The Shelby County Health Department is investigating what appears to have been a large party Saturday night, attended by hundreds of people, in a large party tent on Winchester Road.
According to pictures of the All Black Affair on social media, many were not masked or social distancing.
The annual party was held at 7144 Winchester at In Love Memphis, a club the Health Department cited Oct. 10 for COVID-19 violations. It was not shut down.
The name refers to the all-black dress code.
“With COVID-19 cases rising exponentially in Shelby County, it’s extremely unfortunate that some people chose to endanger themselves and others by attending large gatherings without wearing a mask. This was a violation of the Health Department’s current health directive,” said Ursula Madden, spokeswoman for the City of Memphis.
“As we have for several months now and in addition to the Shelby County Sheriff, the City of Memphis stands ready to help the Shelby County Health Department with enforcement of their health directive as necessary and as needed.”
The party is under investigation, according to Lee Harris, Shelby County mayor. According to media reports he saw, it appeared to be a “huge social gathering.”
The event took place in a large tent next to the club. Guests could choose to be in the “bubble,” the club or a patio attached to the club, according to Darryl Sanford, a musician who performed from 5:30 to 7 p.m. with the band Love Theory.
“There was not that big of a crowd when we were there,” Sanford said. “Everyone was social distancing. The DJ was telling people they had to have their masks on.
“I don’t know what happened after we left,” Sanford said.
The Bubble was large enough that it was easy for the 100 or so people there when he was performing to social distance, he said.
The annual event is sponsored by CGI Entertainment, a business owned by Curtis Givens.
Givens did not respond to phone calls to his business or to requests to speak that were sent to his Facebook account.
He started out as a party promoter in high school and used his skills to start a nightclub business.
He and his brother, Corliss Givens, own and operate In Love, the club in Hickory Hill.
According to ticket sales site on Eventbrite, tickets ranged from $20 to $2,000.
Health Department officials did not respond to numerous requests for interviews Monday.
Health authorities have jurisdiction to close down businesses that do not comply with restrictions outlined in the health directives.
“There needs to be a way that people who do this are fined, are held financially responsible for putting the population at risk,” said Dr. Jeff Warren, a COVID-19 task force member and City Council member who learned about the party from a doctor who drove by and saw hundreds of vehicles in the parking lot Saturday night.
After the event, Givens posted a video on Instagram with testimonials of two Washington, D.C., residents who had attended the bubble party.
The next day, Givens posted notice of a free admission, “pop-up” day party at the “bubble.”
Several local cosmetologists and nail salon owners asked clients who had attended the All Black Affair (or other large events) to reschedule or cancel their appointments.
Dr. Manoj Jain heard about the party late Saturday when city officials called him.
“Watching the video, it was alarming; it was disappointing that even with all of the messaging we are doing, people are not adhering to this,” he said.
From what he could see in videos shared with him, the patrons were young adults, ages 25-34.
“What we know it that very age group is having the highest rates of COVID infection. They make up 6% of the population but make up 21% of the cases,” Jain said.
“It is alarming that people still are not adhering to the most basic recommendations,” he said. “We really just have to go through a few more months of this. The end is in sight.
“Our hospitals are inundated with young and old patients. Our ICUs are inundated as well. One in every three beds in ICU has a COVID patient. One in every four regular hospital beds is a COVID patient. That number keeps increasing.”
Moderna released final data on the clinical trial of its COVID-19 vaccine early Monday, showing it was 94.1% effective against the virus, including severe cases. It planned to seek immediate approval from the FDA for emergency use. Pfizer, which had similar clinical results, began shipping its vaccine late last week.
The Givenses have operated several nightclubs in the city, including Level II, the former Premier Club. They also operated Silver Spoon, which was a bar, restaurant and nightclub.
The Daily Memphian’s Bill Dries and Elle Perry contributed to this story.