By DeoVonte “Deo” Means
The later part of summer 2014 brought about exciting news for Chicago. Spring was greeted with rumors and mumblings among the socials that Chicago’s social scene had become stagnant with very limited options for the “grown & sexy” of the community. Many of our traditional events were either slowly abandoned by the respected hosts or began to resemble a far Southside basement party complete with red solo cups and a hood mentality. An announcement was made that fall 2014 would welcome a refreshing balm to the social scene and the fella’s were formed under the title “Oui.” The stakeholders in this new venture –known on the scene as TJaye, Eric Donte and Keith– are all well-known patrons of our community and intrigued us with the mindset behind their thought process. Oui, O – U – I, pronounced “we” is a French word meaning yes or “in agreement with.” The way the word is pronounced and sounds is perfection as it helps culminate a version of the word that they would like to play upon. We at The Flyy-Life immediately reached out to the team to gain more knowledge and an in-depth perspective before giving our coveted support. See, Chicago is a place where many “feel” as if they’re “called,” especially if there is a prospect for profit; yet most lack the finesse, thorghlness and due-diligence to maintain the brand and tend to fizzle out after you scratch the surface. Almost at once, we were assured the fella’s of Oui are not only impressive, but perhaps the next big thing coming out of Chicago.
In a statement to our Editor, the fellas confidently informed us “Oui is a social entity that promotes unity, positivity and good ole fashioned fun. We will bring sexy, sophisticated, classy and distinctive events to a diverse audience of progressive socialites. It’s not the lights, it’s not the liquor, it’s not the sound; it’s the people….It’s all about people! The sexy people! The people with class! The people who like to dance and have a good time! Yes, we’re in this together- for us and by us. YES, we will bring you some of the hottest events around as well as celebrate the diversity in the LGBTQ community.”
Anticipation began to pulsate through the veins of the socials with an orgasmic fervor. As this climatic experience began to become more visible on the horizon, we knew it was time to make our move. We connected with the team of Oui and here is what they had to say……
FL- Greetings Gentlemen. As three beings merging together as a triune, please describe yourselves individually.
TJaye: The Serpent
Snakes are guardians. Quiet, but will bite. Their venom either kills or cures. No in between.
Eric: The Sass
Lively. Bold. Full of Spirit; Chic, Stylish and Jaunty.
Keith: The Boss
Admirable leader who is always in control as well as loved and respected by all. Refined and classic in style with an impeccable taste for quality and excellence in all areas of life.
FL- Briefly, please describe the mindset behind this refreshing new entity?
Oui- Oui is a social entity that promotes unity, positivity and good ole fashioned fun. We will bring sexy, sophisticated, classy and distinctive events to a diverse audience of progressive socialites. It’s not the lights, it’s not the liquor, it’s not the sound, it’s the people….It’s all about people! The sexy people! The people with class! The people who like to dance and have a good time! Oui, O – U – I, pronounced “we” is a French word meaning yes or “in agreement with.” The way the word is pronounced and sounds is perfection as it helps us culminate a version of the word that we would like to play upon. Yes, we’re in this together- for us and by us. YES, WE will bring you some of the hottest events around as well as celebrate the diversity in the LGBTQ.
FL- As a brand, what unique concepts do you wish to bring to Chicago’s social scene and what distinguishes you from the rest?
Oui- The concept is birthed from the idea that there is great music being played by many of the popular DJ’s at a lot parties and that music is not being taken full advantage of with the dance. Oui wishes to bring the party back into going to a party. We understand that part of going out to a club in gay culture is the social aspect of preying on the hot guys, ensuring that our fashions are impeccable and even standing around and tearing one another down. These are concepts that we probably won’t change but we do want to have FUN and experience a good time outside of all of the cultural nuances of the LGBTQ culture.
FL- What would you say are the five main core-competencies that represents your business-line?
Oui- Good Music (for all)
Celebrating “the dance”
FL- What was the leading factor that triggered you to proceed into this venture?
Oui- The main factor that triggered this venture was the diversity that lives amongst our inner circle. We tend to get together with gay men, gay women, transgendered, straight, mixed races, upper class, lower class, no class (lol) etc. and just have a great time. Each time we get together, we have so much fun that we often never look at our differences; however we often celebrate our diversity. This level of comradery is what we strive to embrace and share as Oui grows throughout the community.
FL- I’ve noticed that your team has taken a very alluring and flyy approach to your event, what can we as guest expect from the debut event on October 18th?
