"What day is it?" That's a question you're bound to hear from me on a three-day weekend.
A combination of too much PBR and an extended weekend that only happens a handful of times each year for the hardworking young professional?
Whatever the case may be, there's no doubt that everyone's days begin to run together.
This weekend was no different. It started out around 4:45 p.m. on Friday. I went to Heist Brewery for a couple beers on the patio. I'm not a huge fan of their food, but this time I tried the crab dip and I can't say I was disappointed.
After Heist, I thought it would be a wise idea to stop by Hot Taco to meet up with some friends. It was supposed to be an early night so I could be productive the following morning before soaking up some sun at the pool.
The next thing I know, it's close to 11 p.m. and I'm headed to a co-worker's for a nightcap.
An hour or so later, I received an invite to go camping the following night. I'd missed out on the camping trip in Virginia the year prior, so there was no way I was turning down the invitation. The only problem? We were leaving around 9:30 a.m. the following morning and I remember seeing 4 a.m. before passing out on my co-worker's couch.
That's why I was dry heaving into a pint glass heading home at 7 a.m. in the morning. This ride to Virginia was going to be a doozy.
I packed an overnight bag for my first camping trip and hopped in my ride to VA. To my surprise, the trip wasn't as brutal as I thought it would be, and getting there took only a couple hours.
Unbeknownst to me, my friends have been taking this trip yearly for the better part of a decade, and after piling onto a cot earlier than I thought I would and listening to the sound of rain splash (inside and outside) of the tent, I guess I can see why. The scenic views, beautiful farmland, quaint farmhouse (with electricity) and nostalgia for unshared memories of those who'd attended in previous years.
Oh, and did I mention there were seven kegs?
The next morning around 8 a.m. I woke up to the sound of rustling as folks started to pack and clean up.
The last thing I remembered from the night before was trying to decide whether or not I could rally for another drink while staring into the dark of the tent. That's when someone started yakking outside and realized I didn't want to be that person.
As we piled back in the car to head back to the Q.C., I was thankful for three things: the chance to improve my beer pong game, the fact that I wasn't hungover and that this black chick survived her first camping trip.
After returning to Charlotte, I set out to find something to do. Like I said, a long weekend is too good a thing to waste.
A co-worker had given me tickets to Kehlani at The Fillmore later on that night, but that was hours away. I texted my friend who was going with me to the concert and she was already pregaming at NoDa Company Store. I was surprised to find an above-ground pool filled with buns and guns when I walked in.
As it happened, they were having a luau and pool party in honor of Memorial Day. How fun?!
If you've never been to this quaint little venue situated behind Smelly Cat Coffeehouse & Roastery, stop what you're doing and go now! A bottle shop featuring local brews, sangria, unique art and a spacious patio, NoDa Company Store is sure to be one of your favorite places to hangout.
I'm hoping they'll plan another pool party before the summer is over.
After a couple drinks there, I could already feel Kehlani slipping through our fingers. I looked at my co-worker and asked if we should go.
The next thing I know, it's almost 1 a.m., I'm arguing in a parking lot and I realize we never even set our sights on AvidXchange Music Factory. Oh well, the tickets were free.
The conclusion of a busy weekend ended on a rooftop complete with pool, sun and friends. Not too shabby for an unplanned four day weekend, right?
The word "daddy" makes a lot of people uncomfortable.
When you use it for your actual father, there's that weird sex thing. And when you use it during sex, there's that weird dad thing.
It turns out that there's a long history of finding "daddy" sexy and an equally long history of finding the endearment disturbing and creepy.
In fact, there's a song from as far back as 1920 called, "I Want To Go To The Land Where The Sweet Daddies Grow." (Yeah.)
So, what is "daddy" all about, really? Does it have anything to do with "daddy issues?" Sigmund Freud would say yes (obviously). He developed the theory of the "feminine Oedipus attitude," which described the phenomenon of women competing with their mothers for the sexual possession of their fathers.
It's this specter of incest and Freudian psychology that makes some uncomfortable.
As one friend pointed out, "If I'm choking you and biting you and fucking you, then I'm most certainly not your daddy."
Fair. But I'm skeptical that someone's desire to call their partner daddy has much to do with their biological father at all.
