Music After Sunset

A crawl through the San Antonio club scene – Rainbow coalition

At the end of another long work day, a co-worker handed me an invitation to “Celebrate Black History Month with the BHM Committee Members” at The Studio.

Our BHM committee had been working hard for the past few months to prepare for our company’s 4th Annual BHM program, and despite many obstacles — an ever-changing budget, company layoffs that took some key committee members away from us — we had pulled it off. Now it was time to celebrate with some barbecue and live music.

The Studio bills itself as the “home of Michael Ward.” Ward, a successful jazz violinist, celebrates his birthday at The Studio on March 31.

I held the blue flier in my hands and studied the list of “requirements” for potential patrons to The Studio: 25 years and up; a dress code prohibiting jeans or athletic wear; reserved seating. I wondered: “How formal is this place?” It also promised a complimentary buffet and a performance from the Louisiana group LEJIT, described as “Old School, R&B, Jazz, Blues.” A year ago, I had missed our committee’s party, but this year I felt less shy and, having grown to know and love my committee peeps, was determined to attend.

The day of the party fell on “Jeans Friday,” but I strutted into work in a nice pair of sparkly slacks and a sexy blouse. The work day flew by as I had my mind focused on dancing (which I’m not often in the mood for) and checking out a new scene. I was also curious to find out if The Studio catered to a primarily African-American crowd, as I’d not yet found such a venue during my short time in San Antonio. (This could be due to the fact that I’m not quite sure where to look. In my hometown of Kansas City, I knew where to go for every type of crowd or genre, but I’m still seeking out San Antonio’s pockets of diversity.)

When I pulled into the parking lot, I immediately recognized the guys from LEJIT (I’d looked them up on-line) milling around out front, talking on cell phones. They were young and handsome and seemed to be full of pre-performance energy. I skirted by them and walked into The Studio with my own brand of Friday-night energy.

The Studio
9323 Perrin Beitel Road
(210) 650-5858

The interior of the club was much bigger than it appeared from the outside, and resembled a roller rink. The room was huge and dark, full of tables in every corner surrounding a large, open space in the middle. Everything was true to the invitation: People (over 25) trickled in wearing all manner of slick attire and grouped off into various parties nestled in cubbies and corners. I saw more than one table of food, and black balloons taped to the tables reached longingly for the ceiling. I wondered if The Studio was always this festive, or if all the hoopla was strictly related to the Black History Month celebration.

It was a little overwhelming at first, but then I saw the familiar faces of some committee members beckoning to me from the far-left corner. Our assigned spot was ideal. It was right next to the stage, and had its own pool table and bar (complete with a hip little bartender who made outstanding Colorado Bulldogs), and the barbecue was heaping and mouth-watering. As my friends and I ate platefuls of ribs, chicken, and beans, The Studio seemed to shrink as the crowd grew in size. By the looks of the people around me, it was either a very special event or these were professional folk; I saw a lot of silk and satin, shiny boots and fancy hats.

When the whole venue was slammin’, LEJIT finally appeared on stage and a shock of collective feminine swooning filled the room. LEJIT consists of a DJ and vocalists who take turns singing the lead and backup parts. They busted out some old Motown and it didn’t take long before booties were flying. When the tall, thin man from LEJIT began to sing, the women went crazy. Somewhere in the distance, a voice called out: “If I wasn’t married, I’d be in trouble right now!” Response: “Girl, you’re in trouble right now cuz you are married!” Tall slick definitely had a way about him. I called it smooth. I never knew a person could be so smooth in all aspects of existence. His walk was smooth, his ever-so-slight groove to the rhythm was smooth, his voice was rich and smooth. He oozed smoothness. It was infectious and soon the dance floor was filled, and I was right there in the middle of it, trying to be as smooth as I could while trying not to bump into too many dancers around me. But no one seemed to notice or care. We were riding the music.

Songs that everyone was singing along with soon became familiar to me, too. “Joy ... and Pain! Like Sunshine ... and Rain!” My partner and I twirled around each other, lightly touching shoulders and hips from time to time. My eyes were closed and I was propelled by the rhythmic wave of the dance floor.

Suddenly I bumped into Fred, the other committee leader, and his dance partner. A warm smile flashed across his face as he continued to move in time to the band. “Hey, Brooke!” There on the dance floor, the 2006 Black History Month theme came to life. Through music and dancing, we were all celebrating community.

By Brooke Palmer


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