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Spread Love, not hate

Lost soul finds nu groove at DJ Kemit's monthly

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I don't know how I missed the memo that patrons dressed as their favorite soul icon would receive free admission to DJ Kemit's soul power-themed event, Spread Love.

Since I'd already paid my way into 595 North, I rushed back to the front door and told them that my garb was a tribute to Lionel Richie and they owed me a few dollars. Sure I was missing the wavy shag, but other than that I thought I was dead on. They disagreed. I tried Jeffrey Osborne, then Jermaine Jackson; I think they caught on to me. Oh well, back to the party.

For those unfamiliar with the event, it's described as a monthly music, art and dance retrospective with bazaar noir vendors. Yeah, I was confused, too. But as someone who's used to roped-off VIP sections with multiple bouncers and bottle service, I was invigorated to see African-American artists, designers and entrepreneurs using the party to generate income.

Well, that was my first thought, until I began to run a price check.

The petite masseuse with the massage chair in the darkest corner of the club was alluring, but she was charging $1 per minute for her services. On the side of the dance floor, a gifted artist named Corey Whitehead was painting a curvy, black woman on a canvas and easel. When he told me what the prices were for each painting, I wondered who would pay a thousand dollars for hand-created images of Ray Charles, Michael Jackson and Marvin Gaye. Then I scolded myself for failing to ask that question when it comes to overpriced bottles of Cristal and Veuve Clicquot champagne in the club.

The insatiable hypocrite in me couldn't even focus on Monica Smith's beautiful, handcrafted jewelry and accessories without noticing her photographs of the famous folks modeling her product. India.Arie and Erykah Badu looked stunning in her stones, but a picture of the fake celebrity/VH1 basketball ex-wife to Shaquille, Shaunie O'Neal, made me chuckle.

There I was at Spread Love, spreading hate.

I joked with friends that I might order a healthy green tea instead of a Long Island iced tea. But I decided to go with the latter upon receiving a text from my boy asking if any "bitches" were at the party. After gazing around the room, I hit him back: "No bitches, earthy queens tho." Had it been the typical nightspot, I would've written my usual "hell yeah" or something crass, while gawking at overexposed cleavage and cheeks. Instead, women were rocking three-fourths of cloth and natural hairdos, while dudes wore dashikis, sans the iced-out pendants.

At Spread Love, guys didn't "holla" at ladies, they addressed them: "Excuse me, sister" replaced "What up, shawty?" If you got bumped you responded, "Pardon me, brother" — whether it was your fault or not.

DJ Kemit wasn't shouting out regions of the country to find out who was in the house. He was blending Wham with Stevie Wonder, and no one was requesting Jay-Z or Lil Wayne. People were losing control to the congo-driven, house-fusion sound fittingly labeled global soul. They didn't care that Kemit played only about 20 songs in three hours, with each selection lasting an epic eight minutes or more.

But don't let my cynicism misguide you. Spread Love is about an atmosphere of uplift more than Afrocentric wears and paintings symbolic of black love. My usual nightlife woes revolve around long lines, bias dress codes, unnecessary bathroom attendants and obnoxious people. Yet even in the absence of those things, I still sarcastically smirk at a good time.

Apparently, I just need more love spread in my direction.

MORE DJ KEMIT IN JULY

Sat., July 10. $5. Kicking Up Dust: a deep house lounge set. The Sound Table, 483 Edgewood Ave. 404-835-2534. www.595north.com.

Fri., July 16. Free. 5-7 p.m. Spread Love at National Black Arts Festival. Centennial Olympic Park.

Sat., July 24. $15-$20. 10 p.m. Spread Love with Sy Smith, Mark de Clive-Lowe, Omar Phillips. 595 North, 595 North Ave. 404-835-2329. experiencespreadlove.com.

Sat. July 31. $40-$75. One Music Fest with Common, De La Soul, Goapele, Mick Boogie. King Plow Arts Center, 955 W. Marietta St. onemusicfest.com.

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