“We started this with the goal of trying to give people something different that your typical club experience,” said Nichol Stevenson, Café Soul co-founder and House of Soul CEO.
With Café Soul’s monthly open mic concert series on a temporary hiatus, Stevenson looked to keep the brand going by putting a twist on the popular sip and paint event format that has become a popular girls’ night trend in recent years.
June 30 will mark one year since the launch the Trap Soul &Paint party series. Held the last Sunday of every month, each installment since its inception has been sold out – and this weekend’s anniversary edition will probably follow suit.
“I’m just so humbled and grateful for all of the support over these past 13 years,” Stevenson said. She was giving a nod to the people who have stayed tuned into the brand she created along with Angela Brown and Rochelle “Coco Soul” Walker (who parted with Café Soul some years back and has since relocated to Atlanta) as a traveling open mic and concert series. “The Café Soul crowd has been with us since the beginning. We are so grateful to them, but we are thankful for everybody who has come on board for Trap Soul & Paint. And we try to make sure to try to give people something that makes them want to keep coming back.”
Trap Soul & Paint takes the concept of sip and paint and turns it up about five notches. Visual artist instructor Lauren guides participants through the creation of their own piece of art, while DJ Climate is simultaneously on the turntables and DreCo is on the microphone hyping the crowd through spurts of dance breaks that somehow manage to wrap before the paint dries.
“The young people that run it do an excellent job,” Stevenson said.
Instead of wine and small talk that results in a cute little painting that more than likely has no cultural significance, Trap Soul & Paint uses club music and encourages participants to take dance breaks as they create art with the common theme recognizing and honoring the black experience.
“We painted Nipsey,” Stevenson said. “When we had the issue with Gucci (calls to boycott the fashion brand were made because of a sweater inspired by racist depictions of African Americans) we painted our own jacket and included all the brands of African American designers. We are just not painting frivolous things – they are things that instill pride and celebrate us.”
Colin Kaepernick, Michael Jackson and Black Panther were also among them.
The audience and the facilitators party together with guests, barely able to sit still as they stroke the canvases that are lined up in the venue with little room to spare. For the breakout twerk sessions that have become as much a part of the event as the painting, they step to the side in the space between where the painting happens and the vendors that feature African American businesses, from sunglasses to desserts and haircare.
“I’ve never witnessed anything like it before,” Stevenson said. “I think it it’s just so different – and so fun.”
Stevenson is usually on site walking back and forth through the venue assisting wherever there is a need. There’s usually a huge smile on her face and she bops to the beat while going about the business of making sure all of the parts are moving at the new downtown venue she worked so hard to get open over the past several months.
“I just want people to get with St. Louis moving in a different direction and giving fresh ideas as far as entertainment and nightlife,” Stevenson said. “I love the support and we need that support to continue if we’re going to be able to keep bringing something different to our city. This is just the beginning of what we are trying to do at the House of Soul.”
Trap Soul & Paint One Year Anniversary Edition will take place from 5 p.m. – 9 p.m. on Sunday, June 30 at The House of Soul, 1204 Washington Ave. For more information or to purchase tickets, visit http://trapsoulpaint.com/