I called up Dr. Kent Brintnall, a sexuality and eroticism professor at UNC Charlotte, for a philosophical perspective.
"I think it's fairly safe to say that part of both the discomfort but also the pleasure is because it raises this kind of transgressive notion of the parent-child relationship."
But it's not, like, really about incest, right?
Brintnall says no.
"In the same way, people interested in puppy play, if presented with the actual possibility of bestiality, would be like, 'No!' Like, no, that isn't what this is about."
For more insight, I turned to that other fount of wisdom and expertise: Facebook.com.
When I posted a status asking whether "daddy" was sexy or not sexy, many responses were unequivocal:
"Creep factor 10."
Other responses went into a level of detail I didn't expect:
"Not exactly sure why but it makes me totally lose focus."
"I think it's hot, but it has to be used sparingly and preferably close to climax."
One comment seemed to sum up a healthy approach to sexuality in general:
"I think it's fine if the other person thinks it's fine!"
In my conversations about this over the last couple of weeks, I found that everyone seems to have an opinion.
Many have considered their own desire to use daddy or not, or they've encountered a preference for it from a partner.
But what is that desire really about?
I'm not the first columnist to wonder. Back in 1922, when "daddy" was all the rage, Los Angeles Times columnist Alma Whitaker speculated, "Doesn't it look like a tender longing for authority, a pathetic craving to be enthroned once more in domesticity? A back-to-nature and the superlatives of paternity?"
But I don't think so. Like much else about BDSM, calling someone or being called daddy is about playing with power and authority; letting control slip in and out of your grasp; feeling the rush of being subsumed or subsuming someone else in a setting where it feels safe to let go of yourself.
Playing with power in bed can be about seizing control when the rest of the world feels unmanageable.
Or, on the flip side, it can be about feeling temporarily unmoored from the weight of daily life.
To me, "daddy" and other erotic experiments with power give voice to a fundamental yearning: to connect across the bounds of our own consciousness and to experiment with relinquishing ourselves to each other.
In a cultural moment marked by bitter division, I won't begrudge anyone's attempts to achieve a transcendent connection. Even if those attempts can be just a little bit weird.
This past Sunday at 3 p.m., for the second time in the past two months I might add, I was standing in a cellphone repair shop hoping to fix my phone screen. *Sighs.*
I don't know about you, but I'm no habitual cellphone breaker, so you can imagine my disgust at having to pay upwards of $150 to get my screen replaced twice in such a short period of time. Nevertheless, the cracked screen was a reminder of yet another epic weekend in the Queen City.
How many times can you run into the same person and not remember having had a conversation with them? In this specific incidence, the first time came on Food Truck Friday. I'd received a tap on my back and turned to hear the words, "Two days in a row?" Stunned, I responded without quickly recalling sharing small talk with the man in front of me from the night before. As he walked away, however, the embarrassing introduction I'd given at 5Church's five-year anniversary shindig started to flood back to me. All I could think for the next day was how many times this had happened to me before. The answer was, way too many.
So, why was my phone broken, you ask? Well, after a few escapades around the Q.C. on Thursday and Friday, Saturday was actually so lit, my brain nor my phone could keep up. Ink N Ivy, 5Church, AA5, SIP (yes, two weekends in a row), The Corner Pub, Murphy's Kitchen, Sycamore Brewing, Workman's Friend and Whiskey Warehouse. Even after making so many moves already, I knew I was going to have to keep the party going because my old roommate was coming into town for TRAP Karaoke at The Underground on Saturday (more on that later).
But first, in true Joanne the Scammer fashion, why not scam my way into a boat trip on Lake Wiley for a little pregame? I grabbed a bottle of champagne and hopped on the highway. By the time 4 p.m. rolled around, the sun was bright, I was unsuspectingly working on a sunburn (yes, those of us with melanin can still burn) and my old roommate was almost in town. That's when the boat decided it was going to stop working. Panic mode, right? Nope, how about shotgunning a beer instead? After all, who doesn't make the most out of situations like that, right?
Four hours and a tow later, it was 8 p.m., TRAP Karaoke was starting and my friend and I were just walking into my house to get ready. Give the tickets away? Negative. I was going to hear some trap music before calling it a night.
