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Young SBP

by Angela Lindsay

April 5,2006

Broadway shows, Bobcats, bars. . . boring? With all the amenities our booming our city has to offer, now it seems that the last thing Charlotte would be accused of is lacking a social scene. But for a growing segment of residents—the single, black, professional crowd—that is precisely their chief complaint. 

These grumblings are nothing new. But as more and more members of this class flock to the Queen City, the louder the gripes seem to get. Many of these transplants arrive from larger metropolitan cities like Atlanta, New York, and Washington, D.C., cities well known for the bustling nightlife and social atmosphere that they have to offer this demographic. 

Last month, 125,000 people came from all over as Charlotte played host for the first time to the 61st annual Central Intercollegiate Athletic Association’s (CIAA) Tournament, a week long basketball tournament between12 Historically Black Colleges and Universities. The event had something for everyone from basketball star/businessman Irving “Magic” Johnson’s party at the Big Chill to diva songstress Patti LaBelle’s concert to rap mogul Sean “P. Diddy” Combs’ “Bad Boys of Comedy” show. By most accounts, the debut of the CIAA here was a success but once all the fun and frivolity ended, many young, single black people who live in Charlotte wondered what would be left for them to do socially. 

The opportunities this city offers have resulted in a heavy influx of young, single professional black people who flock here because of their careers and are happy to stay because of the quality of life. But for all it offers in terms of business and livability, Charlotte may not have been prepared to cater to this demographic on a social level. 

Like many other natives, I can remember a time when people would always remark with hope and anticipation that, at the rate Charlotte was growing, in ten years our city and particularly its social scene would rival that of Atlanta’s. That was about ten years ago, and to many people we still seem to be playing catch up. But the fact of the matter is that we’re not Atlanta, and we probably never will be. That being the case, we can benefit from building upon the city we have become and the unlimited potential of what we can be. 

The idea that nightlife is even that important to a city’s overall appeal may be a bit of foreign concept to some people. Charlotte still is, after all, very much a family oriented city. But as number of singles increase, so does the need for a social climate that reflects of all its residents. All great cities have it. But ask a young, black professional here and they may make mention of a couple of spots they have heard about, but you are more likely to get a deep sigh or a knowing smirk. There are several event promotion companies that send out emails to those in the know advertising the occasional after work social or weekend party geared specifically toward this demographic, but, apparently, it is not enough to satisfy their growing social appetite. The expectation seems to be that Charlotte evolves into a city of constant and varied nightlife options. 

So how do we do that exactly? We can start with some of the loudest critics: the transplants. As our native population dwindles, the social landscape is bound to change, and we can benefit from the creativity, character, culture, and lifestyles that those who have migrated here from larger, metropolitan areas bring with them. They can transform their experiences into ideas about how to improve the social atmosphere for this particular group of residents as the city grows and diversifies. Perhaps any such endeavors will also encourage this demographic to step out and try something new. (Some of the most enjoyable social events I have experienced in other cities were decidedly different from what I had been used to.). 

It’s just one solution in a city full of possibilities. Charlotte will carve out a social niche, unique in its own right, which caters to the wishes of all its residents—so that even if we never become ‘the new Atlanta’, that will be just fine.

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