Hip-hop/Spirituality/Freethinking. Speaking for all underdogs!
Denver’s Club Kasbah: Some of the Best Partying Evaaar!
By Khalil Amani
Having partied and clubbed all over America—from South Beach Miami’s Club Play, Liv, SOBE Live and King of Diamonds—to Atlanta’s Luckie Lounge—to the DMV’s Triples—to Newark’s Sensations (what Lauryn Hill sung about)—to Omaha’s Backstreets—to San Diego’s Saxx and all through Los Angeles and Las Vegas—to the VFWs and “holes in the wall” everywhere, I know a great party club when I’m in one!
Before hip-hop music permeated the Denver, Colorado club scene, there was one club that was all about the “grown & sexy”—The Kasbah, an Arabic word meaning “fortress.” Owned and operated by Shelton Bouknight, The Kasbah is nestled up to a cozy middle-class neighborhood two blocks from the highway and less than a mile from where that crazy white guy shot up the theater in Aurora. The Kasbah used to be the place to be on a Friday night! I’m talking circa 1998 to 2006—what I consider the “Golden Age” of The Kasbah—when many of you that go there now were snotty-nose bebe kids!
It’s not that The Kasbah was all fancy-smancy like these high-tech clubs today. Nay! It was rather regular on the inside. Oh, but the crowd was the bestest the city had to offer! At six-o’clock on any given Friday the parking lot was filled to the rim for Happy Hour and spilled on over to the wee hours. The hawtest, prettiest, beautifulest, sweetest chicks women in Denver rolled up in their deep! (And I suppose the women would say that the men were dapper and debonair. Indeed, we were fly!)
I would bet that there were as many "virtuous women" in The Kasbah on a Friday night as there were in church on Sunday morning! (See Proverbs 31: 10-31) Did I mention I met my wife at The Kasbah?
I had my first book-signing at The Kasbah!
It was all about that Old School feel with a new-jack swing. DJ Suicide (think Superfly) and Doc McClain R.I.P. (If Santa was a black man, he’d be it!) They rocked the mic and burned the wheels of steel playing everything from Luther Vandross to Tupac and Nelly. It was a party! We had Soul Train lines, line dancing and straight-up slow bumpin’ & grindin’. There was no V.I.P. area or bottle service or any other vain and profligate attempt at ballin’ on a budget. No one was pretentious or “extra.”
The dress code was strictly enforced. No jeans—for men or women! Everybody was casket-sharp—three-piece suits, Godfather brims & fedoras, Stacey Adams shoes, dresses & skirts, hair & make-up “did”—no saggin’, no oversized T-shirts—no sneakers—none of that crap! And I don’t recall one fight during that period and I was a “regular”—so much so that a day came when they just started waving me through the door when I went to pay the $5.00 cover charge. (Later on I found out that because I was a party-starter—a dancer—I was part of the Kasbah party machine. If I would’ve known this I would’ve asked for pay! No, not really! LOL!)
(Me! [Middle] and some of my dudes @ Kasbah.)
And yes! The Kasbah had a “host”—a real host by the name of David “Love”—a Puerto Rican brotha who was “Rico Sauvé” fo’ real doe! He greeted patrons at the door, shook hands, hugged folk and walked the floor speaking to people and tending to their needs. That’s hosting! (Many of these new-jack niggas who call themselves “hosts” have the personality of a rock! They never speak, but rather act as though it’s about them, because their name is on a flyer!) David Love was a real host!
(David "Love"--The Kasbah host, a great guy!)
The clientele of The Kasbah was top-notch! A minefield of mamis—a bevy of bootiliciousness and a smorgasbord of sultriness.
There was no need to advertise! No need for a janky promoter! No need to have a celebrity DJ! No need for some gimmicky name-for-the-night and host to get people in the doors! I’m talking 8-friggin’ years of nonstop partying every weekend! And! The Kasbah hosted a monthly old-school series were they brought in bands like The Dramatics, Bloodstone and Freddie Jackson! Can you dig that?
But then something happened.