Oui- The word “Oui” in itself has a French influence, so we would like to infuse a French inspired flare into this event and the coming events. We are a grassroots operation at this point and looking to test the palates of the men of Chicago to see what they will enjoy. La Bonne Vie “the good life” will be a celebration of the good life in its true form. We believe that often people in our community get caught up into identifying the good life by their possessions in regard to fine things, labels in their closets, the cars they drive etc. That’s not the French concept of a Bonne Vie. The La Bonne Vie concept is exactly what Carl Rogers meant in his renowned quote. “The good life is a process, not a state of being. It is a direction not a destination.” Many philosophers have stated this as ‘Living Well” also. That’s what we believe. Live well, be happy and have a good life by celebrating the best you there is. The “things” will come and go, but the good life will live on when you are truly happy. This is our core philosophical mission statement.
FL- Where do you see your business-line in one year?
Oui- It is our vision, by this time next year to have a working and community focused relationship with other promoters in the Chicago land area to help augment the wonderful parties and events that currently thrive in the area. We also seek to have our mission and business model planted on a fertile foundation as a true stakeholder and trusted friend in the LGBTQ community.
FL- La Bonne Vie has quickly become one of the most anticipated social events of the season. How do you plan to transition its success into future events?
Oui- This event is intended to be a small event, so that we can once again test our audience’s desires; so we have not identified any other components for it outside of good music and a very good time with some of Chicago’s sexiest and most sophisticated socialites. We will have a few bells and whistles that we don’t want to give away at the moment. We encourage all to come out and check it out. We will continue to expound upon whatever you will experience at La Bonne Vie. Just watch us!!!
FL- Using 7 adjectives, describe your core target market.
FL- Many entertainment companies come into the game and quickly abandon their core market for the allure of quick cash. What steps are you planned to take to ensure you stay true to the brand?
Oui- The partners within Oui Entertainment do not wish to have regular parties. We wish to develop sporadic memorable events. This is the core concept of who we are individually as well as collectively. We will never abandon this concept no matter how our strategic plan evolves in coming years. At the end of the day, anything we do will promote our mission statement which will always be positive and designed with class for those who wish to have a great time.
FL- Please describe your definition of a sexy and sophisticated, successful event.
Oui- Basically Oui embodies the concept that a venue is a venue is a venue. Many of them are nicer than others and bring certain posh-like feelings than others, but at the end of the day it’s not the lights, it’s not the liquor, it’s not the sound, it’s the people….It’s all about people! We make the world go ‘round. So our thought is that with the right mix of people who have an inner strength of sexiness and sophistication about themselves, deposition will be spoken for and no one will have to say with their mouth that they are sexy or that they are sophisticated, it simply permeates into the atmosphere with grace and class.
FL- In speaking with you, you mentioned a desire to bring a cohesiveness and unity to Chicago’s LGBT community. What sparked this mindset and how do you plan to accomplish it?
Oui- As the partners of Oui, we derive from diverse backgrounds just amongst the three of us and have been witness to a void that we feel lives in the LGBTQ amongst various promoters, i.e. boys against the girls and a myriad of other disconnects. The three of us seemingly “get down” with everybody no matter who you are or “how you roll.” Simply stated “our differences make us stronger.” I personally (Keith) have sat and watched how entities work against one another to fight over, sometimes, the same consumer namely on holiday weekends or pride events. It actually becomes a little overwhelming and I often wonder the benefit of doing so. Is the dollar that important?!?! Especially when the dollar could become stronger when it comes with support which in our estimation goes a lot further. So the cohesiveness that we wish to embody is that we commit to support all that we can within our bandwidth and to not allow ourselves to become consumed with money that we abandon our mission and/or stab our fellow promoter or brother in his or her back. We want to work to help augment and uplift the community, not to inundate it with negative minutia.
FL- Briefly describe what goes into the planning of your events and the smaller details that are payed in which most might overlook?
Oui- We don’t think that any details are currently overlooked. We simply wish to take the over 15 years of corporate event planning that Keith has, the vetted experience of running a successful party promotion company skills that TJaye has and the impeccable attention to detail and community sensitivity that Eric has and meld them into a very thoughtful yet memorable event each time we host something.
FL- Oui is positioning itself to be firmly established in the annals of Chicago’s Social history. How would you like to be remembered and defined?
Oui- We simply wish to be remembered as that group that “did it and did it well.” Meaning we want people to know us for providing a vast array of events that where memorable in a positive way and that offered (at some point) fun for every member of the LGBTQ and beyond. Looking back to how times were in the early 90’s when was a cornucopia of options for a good party with good music. All had different consumers and some the same, but there was something to do to have A GOOD TIME on a regular basis and the promoters all worked together.
