Behold — it is here: the CIAA tournament … with hundreds of parties and thousands of visitors along for the ride.

With so many activities and so many people, the whole event can seem overwhelming. Many folks even opt to just sit out the week and wait until the smoke clears to surface once again.

But, you don’t have to succumb to the crushing pressure of CIAA stress. You can partake in the festivities and have a smashing good week. Just read the following Dos and Don’ts (compiled by the folks here at Qcitymetro), and you’ll minimize your chances of having an awful time.

DO arrive early. As much as I hate to bring up the whole “late” stereotype regarding African Americans, let’s face facts — some of us are on “CP Time.” During CIAA, however, if you choose to arrive fashionably late, you just might find yourself on the outside of a party looking in. No one is saying you have to show up when the doors of an event open, but don’t try to walk in the door at midnight either. Plus, with the prices folks are paying to party, why not get your money’s worth?

DON’T equate celebrities with a great party. How does an appearance by Rick Ross or whoever equal a great night? Think about it: Once a celeb shows up to a party (that’s IF they show up), he/she is going to plop down in VIP — seemingly never to be seen again. And you paid an arm and a leg to watch them drink and pose for iPhone photos? Now, if you’re a big fan and want to complete your autograph collection, I understand; everybody else, not so much.

DO adhere to the dress code. “The last thing you want to do,” said promoter Mike Kitchen, who is hosting a number of parties this week, “is go up to do a door and security won’t let you in because you’re not dressed accordingly.”

Not even Rick Ross can save a sucky party.

DON’T travel from party to party via Tryon St. Folks, Tryon is going to be a parking lot. There are so many other streets in Charlotte; please consult your GPS or a map and pick another route. Better yet, park somewhere uptown, away from main party spots, and just walk.

• Speaking of parking, DO pay to park. I know one way to truly screw up your CIAA festivities: watching your car get towed or booted. Yes, parking can be expensive, but it’s cheaper to pay $20 up front than pay $100 (and up) on the flipside. Plus, by parking in a secure lot, you minimize the chances of some random idiot smashing in your windows and stealing something.

DON’T think just because you bought advanced tickets you’re getting in the party. Sure, if you purchased tickets way in advance you SHOULD get in the party with no hassle. But, if you show up at 12:30 a.m. and the club is at capacity, chances are you aren’t getting in.

• That said DO buy advanced tickets. I know, it’s a bit of a contradiction, but reputable promoters who know what time it is make accommodations for ticketholders. “With some events, they even have advance ticket lines,” said Kitchen. “So, if you bought advanced tickets, you know you’re getting in.” (Just be early, OK?)

DON’T drink too much. The streets of Charlotte will be filled with two types of folks this week: bad drivers and cops. Trust me when I say you don’t want to encounter either one of these guys. And even if you’re not driving, there’s no way you can really indulge in this cluster#@& of parties if you’re hungover. Pace yourself and hydrate, and you’ll have a good time … and avoid jail time.

DO consider bottle service: I normally hate bottle service, equating it with the jerkier elements of society (along with people who walk around with earpieces and guys who wear Ed Hardy T-shirts), but during CIAA, bottle service can actually make sense. Depending on where you decide to rest your rump, if a group of partygoers pool their cash, it’s usually cheaper than buying individual drinks all night (and you have someplace to rest your rump). This philosophy doesn’t always work, but do the math on your own and see what you find.

• One last DO: Be patient. Kitchen advises: “Because of the crowds, you will have to wait for some things like drinks, to get in, bathrooms and things like that.” So, don’t be a jerk. Be nice, have fun and be safe.

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