The night before the 2nd Annual BET AWARDS in Hollywood saw droves of mostly black crowds making bottle-neck lines at the entrances to high-profile spots such as The Sunset Room, The Factory, BarFly, Las Palmas, El Rey Theater and others. During the day at the new Renaissance Hotel adjacent to the Kodak Theater, which is the host hotel to the awards, the casually dressed celebrities, press, production staff members and ticket buyers for the awards could be seen skipping around the sectioned-off area of the hotel’s west wing. Hollywood Boulevard was buzzing and by the time it hit 8pm, the booming Cadillac Escalades and other screen-TV carrying vehicles commanded the streets by cruising in front of the many venues that celebrated the build up to the Awards.
Def Soul, a part of Def Jam Records celebrated at the El Rey Theater by showcasing singer Kelly Price, and as early as 9pm the corner was lined with folks trying to shout out to their associates on the inside of the barriers to get them past the drama. Deep inside the El Rey’s walls, the thick crowd swarmed the bars and bobbed their heads to the mixture of East Coast hip hop and iced-out R&B remixes before Kelly Price performed.
Sweeping across town to West Hollywood, the next spot to supposedly be at was The Factory, celebrating with host Ja Rule with in-the-house appearances by Ashanti, Musiq and promising a performance by Slum Village. Outside was a disaster, as the security at the door handling the list seemed to concentrate more on adjusting their dark shades and ‘Men-in-Black’ suits, than getting the over-zealous crowd in a proper line to get inside in a timely fashion. Even though this venue boasted of the largest space amongst the others last night, the mishandling of this event saw the majority of people outside its doors, while the handful of people inside impatiently waited. Eventually, they would be the ones exiting and confirming that inside was emptier than ever. What seemed like the night’s strongest anticipated event, ended up a bust, needless to say. The action just around the corner at ‘Snatch’, a local Monday nightspot, actually magnetized this frustrated crowd slowly leaving the lines at The Factory scanty, as the Fire Marshall made their way through now dwindling chaos and insanity.
Heading up a little north now to BarFly, the spot where N.E.R.D. were celebrating their party, the atmosphere was less crazy. With no lines to get past, your only worry would have been not seeing your name on the private guest list. When about fifteen to twenty Ruff Ryder bikers rolled up and parked their pieces of engine-art on the side walk, all dressed in signature style Ruff Ryder motorcycle gear, the atmosphere began to get a little more hectic with cars suddenly cruising by with many deciding to pull up and check out the scene. Other pre-party action to the Awards went down at Las Palmas where Usher threw his party; Rockstar (formerly known as Garden of Eden) where LL Cool J was having ‘cars drive by in their booming system’; and Sunset Room where Free & A.J. from BET’s 106th & Park fame probably put the icing on the cake for the night. But tonight for the Awards, the one spot where all the action would take place is the Kodak Theater, and there isn’t a guest list.