is your opportunity to meet up with friends old and new for one last get-together before heading home. Expect live music and a selection from the à la carte menu. Admission is free. March 2, 11 a.m.-3 p.m., Ruth's Chris Uptown, 222 S. Tryon St. For more information or to make reservations, check out www.digitaldivasevents.com.
• Farewell: The Last Day Party. Presented by Eddietainment, Inc., Pearl Vision, Eddleton Events and J&J Entertainment Group. Hosted by DJ Biggs, with music from DJ Skillz, DJ Lonnie B and New York City native DJ Self. Free admission. March 2, 12 p.m.-7 p.m., Suite, 210 E. Trade St. For more information, visit www.farewelldayparty.eventbrite.com.
THE NIGHT PARTIES
• Frolic: The Social Climb - A Boss Lady Collaboration. Talk of the Town, Digital Divas, The Jazz Diva & Urban League of Central Carolinas present this event with live jazz and R&B, featuring the Shades of Brown Trio and DJ Flemingo on turntables. For more information or to purchase tickets, visit www.talkofthetownent.com. 0x000A$15 and up. Feb. 26, 6 p.m. SIP, 200 N. Tryon St. 704-334-3315.
• Kitchapalooza 3: Tournament Edition 2014. The weekly Pop Life party blows up this week, taking over Cosmos, Phoenix and Re:Public, with host Nolimit Larry from Power 98 WPEG and six DJs (DJ Skillz, DJ Shaun Nyce, DJ Hot Rod, DJ Ngenius, DJ CK & DJ 360). Free admission. Feb. 26, 9 p.m. 300 N. College St. www.thesolkitchen.com.
• Liv hosted by Meek Mills + Erica Mena. For those who have nailed the art of eye-fucking, hip-hop artist Meek Mills and Love & Hip-Hop's Erica Mena will be hosting this party at Label. $35 and up. Feb. 27, Doors at 9 p.m. Label, 900 N.C. Music Factory Blvd. Tickets available on Eventbrite.com; search Meek Mills and Erica Mena.
• Hysteria. Presented by King and MAZ Entertainment. It'll be interesting to see how these promoters pull off the "sexy yet sinful, classic yet very contemporary" party they're teasing. Music by DJ Paradime. For more information, visit www.kingentevents.com. $20. Feb. 27, 10 p.m. Studio Movie Grill, 210 E. Trade St., Suite D290.
• The Jump Off. I can't imagine taking a break in the middle of a party to watch TV, but considering how fantastically addictive ABC's Scandal is, maybe it won't be a problem. These promoters have indicated on their flyer that there will be a Scandal "viewing intermission." Dancing, drinking and some Olivia Pope? Should be interesting. Music by DJ Biggs of Washington, D.C., and DJ Lonnie B of Virginia. Free admission before 9 p.m.; $20 and up. For more information or to purchase tickets, visit Eventbrite.com and search "The Charlotte Jump Off 2014." Feb. 27, 5 p.m. Vapiano, 201 S. Tryon St.
• Pink Groove IX. A tournament week tradition, the ladies of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority Inc., Rho Psi Omega chapter, bring you the Scandal Edition of this event. Music by DJ Skillz and DJ DR. You may also bring your white hats, as there will be a Scandal party on the rooftop. $35 and up. Feb. 27, 9 p.m. Phoenix, 300 N. College St. For more information, visit www.rhopsiomega.org/events.
- Neil Rickards
- DJ Jazzy Jeff will be at the Omni Hotel on Friday for the "I Love the '90s" party.
• Kevin Hart + Biz Markie. The party features comedian Kevin Hart, Biz Markie, DJ PNut and Eddie Owens. For tickets, visit www.eventbrite.com and search "Kevin Hart + Doug E. Fresh + Biz Markie." $30 and up. Feb. 28, 9 p.m. The Urban Garden, 150 N. College St.
• I Love the '90s with DJ Jazzy Jeff. Because what better decade of music is there than the '90s? (Millenials, you hush.) This party, presented by Dynasty 5, The Sol Kitchen and Bestfriendz, features music from DJ Jazzy Jeff, a must-see master of music. $40 and up. Feb. 28, 10 p.m. Omni Hotel Charlotte, 132 E. Trade St. To purchase tickets, visit www.iluvthe90s.eventbee.com.
• 50 Shades of Blue Volume II. Playing off the title of the soft-core porn series by E.L. James, we see. This party features music from DJ C-Rob, a late-night menu, cocktails and hors d'oeuvres. Presented by Dre Brown, James Rickmond, and Herb and Felicia Gray. $25 and up. Feb. 28, 9 p.m. Blue, 214 N. Tryon St. For more information, visit www.eventbrite.com and search "50 Shades of Blue."
• All Black Affair. Music by Atlanta's DJ Tay-Rock and DJ Quest (Monster DJ). More importantly, there will be complimentary margaritas with each table. Need we say more? $20 and up. Feb. 28, 9:30 p.m. Vida Mexican Kitchen y Cantina, 210 E. Trade St. For more info, visit www.theallblackaffair.com.