Hip-hop laid siege on The Kasbah and basically drove the regulars away. The janky promoter came in and took control and the house DJ was ousted for the ghetto-star DJ. My free pass/no cover charge were voided out and the new hip-hop regime looked at me like I was an interloper! (Not only had I been going to the Kasbah religiously for 8-years, but I was a hip-hop head—a nationally and internationally known hip-hop writer whose work has been in such publications as Daveyd.com, Allhiphop.com, Straight Stuntin Magazine, Spin Magazine, LA Times, etc., etc., etc.! Here they come, “$10.00 please!”)
(Yeah, I was in Spin Magazine! Showin' out @ Kasbah)
A grave had been dug and all of those regulars and middle-age folk who still loved to get their party on were summarily thrown in it and buried alive—all for the sake of the new generation of the hip-hop party. Those were the years that The Kasbah ebbed & flowed. Those were the lean years. We that were buried alive clawed our way out of our graves and started slumming frequenting “holes in the wall” clubs like Denver’s Mr. A’s, Pierre’s, Scoreboard, The Ready Room and BJ’s.
The saying is, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it!” Someone thought that the hip-hop crowd was the way to go, thus ending a solid 8-year run for The Kasbah. For a regular like me, it was heart-breaking to have to take my money and party elsewhere.
I mean, like, The Kasbah was home! How many club owners do you know downtown where the white folks party? Do the owners of these clubs even come out to meet & greet the people they’re robbing (through high-priced cover charges and exorbitant drink prices?)
I know Shelton Bouknight, the owner of The Kasbah. He is a good man who has always greeted me with love and respect. He ingratiates himself with the people who come to his club. He is not standoffish. He parties with customers and makes sure that the ladies have a great time. Mr. Bouknight is a social butterfly—someone who doubles as owner and host.
(Shelton Bouknight, owner of The Kasbah. And no! This is not Uncle Charlie Wilson. LOL!)
Like the Phoenix, which rises from the ashes of Hades—The Kasbah went through some tough times, but now is on the rise. The club was recently featured on Spike TV’s “Bar Rescue” where major renovations were undertaken and a facelift has given the club new life. New décor. New sound system. New light show. New attitude. Friday night is old school night with DJ EJ on the wheels of steel puttin’ in much work! Shades of its former self are starting to show under DJ EJ’s watch. He is channeling the ghost of the Incomparable One, Doc McClain insanely! (A Denver DJ Legend!)
Saturday is for the hip-hop crowd and since I’m a hip-hop head till the def, you’ll prolly see my old ass in there, but I’m not merely the “Old man in the club,” (for those of you who think that's a bad thingy!) but rather a hip-hop writer who insists on keeping his finger on the pulse of what’s happening now.
In the new age of hip-hop, promoters seem not to care that PEOPLE make clubs! Clubs don’t make people! If you’re a host, then host! Be seen! Get on the mic! Introduce yourself! Walk the floor! Shake some hands! Know when you have hip-hop royalty (on any level I'm talkin' 'bout me mudda-sucka!) in your midst! All this high-fahlootin’ bottle/table service and V.I.P. areas are just hip-hop’s way of saying, “I’m better than you! Look at me!” You are a V.I.P. because…? I’ve been in V.I.P. with the best hip-hop has to offer! It ain’t all that!
I’ve partied all over the country, but The Kasbah holds a special place in my heart and memory. Some of the bestest partying evaaar! If you’re ever in my city, come party with us!
Khalil Amani is a blogger for AllHipHop. He also writes for DJ Kay Slay’s Originators Magazine & Straight Stuntin Magazine. Amani also writes for Hoodgrown, Maybach and Sext Magazines. He is the author of six books, including the ground-breaking book, “Hip-Hop Homophobes…” iuniverse.com 07). Amani is gay hip-hop’s self-proclaimed straight advocate. Visit The Coonerific One at http://www.khalilamani.ning.com Follow on Facebook/Twitter @khalilamani. Youtube @ yahweh 12 Khalilamani@yahoo.com