You're probably wondering what trap music is and what TRAP Karaoke looks like? Well, for the average music listener like me it's more of a feeling I get or a place to go and buy drugs than a music genre with a tangible definition. Artists like Boosie Badazz, Crime Mob and Young Jeezy come to mind and all I want to do is form a mosh pit. But a simple Google search will reveal that trap music has much more depth.
Born out of 90s southern hip hop, trap music incorporates pitched and resampled hip hop vocals, gangsta synth leads, layered synthesizers, heavy kick drums like those from a Roland TR-808 drum machine, pipe flutes and triple hi hats. These days, however, trap has gotten tied up in EDM culture — that's why I wasn't surprised when the event page advertising TRAP Karaoke popped up on my timeline, now it's accepted into the fold of mainstream music.
Before my friend decided to surprise me with tickets for my birthday, I went to the website to get a feel for what the event would look like. The first quote I noticed? "TRAP Karaoke is like going to church ... but instead of 'Amazing Grace,' you're singing 'Back That Azz Up.'" Then, I read, "Anything can happen at the night show. Like your favorite rapper surprising you on stage." And after watching videos of a crowd jumping and singing in unison, even without music, and Pastor Troy walking on stage at one of the shows, I was sold!
Donned in military boots, a metal bralette, high-waist jeans and a jean jacket, I entered The Underground for the sold-out show. I'd never been to the mid-sized music venue before, and was just as shocked to see how many people were filling the space as I was the "fire lane" carpets that surrounded the center standing room area. My friend and I made our way to the very front right next to the stage and proceeded to let loose while performers belted out some of our fave songs on stage. Granted, by the time we arrived "fashionably late," there were fewer artists performing trap music as the music shifted to "I'm Going Down" by Mary J. Blige and other artists like Keyshia Cole. Nevertheless, we sang and it was lit.
TRAP Karaoke is a nationally touring event, so unfortunately Charlotteans won't be able to experience the cultural goodness anytime soon. But be on the lookout, and sign up to perform the next time around. It definitely made breaking my phone at 4 a.m. well worth it.
I've been spending a lot of time alone lately, and despite the fact that I'm an only child, I can't say I've been enjoying it. That's why, as of late, I've been finding myself in quite a few random situations. On that note, this past weekend was certainly one for the books.
On Thursday, I was invited to Hot Taco in South End for a co-worker's birthday. I'm not a huge fan of Mexican food, but what the birthday girl wants, the birthday girl gets. Did I mention they have select $1 draft beers on Thursdays? Yeah, I wasn't complaining. I grabbed a couple pints, munched on some chips and started inquiring about what would come next after getting stir crazy. Thankfully, I wasn't the only one. One of my old co-workers was ready to go as well. We decided to walk over to Slate Charlotte, but it was dead.
Even though we'd already had a beer at Alive After Five (AA5) prior to the South End trek, it was clear our next best choice for 8 o'clock on a Thursday was to return to the famous after-work happy hour spot at Rooftop 210 in the EpiCentre. Just when I thought I was much more sober than everyone else, I realized I'd gotten caught up in a conversation with a Ghanaian-American vet about her desire to serve this country. That's how you know I've crossed the buzzed threshold, I start talking about politics, race relations, social issues and the like with random strangers.
In true "Saved by the Bell" fashion, I looked down at my phone to a text from the birthday girl and crew that simply said, "Going to SIP." After looking back at our texts, I was clearly far past the tipping point as it appears I photo-documented my entire Charlotte pedicab ride from the EpiCentre to SIP. Sighs, why do we do these things to ourselves?
Once inside SIP, I realized I'd never been in there before – TWO levels of great dancing music, including reggae?! "How could that possibly be?" I asked myself as I stared at Prohibition next door knowing I'd been there one too many times. I introduced myself to the bouncer, then turned to threat mode when I realized I needed him to watch my 30-pound backpack, complete with all of my essentials.
"I know who you are..." He laughed, unbothered, by my threats and proceeded to watch my bag for me despite my distrusting attitude. (Thank you, sir. You're the real G.O.A.T. of Thursday night.)
You'd think after staying out until 3 a.m. that I'd slow down on Friday, right? Nope, it was time for another first. This time, however, it was my first time going to Queen Park Social while sober. An old co-worker — a.k.a. my P.I.C. — had put together a semi-surprise get together for her boyfriend and I ran errands with her after work for moral support.
