The CIAA party season got into full swing Thursday night, with tons and tons of people squeezing onto the sidewalks and streets of Charlotte.

And when we say “party,” I mean those unofficial events that make up most of this week’s activities; there are dozens to attend and no one can do it all, but I trekked down to uptown last night and checked out two for myself:

Slamfest: First up for my evening of dropping it like it’s hot was a shindig that organizers are calling Slamfest. Now, this particular event — which was held at Reelworks Studio over at the NC Music Factory — has been a talked-about one due to the reported amount of work that went into renovating the party space (and for some problems with some of their scheduled guests). But, I’d say all the work paid off.

Once you enter the mammoth studio and walk around, you’ll notice several large, colorful rooms — with each area sporting a different look.

In some rooms, walls were painted white or bright green and outfitted with an array of ceiling ornaments, winter-white furniture, massive video screens, lighting rigs and more. I know that this spot is designed to be a temporary party zone, but if it stayed open, it would be one the coolest-looking clubs in the city.

Day one of Slamfest was scheduled to feature an appearance by Fantasia, but since I was there kind of early (about 10 p.m.), all I saw was tons of workers running about preparing for their impending guests. (And with so many workers, I could just imagine how much this entire event cost.)

The crowd from about 10 p.m. to 11 p.m. was light, which begs a CIAA-related question: Do I stick around the party I’m at and see if it picks up, or do I take my chances somewhere else? Since I had to cover at least one more party for YOUR voyeuristic enjoyment, I chose to bounce.

Still, I’d say check out Slamfest for yourself — if only to see the incredibly transformed space. The event continues on Friday, March 2 and Saturday, March 3. For more info, visit

Suite Dreams IV: After leaving Slamfest, I journeyed up the street to the EpiCentre so I could pop in Suite Dreams IV over at (wait for it) the nightclub Suite.

As I made my way to the location, I surmised where the bulk of the Thursday party crew was stationed: on College St. With what looked like hundreds of people milling about, it seemed like most folks decided to make EpiCentre their preferred destination for the evening.

Making my way through EpiCentre’s swelling crowd was relatively pain-free, and I easily slipped into Suite, which by 11:30 p.m. was packed full of weaves, kinky twists, button-down shirts, stiletto heels and glasses of Ciroc.

Speaking of that cleverly marketed brand of vodka, I’m going to assume that Ciroc was a major sponsor of this affair. And, I’m basing my assumption on the fact that, stationed around the club, about seven or so dudes were holding up and waving around mammoth-sized cardboard cutouts made to look like bottles of Ciroc.

The music pumping through Suite’s speakers was courtesy of DJ Bro-Rabb (aka Mr. Lawd Have Mercy), who can be seen on the decks at Pop Life (at the nightclub RE:Public) many Wednesdays. Initially, it was apparent that Bro-Rabb was experiencing a few technical difficulties — which I surmised because 1.) he kept calling for a soundman and 2.) the songs he played kept abruptly cutting off.

Surprisingly, the assembled congregation of merrymakers didn’t seem to notice or care about the sound glitches, dancing and drinking as if nothing was wrong.

Suddenly, not too long after I figured out there was a problem, a noticeably frustrated Bro-Rabb announced that everything was in working order (well, he shouted that fact actually) and went in hard on a set of new-school hip-hop and a few classic joints — igniting the already hyped crowd to manic levels. It’s safe to say Suite Dreams IV was a success.

And so, Ciroc coursing through my veins, I shuffled home for some “sweet dreams” of my own.

Check in to CIAA Hangover later today for more reports straight from the party frontlines.

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