By Laura Smith
News & Record/ Go Triad
The poor economy has only made Atlanta businessman Imari Havard’s company grow stronger, and it’s all thanks to the help of Hungry Hungry Hippos, Connect Four and Twister.
PlayDate, the brainchild of Havard and his two business partners, Ryan Hill and Ronald Gaither, has visited 26 cities in the U.S. and will come to Greensboro this Saturday. This is the second time the event has come to Greensboro; the first was in July. It’s also been to Charlotte, Winston-Salem and Raleigh.
PlayDate is an event for adults 21 and older. Instead of techno music and dancing, you’ll find a group of 30-somethings tangled up in Twister or a group of friends huddled around a game of Jenga. The cost? $10.
“We want people to realize that you don’t have to spend a lot of money to go out and have a good time,” Havard said.
And with thousands of people showing up at one event, along with food, drinks and music, there’s no lacking of fun.
“It’s proven to be one of those businesses that’s recession proof,” Hill said. “It’s difficult to find something that has high value in terms of entertainment but at a cheaper cost.”
The event began in Atlanta in 2005 when Havard, who was working for a small marketing company at the time, was looking for an alternate way to have fun besides going to clubs. So, Havard and his wife held a get together with about 80 friends at a billiards room in Atlanta with board games and cocktails. The event was so successful, numbers grew by the hundreds and by 2007, Havard, Hill and Gaither created its parent company, Timeless Entertainment Concepts (TEC).
“It’s an awesome concept,” said Latrina Harris with PlayDate affiliate, Unique Affairs, which is helping organize the event in Greensboro, as well as in several other Southeastern cities. “They saw a need to redefine what we see in nightlife with the parties that really mirrored the club scene. A lot of people have grown tired of that.”
PlayDate allows adults to be kids again by offering open tables with games, including Operation, Jenga, Hungry Hungry Hippos, Sorry! and others.
“Some don’t do the club atmosphere, so it can be hard to meet people,” Harris said. “But when you pass a game of Connect 4, you might sit down and ask to play; it gives you an excuse to meet one another.”
At 11 p.m., PlayDate takes guests “back to the playground,” Harris said. Participants can immerse themselves in signature games of Red Light/Green Light, Red Rover, musical chairs, limbo and even karaoke.
The last PlayDate in Charlotte brought in about 1,000 people, and the one in Raleigh brought in about 600.
“We sell it as an economy friendly event.” Harris said. “We’re in hard times but we want to provide an opportunity to get out and have a good time and get your mind off things.”
It doesn’t hurt that the desire to be entertained will never go away, either.
“It’s about just being as silly as possible,” Hill said. “For one night, you can come out and forget all of your adult problems and pretend you’re a kid again.”