For the past seven years in Charlotte, the Central Intercollegiate Athletic Association, or CIAA, has been synonymous not just with the annual basketball tournament at Time Warner Cable Arena, but also with parties — excellent parties held across the city that bring alumni from historically black colleges and universities together each year to reconnect and have a good time. From official events like this year's Old School Skate Party on Feb. 28 and Stepshow Afterparty Throwdown on March 1 to the Chaka Khan concert at Crown Ballroom the following night, the CIAA folks know how to pack a weekend of fun.
So, why do they want to be such last-minute party poopers this year?
Earlier this month, the CIAA filed a copyright lawsuit in federal court against unofficial party and concert promoters, nightclubs and others that have used the CIAA name without permission. Among the defendants listed are the Neighborhood Theatre, Allure Life Entertainment, 5th Element, Southern Dynasty Entertainment, Torri Entertainment, Dream NC, and one of the promoters we spotlight this issue, Maz Entertainment. Some of those, including Maz, have since worked out agreements with CIAA. Many of the promoters and venues say they had already printed up fliers for their events.
One defendant, Elvado Laing of Paradice Entertainment, which is throwing this year's "Island Style 3" party at the Neighborhood Theatre, told The Charlotte Observer he wasn't aware his company couldn't use the CIAA name. "This is the third year," Laing said. "I had no idea it was an issue, a problem or against the law."
In a press conference, the CIAA's new commissioner, Jacqie Carpenter, explained the reasoning behind the suit: "If somebody was attaching your name and not using it for things that are healthy for your family, what would you do?"
We understand why the CIAA would want to protect what belongs to the CIAA. After all, the event has become huge business in Charlotte. Last year, it brought about $50 million to the local economy. But a lot of that money isn't going back to the CIAA. According to Carpenter, the organization is $200,000 in debt, partly because about half the people who come to town for the festivities aren't attending the games.
"That's quite alarming," Carpenter told WBTV. "Because that means they are doing something other than what the whole event is about, and that's basketball." It's also about higher education, she added. "So when I see events that have inappropriate content ... and it appears to be a CIAA official event, that nerves me terribly."
The event's official logo this year reads: "2013 CIAA Charlotte, Back to Basketball."
Here's hoping the CIAA and all good party promoters come to agreements that will keep both the spirit of the tournament and all the great parties going for another eight years. And if there are some rogue promoters whose antics are antithetical to what CIAA stands for, here's hoping they'll fall by the wayside.
Meanwhile, CL will continue offering you the most comprehensive list of great tournament week parties this year and every year.
SPEAKING OF comprehensive, don't miss this week's lead music story on local jazz fanatic Jeff Jackson's terrific free-jazz website Destination: Out. Known far beyond the Charlotte area — it's been written about everywhere from Wired to The New York Times — Destination: Out covers the spectrum of experimental and avant-garde music, from the tinkling cacophonies of the pianist Cecil Taylor to the atonal skronk of Ornette Coleman and John Zorn.
"We take a big-tent approach, covering anything that falls under quality, adventurous jazz," Jackson tells CL music writer John Schacht for his story here. And we think few outlets do that as well as Destination: Out.
FINALLY, a news item we ran last week on the annual Human Rights Campaign Gala drew loud cries of protest from some members of Charlotte's LGBT community, who say that CL unfairly characterized the HRC's funding strategy.
Based on disagreements about where money raised by the HRC goes, we sent reporter Joanne Spataro to talk with some members of the local LGBT community. She came back with a story that we believe is fair. (You can read it online here.) Those who disagree with the thrust of Spataro's story criticize her reporting. See their reactions in this week's letters section on page 8.
One thing I will say on this issue is that Creative Loafing has been consistently and strongly supportive of Charlotte's LGBT community and of LGBT issues in general, but our position on this controversy — or any controversy — is that no matter what the inner politics of a group may be, it is in everybody's best interest to be informed. Spataro reported the facts about a legitimate issue and we stand by her story.
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