New Labor Day tradition taking root in New Orleans
25th August 2014 · 0 Comments
Labor Day Weekend in New Orleans has often been associated with the start of a new school year, family reunions and end-of-the summer barbecues. But if one fledgling group of ambitious businessmen have their way, from here on out it will also be the weekend that grown folks get together for an old-fashioned good time and a chance to strengthen the community by building new networks of support and cooperation.
Among those young entrepreneurs is Davanti Bryant, a graduate of L.W. Higgins Senior High School and Southern University-Baton Rouge, who is well-versed in the art of getting people together for social and networking opportunities.
As a secondary education major at Southern, Bryant began hosting social events in 2004 in Baton Rouge under the banner of House Party Productions. After moving back to New Orleans in 2006, he began working as a teacher and noticed that there were a lot of grown folks in the Crescent City who could find very little to do.
After brainstorming and charting a course for future success, A Cut Above Entertainment was born.
“We knew we needed a name that we could use to elevate to the next level, so eventually we came up with the name A Cut Above Entertainment,” Bryant told The Louisiana Weekly. “The name speaks for itself we want to be a cut above the rest, a cut above what anybody else in the market is doing.”
Bryant said that his time as a teacher on the West Bank made him aware of a lot of his colleagues that often had nothing to do on the weekend. Many of them were not into bounce music or college parties, he said.
“I sat back for awhile and took a close look at what New Orleans needed,” Bryant recalled. “I wanted to cater to people who were not going out and doing clubs. We want to reach the people We want to reach the people who are not going out every Friday night for happy hour.”
Bryant’s eight years as a teacher allowed him to make invaluable contacts with fellow educators and administrators and those relationships have paved the way for the success of A Cut Above Entertainment, he said Monday.
“I just left out of a school gym and a 47-year-old woman told me, ‘This is gonna be nice,’” he said. “I want to do events where we can get our aunties and mamas out, as well as the other segments of the community.”
To that end, A Cut Above Entertainment offers discounts to any state or city officials or employees. “We do that to draw them in and let them know that they are our target audience,” Bryant said. “As they become familiar with A Cut Above Entertainment, they’ll know that we’re not going to have any ‘children’ in there. It’s going to be an event that attracts husbands and wives.”
Last year, A Cut Above launched its first All-White Party. Hosted by R&B crooner R. Kelly, the event drew more than 3,000 participants.
While some who attended the event were disappointed that they didn’t get more from the King of R&B, that disappointment paled in comparison to the positive reviews the inaugural All-White Party received.
“He sang one song but he wasn’t paid to perform,” Bryant explained. “He couldn’t perform in New Orleans because of contractual obligations.”
This year’s All-White Party will include entertainment by R&B singers Tank and Ginuwine, as well as an all-star lineup of DJs that includes DJ Chicken, DJ Captain Charles and DJ Child Support.
Sponsored by A Cut Above Entertainment and Da Hair Connect, 7901 Earhart Blvd., the All-White Party will take place Sunday night, Aug. 31, at the Hyatt Regency Hotel.
Serving as hosts for the events will be a number of New Orleans Saints players including Kenny Vaccarro, and Keenan Lewis.
DJ Chicken, born Kenneth Williams, is a McDonogh 35 alum who began deejaying while in high school. He inherited a love and appreciation for music from his pops, a percussionist with popular R&B group Chocolate Milk.
Williams has honed his craft as a DJ for nearly three decades and has taken his gifts as a “music selector” all over the world. His passport has taken him to London, Amsterdam, Italy and Germany “I’m always traveling and doing stuff,” he told The Louisiana Weekly.
“We want everybody to know that this is an event — it is something nice,” Bryant said. “It is something that we’re trying to brand in New Orleans. Eventually, we’re going to start to add more and more to the weekend slate of events so that people are flying into New Orleans Labor Day weekend to enjoy a full lineup of events and networking opportunities.”
For additional information, visit www.labordayallwhiteparty.com.
This article originally published in the August 25, 2014 print edition of The Louisiana Weekly newspaper.