If you haven't been, Queen Park Social is one of the newest additions to South End right across the street from Olde Mecklenburg Brewery. The venue features two patios, shuffleboard, ping pong, bowling, a huge bar and right around 18,000 square feet of "boutique" adult playground. I'm not sure how the process for party reservations will work in the future, as it appears they are still working out the kinks, but she was able to call ahead and snag two lanes for two hours for around $30/lane. The icing on the cake? There are servers that camp out by the lanes, ready and willing to replace your drinks on the reg. Now that's what I call service. I can't say I'm all that impressed by the food, but let's be honest, at an adult playground, you're probably not there for the food.
Saturday and Sunday, of course, were reserved for the woman whose womb I popped out of, but on my way back to Charlotte after Mother's Day brunch I received an invite to another first: free tickets to Future and Migos at PNC Pavilion. As my old roommate and I made our way down Highway 29, we watched as scantily clad concertgoers walked for what felt like miles alongside our ride. In a twist of good fortune, a cop told us to park in the "lot on the right up ahead." Little did we know, this was the lot RIGHT in front of the venue. Around 9:05 p.m. we were settling down in seats that were about 25 rows away from the stage and at 9:15 p.m. Future was already performing. Come on, I can't make this stuff up.
The highlight of the show? Either the contact high we received just from being under the tent, or the backup dancers that were getting lit Soulja Boy-style the entire show. Or maybe it was EJ Esco's fine self? I digress, you'll never believe me but the show was over promptly at 10:29 p.m. and we were back on the highway by 10:45 p.m. Where they do that at?!
Just another first for me.
This past week has been a complete blur. I've been in such a funk that I decided to cope by going out every day after work last week. No, I wasn't super hungover or spewing anywhere, but still, I was doing the most.
When Friday rolled around, a co-worker had already made plans for the night and the following day. Naturally, I followed along as I made my way from BlackFinn to Corner Pub to Rí Rá. When the Red Bull took over, I decided I should even continue to twerk my way all the way to Blue Olive Lounge.
The next morning I decided to be productive, clean up around the house and run some errands. It wasn't long, however, before I was being summoned to Sycamore Brewing for a couple beers. When the rain forced everyone inside, we were more than ready to make the next move. It gets ridiculously packed there when everyone's forced inside.
After Sycamore, we stopped in at The Corner Pub to regroup and figure out where we wanted to go for the next couple hours. Some friends of ours were going to see Bastille, so we thought heading over to VBGB would be the best move, that way our friends could pregame with us. But you know how day drinking goes. We may have been there for 15 minutes before I started hearing rumblings about everyone wanting to go home and either crash on the couch or take a nap.
Anyone who knows me knows that I will not take a nap after day drinking in the hopes of waking back up to rally again. Nope, not going to happen. I got dropped off and decided to head back out on my own. When I started getting bored, I thought, maybe it's just time to call it a night altogether. It was close to 9 p.m. after all.
Just when I'd let go of the idea of partying, one of my closest friends from back home hit me up. We eventually met some other friends at Thomas Street Tavern in Plaza Midwood. Very quickly, however, we realized just how late to the party we were. Drinks were being spilled, screams were being directed at random jerks and all I wanted to do was get the hell out of dodge. That's when I overheard someone who I thought knew one of my colleagues talking about Crystal On the Plaza.
I'd heard rumors that Crystal was a local favorite for reggae and thought this was the perfect time to check it out. As we prepared to leave, I turned to the last friend standing, FT we'll call her, and politely said, "Listen babe, I don't think you're going to want to go here." After all, she had been drinking damn near all day and the clock was just striking 2 a.m. She saw right through me, and before I could voice my true concerns, she interjected. "Listen girl, I went to a predominantly black high school and I was the only white cheerleader, I got this." Can't get anything past her.
When we arrived, there were cops standing around outside of the entrance. Some were going in and the bouncers weren't moving the line. I turned to one of the cops and asked if the spot was getting shut down, to which she said, "I don't think so, there's just always illegal activity going on in here."