• Su Casa: The Grapes + Pancakes Party & Prince Tribute. If you did a ratchet party on Thursday night, head to Su Casa Friday — this monthly event features soul, house, Afrobeat and more from Su Casa resident DJ Justice and That Guy Smitty. Lovers of Prince, rejoice — his videos will be screening all night. $10. Feb. 28, 9 p.m. Dharma Lounge, 1440 S. Tryon St. www.dharmacharlotte.com.
• Pandemonium: Step Show After-Party. After CIAA's Step Show Throwdown (happening at the Grady Cole Center), take that sudden unquenchable need to stomp over to the official after-party. $15 and up. Feb. 28, 10 p.m. Re:Public, 314 N. College St. For more information, visit www.ciaastepshows.com/afterparty.html.
• Magnum Finale. NXL21 Charlotte had us at the words "open bar." $25 and up. March 1, 10 p.m. RiRa, 208 N. Tryon St. For more information, visit www.nxlevelent.com/ciaa.
• Block 300. The ultimate block party, without the grill fired up — unless you count the hot dog vendors, then you're set. This party stretches over two venues, Re:Public and Phoenix, and features five DJs. $35 and up. March 1, 9 p.m. Re:Public, 314 N. College St. For tickets, visit www.block3002014.eventbrite.com.
• The Mixtape. An "intimate event" on the last night of CI partying? Just what you need if you've been going hard all week. Music from DJ 360, DJ Jazzy Jeff and DJ Skillz. $25 and up. March 1, 9 p.m. X Night Club, 950 N.C. Music Factory Blvd. For tickets, visit www.themixtapejazzyjeff.eventbrite.com.
• The Grand Finale. It just wouldn't be a successful week of partying without dancing to "Poison" one time — why not while it's being sung by the original performers? Bell Biv Devoe, SWV and DJ Kool will be in the house at Privilege. $20 and up. March 1, 9 p.m. Privilege, 223. S. Brevard St. For more information, visit www.privilegecharlotte.com.
• 4th Annual Kid Capri Celebrity Grand Finale. Although Kid Capri's moniker is kind of ironic — have you seen him lately? — he'll be bringing the tunes with all the energy of teenager hyped up on Red Bull. Hosted by Charlotte Bobcats' Big Pat, and — dramatic pause — there's bowling. $30 and up. March 1, 9 p.m. Strike City, 210 E. Trade St. For more info, visit www. kidcapritakeover.eventbrite.com.
• The Reunion. Even the mayor is out partying. According to the party flyer from Digital Divas, Patrick Cannon has been "confirmed as host" of the 7th edition of this annual event. Music by DJ Danny Dee and DMV's Secret Society. $40 and up. March 1, 9 p.m. Blue, 214 N. Tryon St. For more information or to purchase tickets, visit www.digitaldivasevents.com.
• Label on Sunday: Tournament Finale. Sure, you've been partying all week, but this is not one you'll want to miss. It's OK — just call off from work and leave Charlotte on Monday. This event features Grammy-nominated producer and DJ Don Cannon, who's worked with everyone from Kendrick Lamar to Outkast. Free admission. March 2, 10 p.m. Label, 900 N.C. Music Factory Blvd. For more information, visit www.thesolkitchen.com.
TOP 4 (POTENTIAL) LIVE PERFORMANCES + 1 SURE THING
During CIAA, there's a lot of big-name performers in town, but not always big-time performances. Oftentimes, the celebrities are only here to host the party, not sing their greatest hits. With that in mind, here's our list of the most could-be-legendary-if-they-happen performances:
• *George Clinton and Parliament Funkadelic: The Godfather of Funk hits the Queen City every year around this time, and every year it's the same all-night party you'd expect. As they say, "there ain't no party like a P-Funk party." $35-$65. (Amos' Southend)
*This one's a safe bet.
• Lil Wayne YMCMB Takeover: If Lil Wayne were to grab the mic, this would be one of the biggest must-see events of the weekend. Rarely does anyone get to see Weezy perform in a small venue anymore. $40 and up. (Label)
• Rick Ross Album Release All Black Party: Sometimes people just gather in a room to listen to the album, but sometimes the artist gets on stage and performs a few songs, if not the entire album. We're hoping for the latter. $37.50-$152.50. (The Fillmore)
• Doug E. Fresh + MC Lyte + Biz Markie + Big Daddy Kane: Sure, Doug E. Fresh and Biz Markie are here every year, but this could turn out to be quite a "legends of hip-hop showcase." $30-$1,250. (The Urban Garden)
• Diddy, Future, Fabolous: Hey, even if Diddy never takes the stage, everyone knows the guy can throw one hell of a party. And if they're charging $10,000 for VIP tickets, this one better be good. $50-$10,000. (Sheraton Charlotte Hotel)
It's all love.
• "The Men Will Be Everywhere." The Nickel Bar presents four days of nonstop parties, featuring sexy entertainers from California, D.C., Maryland and Virginia. Feb. 27-March 2. The Nickel Bar, 2817 Rozzelles Ferry Road. For more information, visit www.thenickelbar.com.
