First black-owned event venue in downtown Kalamazoo opens its doors
KALAMAZOO, MI — A dance studio by day, an entertainment space by night. That’s what LuXury Escapes, LLC. is providing with downtown Kalamazoo’s newest business.
The first Black-owned entertainment venue in downtown Kalamazoo, The Xperience is opening its doors at 143 Farmers Alley on Friday, April 1.
The venue, located in the Kalamazoo City Centre, will also serve as the home to Guess Who’s Dancing Fitness, with classes such as Twerk Werk, Gospel Dance Fitness and Trap Yoga set to begin April 12. All of the classes are focused on boosting self confidence for women.
Owner Kim Guess told MLive she was excited about the opportunity to offer something new to the community, and that while there have been other Black-owned entertainment venues in the city of Kalamazoo, she’s thrilled to open the first in downtown with partners Symphony Ollie and Bryan Sims.
“The biggest thing I want to do is I want to diversify downtown,” said Guess, 42. “I don’t feel there is a correct representation of the Kalamazoo community downtown at all and as a person of color growing up here, being from the north side of Kalamazoo, I wanted to help change that.”
Guess said since The Union closed downtown there have not been regular diverse entertainment offerings available to members of the African American community in downtown Kalamazoo.
“The only other Black-owned businesses downtown are C’s Perfect Ties and Exquisite Hair Designs and those don’t offer places to gather,” she said. “When this space came up, I said we don’t have a place for us to go, for middle-aged, middle-class people to go and have a good time.”
The Xperience will host private social events, as well as corporate events and other gatherings such as wedding receptions and repasses. The public is invited to come see the 3,200-square-foot space at an open house, scheduled from 3-8 p.m. on Sunday, April 3.
The space features a beautiful, transformative entry way, vinyl wood flooring throughout, along with high industrial black ceilings, iron chandeliers, floor to ceiling windows and bright light gray walls. The entire venue, formerly occupied by the Kalamazoo Department of Public Safety, was remodeled top to bottom by Guess and her partners, creating what they feel is a true “LuXury escape.”
When Guess initially came across the site, she had been on a journey to simply find somewhere to host her dance classes. Immediately, after walking through the doors, she knew not only was this the space for that, but given its size, they could do so much more with it. And an idea was born.
With existing partnerships with numerous area business owners already, LuXury Escapes is able to offer clients everything from decorating services to catering to many of Kalamazoo’s well-known DJs. The Xperience also features a fully-stocked bar that can be included in any package as well as a sound system.
Guess, who just launched a nonprofit, BU, which stands for “Beautifully Unique,” also plans to open up office space for the nonprofit in the space adjacent to The Xperience in the coming months. She and her team will begin moving into the space on May 1, she said.
The nonprofit’s focus is centered on filling gaps to provide guidance and assistance to teens who need it, offering support and boosting self-confidence. The nonprofit will also work with Black Wall Street Kalamazoo and Sisters in Business to help other fledgling small business owners in the Black community overcome obstacles and navigate hurdles as they enter business.
For more information on the event space, visit thexperiencekzoo.com. For more information regarding dance classes, visit GuessWhosDancingFitness.com.
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