All things evolve over time. For 11 years, BravoBravo! has been the premiere social event of the summer, attracting thousands of the metro area’s young, sexy professionals and arts supporters, raising nearly a million dollars since its inception for the Detroit Opera House and Michigan Opera Theatre.
In that time, the buzz caught on. Now it seems that every private group and public organization tries to follow the same successful formula BravoBravo! put into place so many years ago: let’s get a bunch of restaurants and some bands and voila!, instant hot party. True, for a time, but the formula has gotten a bit stale with so many others copying it, and BravoBravo! has a reputation to uphold, after all.
This year ushered in a whole new era for BravoBravo! The event has indeed evolved, and the 2010 fête was certainly a departure from previous bashes. The loose “fashion” theme was a bit incohesive in concept—after all, isn’t this event always about being fashionable?—but seeing some of Detroit’s top designers standing with their models in the red carpet entryway was a nice introduction to the theme.
From there the theme became less about “fashion” and more about vibe: new this year, individual rooms within the Opera House were all done up in their own themes and sponsored by different metro Detroit entities. The food, drink and music within each room was carefully paired with the room’s theme, and providing the artistic work in each room were our local designers (from such recognizable names as Wound Menswear, Femilia Couture, and Joe Faris) as well as work from local artists such as Camilo Pardo and Shawn Lee.
The “Miami Room,” sponsored by Ambassador Magazine, had Bacardi mojitos, food from Vicente’s Cuban Cuisine, a DJ spinning salsa and timba music, paper palm trees and bongos. The “New York Room,” sponsored by Motor City Casino, featured Technicolor cupcakes and a wild Studio 54 theme complete with fuzzy white couches and disco balls. The “Tokyo Room,” a crowd favorite, was sponsored by the Metro Times and featured auto-tune karaoke in between sets from Detroit’s own prog-fuzz-indie rockers Silverghost. Beverages were from TY KU and food from Birmingham’s ultra-trendy new Asian-fusion spot 7 Restaurant & Ultra Lounge. These room themes for BravoBravo 2010: Destination Fashion were destinations unto themselves, and signify a whole new direction for this event. The “London Room” (sponsored by 944 Magazine) even featured charity gaming tables, a first for BravoBravo (paired well with Gentleman Jack and Woodford Reserve and roasted tenderloin from the Capital Grille—how perfectly proper!).
Another new element to this year that we haven’t really seen before is the emphasis on local musicians and artists. As an event designed to promote and support the arts, there has previously been a noticeable lack of local artists (particularly in the musicians). This year it was ALL about Detroit: from the designers to the photography on display to the bands who played. Detroit’s hottest band of the moment Will Sessions Funk Big Band with Monica Blaire headlined the main stage with a prime 9:30-11:00pm spot. Other noteworthy local acts included Detroit techno godfather Kevin Saunderson and Paxahau residents John Johr and Chuck Flask playing outside in the extended “Detroit Room,” sponsored by Metromix and Real Detroit Weekly and featuring food from Detroit favorites Slows Bar-BQ, Detroit Beer Company, Jacoby’s German Biergarten, Majestic Café, and Sanders with Hard Luck Liquor serving drinks (pun intended?).
With all of this new focus on different themes and promoting local artists, the one thing that made BravoBravo! in the past became almost entirely deemphasized: the food. Where before it was the main focus of the event, it kind of took a backseat this year—nowhere on the website or in promotional print was there an easily accessible list of participating restaurants, there seemed to be far fewer than in previous years (somewhere around 40 compared to 65+ in previous years, if memory serves), and in turn it seemed a lot of places sort of phoned it in, so to speak. While it is certainly a difficult task to balance all of these different (and many new) elements, I’d like to see the food once again become part of the focus and not get so downplayed in favor of the fashion—we’re not ALL starving models here, after all. Plus, McDonald’s? Really??? Surely Detroit can do better than that.
But that aside, BravoBravo! has finally become a true celebration of Detroit, and after over a decade still continues to be the hottest destination of the year.
For pictures from this year’s event, check out Metromix’s gallery and Picture This City’s gallery.