• SeduceHER. Hosted by VH1's Love & Hip-Hop's Erica Mena with guest DJ LRenee. Presented by Sophisticated Lyfe Entertainment and InHerCircle. $15 and up. Feb. 28, 9:30 p.m. Grand Central, 1000 Central Ave. All advance tickets and information available at www.sleciaalgbt.eventbrite.com.
• The WarmUp. $10 in advance. Feb. 28, 10 p.m.-3 a.m. L4 Lounge, 2906 Central Ave. Advance tickets at White Rabbit (920 Central Ave.) or contact Crys Melton (919-931-3396), Dra (704-615-3147) or Blaze (336-587-0052).
• Fashion Fridays: Presented by Socialite Entertainment Inc. $10 and up. Feb. 28, 10 p.m. Ultra Lounge, 2815 Crisman St. 704-290-7318. ciaafashionfriday.ticketleap.com.
• We're Ballin': Ladies for Ladies Day Party: Presented by SugaWalls Entertainment with special guest stud performers Carter The Body from L.A. and Juiceboxx from Texas, with DJ Aasha Adore. Ladies only; showtime at 6 p.m. $15 and up. March 1, 3 p.m.-8 p.m. Onyx Gentlemen's Club, 5300 Old Pineville Road. 336-587-0052. www.weballinladies4ladies.eventbrite.com.
OUTSIDE OF UPTOWN
Escape the congestion of downtown at one of these events. Just as much drinking and dancing, only without the traffic headaches to get there.
• Old-School Skate Party. Roller-skating and old-school hip-hop and R&B by DJ Kool. $20 and up. Feb. 27, 9 p.m. Kate's Skating Rink, 14500 Independence Blvd., Indian Trail. For more info, visit www.ciaaskateparty.com.
• Old School/New School Party. Hosted by the Tanglewood Crew. $20. Feb. 27, 9 p.m. Tempo, 4809 Wilkinson Blvd. 704-391-8909. www.tempocharlotte.com.
• TURN-UP TOURNAMENT DAY PARTY. Old-school Charlotte staple McBonies hosts this early afternoon day party. Feb. 28, 1 p.m.-7 p.m. McBonies Bar and Grill, 4800 Monroe Road. 704.563.2999. www.mcbonies.com.
• Billionaire Boys Club. Hosted by P. Diddy and Rick Ross and "other celebrity friends." For more info, visit www.eventbrite.com and search "Billionaire Boys Club." $70 and up. Feb. 28, 8 p.m. to 3 a.m. QC Live Center Charlotte, 8801 East W.T. Harris Blvd.
• 5th Annual Old School Gathering. Formerly the South Mecklenburg High School alumni party, this event features a DJ, a spade tournament, free food, cash bar and free parking. $20-$25; $5 off at the door with six canned goods. Feb. 28, 9 p.m. Rameses Temple, 4919 Beatties Ford Road. For more information, contact Gerald "Fats" Lewis at 704-620-2986 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
• The Original Hopewell Group Day Party. Featuring music by DJ Hukher. $25 and up. March 1, 12 p.m.-5 p.m. Tempo, 4809 Wilkinson Blvd. 704-391-8909. www.tempocharlotte.com.
• Breakfast Jam I and II. Breakfast plus beats by DJ-O6, served until 6 a.m., courtesy of the Queen City Omegas. Feb. 28 and March 1, 11 p.m.-6 p.m. Omegas Fraternity House, 3301 Statesville Ave. For more info, visit www.piphiomegas.org.
- Look out for the Pink Culture Truck, a stylish mobile boutique, at Hearts for Handbags and Get Pretty! Get Fly! during tournament weekend.
Keep your mug and your mane fresh by hitting up one of these beautifying events.
• Hearts for Handbags Sip & Shop will offer shopping and pampering, with a portion of funds going to Charlotte American Heart Association. $15-$20. March 1, 1 p.m.-5 p.m. www.hearts4handbags.eventbrite.com.
• Get Pretty! Get Fly!pop-up boutique happens Friday and Saturday at Area Fifteen near NoDa. Makeup artists and stylists will be on deck to help you stay fresh between the games and events, and jewelry, menswear and other accessories will be available for purchase. $10 includes a swag bag. Feb. 28 and March 1, 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Area Fifteen, 1138 N. Caldwell St. www.ciaapopupevent.eventbrite.com
• dupp&swat, known to the Charlotte fashion community for its amazing eclecticism, is home to QCBabeBar, a beauty bar offering to keep you fab during tournament week. Whether you need a lipstick touch-up after lunch or you sweated out your hair during the midday shindig, they've got you covered. Sponsored by Tanners Bistro & Lounge, dupp&swat, Nail Yeah (Crystal Clark) and Lonni B. Ent. Feb. 27-March 1, 1 p.m.-8 p.m. dupp&swat, 2424 N. Davidson St., Suite 112B. www.facebook.com/qcbabebar.