Saturday night at Club Eleven in West Hollywood, gay, straight, bi, Black, brown, and white Angelinos came out to celebrate the birthday of Michelle Levy, better known as ½ of the power duo behind the legendary Michelle’s XXX and Soulful Touch Entertainment.
With DJ Spark on the 1s and 2s, the club was packed from the first floor to the second with an enviable list of who’s who in attendance. Above R&B singer turned radio host Al B. Sure, one of the many celebs came out to pay respect, plays with Michelle’s signature ponytail.
While I am not a club person in general, I have no problems coming out to support and celebrate my fam, of which Michelle and her business partner Roz aka RaRa are a part of.
Say what you want about clubs, and at times, I have and probably will again—no shade. However, they serve a purpose in our community—and not just getting numbers and cruising. Our clubs provide a space for us to be us in an environment where while we might be judged on what we’re wearing or not wearing—we won’t be judged because we’re with someone of the same-sex (unless you’re perpetrating…sorry just keeping it real). And that means a lot especially to those of us that are still getting dressed in the closet or are just coming into our sexuality.
Hosting a club for our community is no easy task. From finding a venue that’s not going to charge an arm and an leg and is welcoming to a different kind of clientèle, to dealing with the fact that sometimes when we get full we like to fight and don’t care who it affects, from week to week, club promoters are faced with a myriad of issues. Those that do it well are the ones that sustain because we recognize their efforts and their ability to host a good party and we support them by coming out week after week.
In L.A., we are fortunate to have a host of club promoters, both lesbian and gay that cater to the Black community…Michelle’s XXX is one such example. From rap song shout outs to their celebrity clientele, Michelle and Roz have made a name for themselves nationwide and Tuesday nights in Los Angeles for lesbian and bisexual women of color, and the men who love them—lol.
But don’t think for one moment that club promoters don’t have a life outside of the club. Michelle and Roz are both proof of that. In fact—Roz has become a mentor to me in the past couple of years and her advice has been invaluable, as has Michelle’s. Michelle has been an actor on The Shield for the last three seasons, where she plays an undercover cop. She’s also appeared in ABC’s Grey’s Anatomy and in the L.A. Times and TV Guide. Roz is an executive for a Forbes 500 company for the better part of two decades. They are both very much involved in the community and recognize that what happens in Washington and Sacramento has a direct impact on their club and their audience and are always willing to spread the word about other issues and events relative to the community in general. In fact, for the most part, all of the club promoters in L.A. that focus on the Black same-gender loving community have always demonstrated a willingness to get involved and at the very least spread the word—so kudos to you! Because you know, like I know, that when it comes to our community, while you might not find us at a rally you will find us up in the da club—translation—sometimes the mountain has to go to Mohamed.
Next month Michelle and Roz will celebrate 18 years in the business. 18 years of pole dancing, booties shaking, drinks flowing, and music bumping. 18 years of creating a space for young Black lesbians to come into their own while maturing into older Black lesbians. 18 years of near naked dancers and starving deejays being able to pay their bills because they were hired to work by Michelle and Roz. 18 years of jams and questionable lyrics. But 18 years of community pride, involvement, support, and friendship too. They follow in the footsteps of other community pioneers like Jewel Thais-Williams (Catch One), Ivan Daniel (First Fridayz, Metro Wednesdays), and Michael Lafeyette (The Study), Lamont Master’s, Ebony Lane, Lonnie Simpson (Boytrade/Girltrade), Trish (Club Cherrie Pie), Cabrini, and Ronnie (Horizon).
Like I said in the beginning—say what you want to say about what happens inside the club, but recognize that it takes a lot to put on those clubs and the people behind them work very hard for each and every event they host. They also paved the way for the next generation of club promoters, including The Hole in Wall who will be celebrating their 7th year in business as an after hours spot for lesbian women of color—in the hood mind you at Normandie and 95th and Tombois Swagg, who also hosts events for lesbians of color in L.A.
And quite frankly, Los Angeles is extremely fortunate to have so many clubs that are run by and put on for Black lesbians. After traveling around the country, I can tell you that in some cities, there’s only one club for everyone—men, women, Black, brown, and white. One club where hip-hop, house, and R&B might not be the music of choice and so if you want to club you might have to do it to techno, rock, country, or pop. In fact, one city I visited, the gay club was in the backwoods—I guess I should mention this was in the Deep South, lol. Yes, I’d say we’re pretty fortunate here in La La Land.
For now, I just want to say Happy Birthday to Michelle and congrats to both Roz and Michelle for all that they do. I had a blast, drank too much, and arrived late to my hike this morning in sunglasses pleading for no sudden movements, bright lights, or loud noises, lol.