Kicking it with James Blog Friday, May 15, 2020 Now that parts of Ohio have reopened, are you ready to come out and treat it as business as usual? I am not, I pray that all the people who attempt to start their life over again, but running out with masks or trying to practice being safe. Many that felt this was a hoax, I hope they now understand by all the individuals that have passed, it's no joke. Summer events have been wiped out. The new summer highlight will be grilling in your back yard while practicing social distancing. I was dreaming last night and had flashbacks about going to the Host House and other clubs. I think most High School students attended each weekend to get their dance on, and yes, even made new friends. Now, like I have stated so many times, I went to the best High School in Cleveland, John F. Kennedy High School. Our class was on the bomb. Even tho we lost so many from our class to death, I still get to see many at the All-Class picnic each year. I remember having a 1974 White Chevy in 1975 and 76 with spoke rims and white walls; I think I was digging in the scene with the gangster lean, woo woo. I was driving out Chagrin, which by the way, then seems so far and long to get to the bomb club. My look was a very long perm that I sweated out every weekend dancing and even tried to get out of going to church one Sunday. My mother woke me up and said, "Time to get ready for church, and I responded that I don't have any curls. She walked out of my room and returned shortly with some rollers and a small jar of pre-con gel, rolled my hair up, and put me under the dryer; I never used that excuse again. I remember us dancing at the Host House to the Ohio Players Rollercoaster and Parliament Flashlight, to name a few. A lot of us East Senate students always seem to want to get close to those Shaker Heights girls or Regina, which were high-class schools. So when Earth Wind & Fire's Can't Hide Love or Grover Washington's Mr. Magic started playing, you went to find them to get close, slow dancing and hand dancing. I never smoked or drank, still don't, but I loved to dance, so I was there every weekend. So many great memories out there, I even won a dance contest with Aliyyah K. Hameed, the tickets were to see Bootsy Collins. Even tho you had so many great clubs like The Mad Hatter, Forge, Oak Room, and the hangout for what I called The OG's, The Famous Lancers Steak House located at 7707 Carnegie Ave. I was not old enough to go in there when Fleet Slaughter owned it. Talking to the late Congressman Louis Stokes shared with me, they would come to Lancers to go upstairs to the meeting room, which was a great gathering place for politicians, business people, and celebrities, and as a venue that worked to bridge racial divisions. The Lancer Steak House was the place where Mayoral candidate Carl Stokes in 1967. I remember nothing went down at that club because of the late Agie Green; he could smile one minute and be dangerous the next. My other my all-time favorite place was The Reason Why on Shaker Square. I hung in there every day but Monday, that's because they were closed. I would leave Togo playing dominoes and go up there to hear Lem Adams and Forecast all the time, during that era, Forecast had Lem Adams, David Crawford then George Pearson on keys, Tiger on Sax, Dave Green on drums and Carmen on lead guitar. You had to go downstairs to dance to the mix master Bud McFarland jamming on the wheels of steel. Bud would come out on the dance floor and show out dancing. A lot of musical stars would often come there, Alex Bugnon, Najes Band, played one night. I was so hooked on that club; I would leave my church, which had a late-night broadcast, and head up there around midnight to get two hours in (smh). The things you would do when you're young. Even funnier then this was Tiger, George, and I would leave the Reason Why at 2:30 am had to Chuck's Diner in Cleveland Height's for another couple of hours laughing and talking.
I grew up in the Lee Harvard area, and there was a club on Lee Road call The Chique, I spent a lot of time there. Kevin Chillious who's brother owned the club, would keep me in trouble (laughing), but it was all in good fun. Dancing upstairs and bands downstairs I remember always enjoying James Walker and his brother and Dewayne Jones (Tiny) on bass. They would do Luther Vandross A House is not a Home and kill it.
Now The Red Carpet on East 105 was a gathering spot for many years during my era before moving on Fairhill and becoming Vels, this 20,000 square foot state of the art entertainment complex. The home of The Quarter Century Club every Wednesday and then Thursday. Those days Kym Sellers was be hanging out there from WZAK. On this night, people would be lined up around the building to get in.
Now Vel's was a place that many celebrities came to be part of nights like the Quarter Century Club, Night Flight, College, and Teen Night, and the banging weekend club mixes. It was not unlikely for you to walk in and see former heavyweight champ Mike Tyson mingling with the guests. Scott had established the place as one of Cleveland's premier places to be. Many people had their events at Vel's, from birthday parties to fashion shows.
Now please understand there are many clubs I did not name, I am sorry if I did mention your favorite club, but you are welcome to comment on which club was your favorite and what year if you can remember.