That's when the bouncer turned to our group and informed us that the cover charge would be $20 a piece! Say what?! Fortunately, my childhood friend's acquaintance had the cash and offered to pay for our five-person group. Once inside, I couldn't believe my eyes, the space was jam-packed. What's crazier? It was filled with hundreds of people and they couldn't even serve alcohol anymore!
We stumbled upon the patio to the right of the entrance and found a space to call our own. I took one look around at the crowd and thought, "So this is what unfiltered, untamed culture looks like," and immediately started dancing the night away. I even met the owner — Miss Mary they called her. She found her way into her dance circle — a petite, gray-haired lady with a short haircut. And she wasn't skipping a beat, she laughed and moved her hips just as quickly as we were. Yas honey! When patrons started to get protective over her, I knew that she had to be the woman in charge. I got her number and left her to enjoy her night.
Little did I know, she wouldn't be going home. An hour or so later, when the clock struck 4:00 a.m., there came Miss Mary still moving her hips. We laughed a tired laugh, and decided it was time to go. My only regret? I never went to the food window where patrons were getting to-go plates. I don't know what all they had on the menu, but I know I spotted some mac and cheese somewhere. On the way home, I turned to my petite, blonde-haired, blue-eyed friend, "I can't believe you stayed out that whole time." She laughed and responded, "You know what they say, when in Rome ... well now it's when in Crystal!"
A few important questions inevitably arise in the course of a relationship: What are your career aspirations? Do you want kids? Where do you stand on the pineapple-on-pizza debate? What do you like in bed? That last one makes me nervous. It's often asked late at night, in the dark, tangled up in blankets and vulnerability. What will he think about what I want? I worry about being judged when I wear anything edgier than clothes from the Gap. Letting someone into my darkest fantasies is an experience fraught with fear. I mean, what if he thinks I'm weird?
If he does — and it turns him off — that would be sad. But a bigger tragedy would be letting the fear of judgment keep me from living my sexiest life. Luckily, there's an organization in Charlotte dedicated to helping kinky Charlotteans shed their inhibitions (and clothes) and live those sexiest lives, safely and free of judgment.
The Charlotte Area Power Exchange (CAPEX) is a nonprofit BDSM education organization. BDSM is an acronym that covers a lot of ground. A quick Google search shows that nobody really agrees on what BDSM stands for specifically, but it's always some mix of the words bondage, discipline, dominance, submission, sadism and masochism. BDSM enthusiasts can be everyone from those who enjoy the occasional spanking and hair pulling to those who get off on being gagged, restrained and flogged — to those who desire to be a full-time sex slave. CAPEX caters to everyone on that spectrum of kinky proclivities.
The organization is pansexual, meaning all sexualities are welcome. Founded in 2000, it's the longest running pansexual BDSM organization in Charlotte that puts education first. So, what does this "education" look like?
Every month, the group hosts a private event featuring an educational talk or demonstration followed by a social for its members, which CAPEX refers to as contributors. Speakers demonstrate skills like flogging or role play, or they address other issues germane to the kink lifestyle: relationships, safe words, first aid, or legal considerations, for example.
The social that follows is not of the tea and crumpets variety. Instead, it's an opportunity to try new things, practice kink technique, ask questions, and learn from other CAPEX contributors. I'm tempted to call what they do "some Fifty Shades shit," but that would be an unwelcome comparison.
It's hard to talk about BDSM these days without mentioning Fifty Shades of Grey. The book and ensuing movie introduced one kind of kink lifestyle to a wide audience, but its portrayal of BDSM annoyed many in the kink community. The sex depicted didn't always reflect the consent and communication standards that organizations like CAPEX adhere to.
CAPEX contributor and former board member Winterwolf — who requested to be identified by his scene name — emphasizes that CAPEX upholds the "safe, sane, and consensual" creed. But he adds that another acronym might better reflect the group's credo: R.A.C.K., which stands for risk-aware, consensual and kinky. Why is that acronym better? Because, he freely admits, "Some of the stuff we do is insane."
So maybe you're curious about kink. Going to a CAPEX event for the first time is an intimidating step, but the process is designed to be comfortable. According to the website, capex.info, "Everyone in CAPEX welcomes new contributors with an open mind and heart. We hope to see you in our extended family. But it's all about how you treat other people," he continues.