FL- Each of you individually are vested stakeholders within the community and has been visible within the social scene for years. How do you wish to take your experience gained as a patron and transition it into a host?
Oui- You are correct. As patrons, I think we have done a wonderful job at marching to the drum of others. The saying “when in Rome, do as the Romans.” It’s the only graceful thing to do. Now we want to e be the drummer!
We each tend to be chameleons and can “get down” with the best or worst of them, but know our boundaries and bandwidth to ensure that we do not lose ourselves in the moment to become disrespectful or insulting. If that does or has happened unbeknownst to us, we are always more than willing to apologize. This being stated, we live through the words of my grandmother, who herself was a party gal. She would always tell me and my cousins “baby when you go to an event, take your good time with you because you can’t sit around waiting for other mutha F**** for YOUR own good time.”
This has been my mantra for as long as I can remember, so when my life path crossed with Eric and TJaye and others who embody this same concept, it was perfection; hence the good life. When a person is confident within their self and can have a good time in spite of any situation; life is simply GOOD. With this in mind Oui Entertainment will now have an opportunity to facilitate the good time and invite other people to our event where the milieu will have a good time built in to the framework of each event.
FL- The social elite of Chicago can be shady. How do you plan to keep them engaged and active supporters of your events?
Oui- This in our perspective is not a barrier. We don’t see it as shade, but we see it as an opportunity to identify what “they” would like. How “they’ wish to party. What are “their” needs? We are not shady and don’t intend to ever feed into the negativity of “shade.” I think we can find a way to approach people and get feedback on how and or why they do or do not want to have a good time. If all is lost, we wish them well, but seek to move forward with people who wish to see beyond such useless hierarchical mindsets and simply enjoy life.
FL- Let’s have some fun…. Team ratchet or team sexy and why?
Oui- Hmmmm. I think we would all say all of the above (lol). Sometime ratchet is appropriate and tolerable and we can all agree that sexy is always appropriate. Looking at the urban dictionary’s definition of a ratchet person being “A diva, mostly from urban cities and ghettos, that has reason to believe he/she is every man’s eye candy. Unfortunately, they tend to be wrong.” Everything has its place, so ratchet is a part of our community so we can roll with ratchet in moderation, but find a way to control it so that it doesn’t evolve into something that becomes classless or distasteful. Consequently, neither of us identify as ratchet. I think we would all identify as sexy.
FL- What are the top five things you love most about the Chicago LGBT community?
Oui- The diverse cultures in regard to music, fashion and lifestyle.
FL– What type of diversity would you like to bring to your events?
Oui- We have hopes of seeing opportunities where the boys are partying cohesively with the girls. We wish to break the barriers and thought that a good time can only be had by going to the north side of Chicago. We wish to bring diversity by having diverse type of events, which include different types of parties and other social events so that we learn to enjoy one another in other areas and settings besides on the dance floor. We also seek to make attempts at breaking down the hierarchical barriers that people have when they go out to parties. We believe that having a good time is not about status. Often when the “social elite” are out, we notice that “they” are standing around judging and rarely smile. So we wish to offer events that will make all people, no matter what horse they rode in on, feel respected and celebrated enough to let down their barriers and have a good time. Life is too short!
FL- Any last messages for the readers?
Oui- Oui just wants readers- friends or foe- to know that we are not interested in changing anything and we love our city and what the current promoters already have provided us with in regard to nightlife. We simply want to augment the offerings and collaborate with others to expound on some friendly fun, laughter, partying and community pride & appreciation of our many differences.
FL- Where can we find you on social media?
Oui– Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Facebook: Oui Entertainment
Mailing: P.O. Box 19081, Chicago, IL 60619
We’re planning more exposure for 2015.
FL- Last question, La Bonne Vie, in one word….let us know what to expect upon walking thru the door?
Oui- PARTY!!!…That’s it, that’s all…
Oui Entertainment first event will be held October 18th and after this interview I am excited and confident that the gentlemen will not only reach their goals but also succeed in refreshing Chicago with quality entertainment and sexy people. These gentlemen are not only smart, eloquent and socially driven, but they are also sexy with a vision. I am honored to support them and thank them for allowing me the opportunity to learn more about the business-line. My staff, friends, partners and I will be in the building on the night of the 18th and we will follow up with coverage and a pictorial. Cheers Chicago for stepping up and redefining what it means to be grown, sexy and alluring in our city….Deo