While we are busy getting ready for our anniversary fete later tonight, we don’t want our non-NYC Parlouristas to miss out on the fun, so we decided today would be the perfect day to introduce you to another event that you definitely need to make time for. Because if it’s good enough for Beyoncé and Jay-Z to make a quick stop through, E.Z. Moe Breezy’s now almost-legendary Dirty South Party, Grits & Biscuits, should definitely be on your calendar.
A few hours before making their Manhattan debut — the party started in Brooklyn — we sat down with the three minds behind the event to get the story. Comprised of Alzo Slade (The Dirty Mouth), Erika Lewis (The Dirty Mind) and Maurice Slade (The Dirty Mixer) the three had a lot to say on what makes this southern-inspired event a hit here in the north and where they are gearing to take it next. Grits and Biscuits Brixton anyone? Because we are feminist enough for some bootyshake!
On Why They Started Grits & Biscuits …
Alzo Slade: I’ve been in Brooklyn for a minute and I love Fela, I love Stevie and I love Prince but every once in awhile you just need to shake a lil’ something. I have a homegirl in Houston that’s a DJ and every time I go home, I’d get mixed CDs from her. I was in the truck one night with Erika and I had the CD in and she was like ‘You need to make me a copy of this.”
We (Erika And I) said we should throw a party with nothing but this music because I’m sure there are other folks like us that are upwardly mobile, doctors and lawyers who’re from the South, love Dirty South music, went to school in the south, love southern music and so we said, let’s do it. We figured out Southpaw as the location, then we pulled in my little brother Maurice.
My brother DJ’d at FAMU and so I asked if he wanted to DJ and he said ‘Let’s do it.’ It became E.Z. Mo Breezy. E for Erika, Z for Zo and Mo for Maurice and Breezy cause we just cool like that playa!
Erika Lewis: That was 2009. We talked about it for six months and every time we talked to someone about it they got hype. Then Maurice and his boys threw a crawfish broil …
Maurice Slade: I hadn’t DJ’d at that point in like two years so I was unsure of my skills, then we threw the crawfish boil [We were there, it was absolutely insane] and I was like ‘Yeah, let’s do this.’
On The First Grits and Biscuits Party …
MS: The first one was in July 2009 … full disclosure, we didn’t know what was going to happen at that first party. We didn’t print any fliers, it was all Facebook, email, and word of mouth. When we went to the venue (Brooklyn now defunct Southpaw), the manager said ‘How many are you expecting?’ We said ‘Hopefully we can get 250.’ And he said ‘If you get 250, that’d be great!’ The Southpaw capacity is like 550 and that’s how many people we got so they were overjoyed.
EL: They ran out of stuff — we didn’t know the majority of the people there.
AS: I don’t know how people found out about it! I really don’t!
EL: The 20-30s group at Emmanuel Baptist Church [in Brooklyn, NY], they were the first ones there!
AS: Pray together, party together. They set it off, and it’s a classic example of if there’s a need and you fill the need, people will come out. People recognize that people need to let off some steam and people were tired of the VIP velvet room bottle service stuff. Here, everybody’s VIP. In your booty shorts. You can come in your heels if you want to but …
On What’s Next For Grits and Biscuits …
MS: Now, we’ve got Saturday Morning Cartoons, [a party filled with hits from our high school and middle school days].
EL: This summer we’re aiming to take Grits & Biscuits to Chicago.
EL: Los Angeles is on the schedule at some point too, and we want to go abroad.
AS: South Africa.
EL: Paris, Lagos, I figure if we put it out into the universe someone will make it happen.
MS: We’d like to do a second anniversary party this summer, and we’re open to traveling.
On What Makes Grits So Successful …
EL: At all of the places we’ve thrown Grits & Biscuits, there’s a mutual respect between us and the venue. Every once and awhile folks lose their minds a little bit but you just have to bring them back.
AS: It’s funny, at the last two venues, they’ve always been surprised that black folks can come in and handle business the way that we do and party in a safe place, and a safe way.
EL: I think they underestimated us in the beginning. But now, we’ve built a reputation so hopefully the word will continue to spread.
On Grits & Biscuit-eque Parties Gaining Popular …
AS: There will imitators, there will be duplicators but they will never be the originators!
MS: There were always Southern parties before us, we can’t stop people from doing them. I think they’re cool, so why not?
EL: For the first party we didn’t know what to expect but now we’ve created something and it’s difficult to duplicate what we have. You can play Southern music, you could pass out church fans, but it wouldn’t be the same.
AS: All of us have different roles and some overlap but none of us want to do what the other does in the way that the other person does it. The chemistry between the three of us has a lot to do with why these events became so successful. We really are concerned about the way our patrons are treated so when we go to venues we’re very intuitive about the staff and how they will treat the patrons. We want to make sure it’s a positive experience for everyone involved, from the bartender to the janitor to the people who’re coming to party. Make sure it’s a safe place for people to get down and enjoy themselves. As long as we stick to that foundation, our event will be unique.
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