This Friday, the Harlem Renaissance will be back in full swing because of the LATIBAH Collard Green Museum annual fundraiser Swinging at The Savoy. It will be a cultural celebration with live music, dance, food, and art. Attendees are encouraged to wear Harlem Renaissance attire or just dress to impress to immerse themselves in the atmosphere that will be created for the evening. From 6:30pm-10:30pm on Friday, Dec. 14, the Mecklenburg Bar & Foundation Center (2850 Zebulon Avenue) will be transformed into the Harlem Renaissance social club the Savoy.
The idea for Swinging at the Savoy came from the mind of LATIBAH Collard Green Museum Executive Director T’Afo Feimster. He explained, “We used the Cotton Club before, but I learned that was being used on a regular basis by another organization. But, I still wanted to reflect that period of time [the Harlem Renaissance]. So that was when Swinging at the Savoy came to me.” He continued, “The Savoy was another major social club during the Harlem Renaissance time. So I thought we would just pull that theme out. Swinging at the Savoy would allow us to cover the culture of that time in the arts, music, dress, etc.”
Swinging at the Savoy will bring the social club atmosphere of the past back to life. It will be an evening of food, entertainment, and dance just like the format of social clubs of the past. Paired with the entertainment will be an educational component for the night. There will be moments that highlight the placemaking power of the Historic West End’s social clubs as social and civic gathering places for the community. “The Excelsior Club, Club Bali, and the HiFi Club were key social gathering spaces [in Historic West End]. Nationally we will look at the Harlem Renaissance and locally we will look at the social clubs in the West End that were very key in the ’40s and ’50s,” said Feimster.
Recognizing the Historic West End social clubs is just a small portion of the education component for the night. Swinging at the Savoy is focused on providing experiential education to attendees. From their style of dress, to the live band A Sign Of The Times, to the dance performance by the Purple Charlotte Steppers, attendees are having the social club experience for themselves.
The live entertainment will mix a sense of the past with the present. A Sign Of The Times will play a mix of swing era music and classic R&B. Toni Tuppounce of A Sign Of The Times explained, “The event is to bring on the elegance of the swing era, but at the same time recognize that people want to also dance to more contemporary music.” The Purple Charlotte Steppers will perform a contemporary dance style derived from several dance styles of the past. Demond Carter of the Purple Charlotte Steppers explained, “The Detroit Ballroom and Chicago Steppin’ style is a couple-based dance derived from the Charleston and the Lindy Hop.” The Charleston and Lindy Hop were popular dance styles during the 1920s at the height of Harlem Renaissance.
This culmination event of the West End Talks series of conversations is bringing education and entertainment together for attendees. To experience history through immersive entertainment, be sure to grab your ticket for Swinging at the Savoy from Eventbrite.