CAPEX events are designed to be positive, safe environments where your kinkiest desires can blossom from fantasy to fully realized. "We're not going to judge you based on what you like or what you're into. It's safe to explore that very intimate, personal sexuality that you may have," Winterwolf says.
More than anything, he wants everyone to feel comfortable with their own desire.
"It's ok to be kinky," he says. "It's ok to be you."
But, I press, what if your partner isn't into it? What if he thinks I'm weird?
Winterwolf has advice for that too: "Check, please."
"Let's take a pic of you holding the bag and send it off," my mom said as we sat in the ceremony room at Noah's Event Venue located off of Yorkmont Road. I looked at the swag bag that read: To have and to hold all your wedding inspiration." *insert actual LOL moment* My mom would have me pose with this bag and pretend like I'm getting ready to get married ... little did she know the drama I'd have the following week. But I digress.
A few weeks ago, I was at Common Market in Plaza Midwood with friends of friends. One of the guy's girlfriend's asked something along the lines of, "Have you heard about something called 'The Big Fake Wedding?' I found it on Groupon for $10. Apparently, you go to a fake wedding ceremony and then you can attend a reception and have free drinks. We should go!" Umm, free drinks? You know I was down. She's much closer to marriage than I am so I thought it would be fun to go with her. I responded, "Yes, let's do it!"
Within the next couple of days I was ready to make the purchase. I took a look at the Groupon and began to stalk anything related to "The Big Fake Wedding" on Google. After some research, I gathered that the event is designed for wedding planners, engaged folks and the like interested in exploring local vendors and/or venues for wedding ceremonies. I didn't fall into any of those categories, but I repeat, there were going to be free drinks.
I called my mom super excited to tell her about the not-so-drunken pregame event I'd be going to. She loves weddings and anything "pretty" so I knew she'd approve. A couple days later, she decided she wanted to go, too. She couldn't celebrate my birthday with me the weekend of the event, so she thought it would be fun to spend time together before I left for the beach. That's when we found out the Groupon had ended — she didn't have a ticket, and neither did my friend. Womp, womp, womp. She went to the official website and purchased a ticket for $25. After all, I was so worth it.
Despite no RSVP (whoops) we had no issue getting in. We were only 15 minutes away from the ceremony so I opted out of visiting the vendors beforehand to grab a good seat. I mean, how many times have you made it on time to a wedding and snagged prime seating? Despite being located near and surrounded by the business parks off of Tyvola, you wouldn't have even been able to tell once you were seated in front of the beautiful florals that would serve as the backdrop for the ceremony.
While a violinist and harpist played John Legend's "All of Me," we wondered if the "fake ceremony" would simply be random people. Please. I would love to get paid to do this myself and live out my childhood dreams of a white dress without having to deal with the drama of relationships. A spokesperson greeted us, "Our goal is to inspire brides and grooms, support local businesses and encourage healthy and committed marriage. Keep in mind, this is a party, not a performance."
To our surprise, the couple, decked out in suit and wedding gown, were already married and were renewing their vows after two years of marriage. As they recommitted themselves to one another, something fell in my eye but it wasn't a tear. Their ceremony was short, just like I like them and then we were invited to make our way into the reception hall.
We sampled food from one of my fave restaurants, Aria, while we oogled at the breathtaking table décor. Each table had its own theme and in the center of the room, a tent for the lovely couple that was fit for a princess. While my mom made her way around the room collecting cards and "planning for my wedding," I avoided being asked for the fifth time, "So when's the date?" and the awkward conversation that followed. "Oh no, I'm just here having mommy-daughter date night." You know what that meant, I was waiting in line at the minibar.
The wedding party must have taken shots after having to stand in front of all these strangers for an intimate moment, because next thing you know, they were all in the middle of the dance floor leading the guests in a line dance to "The Wobble." I watched my mom's sober eyes light up as she turned to me in excitement — she loves your stereotypical "black event" line dances. She was in heaven.
We stayed until 9 p.m., when the event was supposed to be over, visited the photo booth and set up shop at a table like it was made just for us.
The event only takes place once a year, but apparently, they travel around to different destinations all over the U.S. Whether you're looking for some fun with your single gal pals or you're planning for your big day, The Big Fake Wedding won't disappoint. Be sure to check it out next year, I promise it'll be worth every second — if you're down with free drinks.