A look back at 2018: Take 2. As promised, I would bring y’all the highs and lows (but mostly highs) with a rewind of last year. Because the holiday gave us a wonky deadline, you will have to wait until next week to find out who brought the New Year’s Eve party heat, but as a sneak preview, I will let y’all know I was pleasantly surprised with just about all of my many, many stops. Shall we get right to it? We must. Okay, before I do, can I say one thing: I was so thirsty to say, “I told y’all so” about Tiffany Haddish that I had this item forcibly entered into my prerecorded rundown. Y’all can’t accuse me of being a bandwagon hater in light of Haddish’s most recent standup flop since I mentioned her hot mess of a show in St. Louis a whole week before she found out the hard way that Ciroc and standup don’t mix. If it weren’t for the opening act who tripped over her stilettos trying to drop it like it was hot on that Pageant stage – which gave her wig a gangsta lean for the rest of her set – I wouldn’t have laughed a single time during that show. Unlike that tattered, crunchy thing on Marlo’s head, I’m sure Tiffany will bounce back. Amanda Seales’ second show of the St. Louis leg of her “Smart, Black and Funny” tour at Delmar Hall was also among the low lights of my comedy year. I will say that it wasn’t Amanda’s fault that she requested a smart, black and funny contestant for her game show format and the man showed up with one out of three of the required traits (here’s a hint: he wasn’t smart or funny).
Some unlikely fun. 2018 was the year of “I never thought I would have so much fun here!” When Kameel Stanley of St. Louis Public Radio hit me up about a “trap run,” I was like “girl, I know you used to be a crime reporter, but had no idea you were about that life.” She was talking about a Trap 5K through the historic Ville Neighborhood. I took her up on her offer and I had a blast. Residents were peeking out the windows and cars trying to figure out what was happening. Some man asked, “who all y’all running from?” Can we talk for a second about this community of fine menses (copyright Antione Merriweather from “Men on Film”) who are a part of a group of folks who run for fun at races around the region that I never knew about until that Sunday morning? I’ve even started off the New Year by cranking up the “Couch To 5K” app so that I won’t be humiliated when people ask me my race time next year. Another inaugural event that had me happy to gather with my folks was the Taste of Black St. Louis in Tower Grove Park. I know it cancels out the aforementioned healthy run, but it was still so awesome … and I can’t wait to see how the organizers grow it in years to come, because it has the potential to be something big. I know y’all are all Wakanda’d out now, but the audience participation of opening weekend of “Black Panther” was an absolute ball. Your outfits and Zamunda antics were as entertaining as the record-breaking cultural phenomenon of a film. “Wakanda Foreva!!!” And you might not believe me, but I had an absolute ball at the elderly R&B concert Thanksgiving Soul Jam at Stifel Theatre that featured The Dramatics and just about every R&B male group from the Time Life Body and Soul CD collection.
The places to be. Because of how traffic on Olive and Grand was backed up like a car show in 2017 by folks coming to check out Neighborhood Flavors, I knew history would repeat itself at the Public Commons space over by the Nine Network. I was absolutely right! It was the outdoor event of 2018. And can we take just a minute to talk about the intersection of black excellence and black elegance that was the Legal Solution Group Holiday Party at the Ritz-Carlton! Everybody up in there – including the organizers – came to slay. DELUX’s Power 100 is constantly growing and all the beautiful movers and shakers in the best of their good clothes packed out the Chase Park Plaza Khorassan Ballroom on December 23. Do you know how much sauce it requires to convince folks to get dolled up and come to an awards show on the Sunday before Christmas? Keith Griffin and his whole team have that Bruce Leroy glow for pulling it off. I would start listing the name-brand folks at all of these events, but I would need another Partyline to ensure that I won’t leave anyone off. You already know Arts, Beats and Lyrics had Ballpark Village on lean and I’m here for every vibe that James Biko served up with his 90s Jams and Supernatural sets. Speaking of natural, Frizzfest expanded like nobody’s business for year two and the coming together of kinks, coils, locs, curls, fros and fades in Tower Grove Park was totally worth me almost being late for Anita Baker. The Migos and Nipsy Hussle’s respective visits to the Marquee brought out the masses of savage millennials as did Money Bagg Yo and Yo Gotti at The Pageant.
This one’s for the givers. There were some people typically known for nightlife and entertainment that renewed my faith in humanity with their holiday antics. Nichol Stevenson and Angela Brown of Café Soul, selflessly gave up family time to spend their Thanksgiving feeding the homeless – and did the same thing on Christmas. Shout out to The Larry Hughes Foundation for providing support to Café Soul’s mission – and to all of the volunteers who came through to lend a hand. Also, let me give props to Phil Assets and the Liquid Assets team for their holiday toy giveaway. And St. Louis’ own super producer Metro Boomin’ – who gave a total of $20,000 to a church full of single mothers so their families could have Christmas. Oh, and shout out to the Sauce Event Series crew and the Marquee for their citywide trunk-or-treat that brought kids from all over for a fun and safe Halloween experience. I know I’m leaving out some folks and institutions who stepped up and showed out in a major way. Please drop me a line and I will be sure to shout them out.