When many think of the Memphis party scene, the name Curtis Givens comes to mind. That’s because for more than 20 years, Givens has been an entertainment mogul locally and on a national level.
From running some of Memphis’ premier nightclubs and hosting lavish events to his latest venture with his little league basketball team, Givens’ imprint on Memphis culture is deep and ongoing.
Givens’ credits his father, Curtis Sr., for helping develop his work ethic. Even at a young age, Givens worked alongside his dad at his plumbing business.
“I was always an entrepreneur in my heart,” Givens said. “My father was a businessman, and by the time I was in the third grade and my teachers asked me what I wanted to be when I grow up, I told them I wanted to be just that.
“I wanted to be like my father.”
Givens said that by working with his dad, he mastered plumbing by the age of 10.
“By the time I was 14, I was also able to thread gas pipes in homes as well,” he added. “Just working with my father instilled my drive for me to start doing things for myself.”
While still in middle school, Givens became a barber and ran a lawn care service. He opened his first beeper shop (remember beepers?) while he was still in high school. But like any teenager, he wanted to show up to the prom in style.
“By the time I was 18, I purchased a brand new white Ford Ranger truck that I wanted customized for prom,” he said. “At the time, it would have cost me $5,500 to get the work done.
“So I threw my first party on March 22, 1996, at the Aristocrat downtown,” he smiled.
More than 1,300 people showed up. And the rest was history.
Since that fateful day, Givens has been a staple of the Memphis party scene. He later established CGI Entertainment and became owner to several legendary nightclubs including Level II and Silver Spoon.
He also developed celebrity-style events such as “Can I Live Weekend” and the upcoming All Black Affair, now in its 16th year.
“It’s a huge blessing,” Givens said. “I love when people are having fun at my events. It’s truly a rewarding feeling.
“When I started the All Black Affair back in December 2002, I constantly saw a change in how it grew,” he added. “We started at Gibson’s Guitar center downtown then it spread like wildfire from there.”
This year’s All Black Affair is set for Friday, Nov. 23 at the Esplanade in Cordova. There will be live performances, as well as the main party room. But he’s not giving away all the secrets. “There’s plenty more,” he smiled, “but, of course, you have to be there to witness it yourself.”
As far as the evolution of Curtis Givens the man, he said he’s focusing on new goals, but connecting with family is the main priority.
“I’m just continuing to let God lead the way,” Givens said. “I could get up every day and chase a dollar, but nowadays I don’t do that. Some days I don’t do anything at all.
“And on those days I can relax and be myself,” he continued, “because the joy and happiness I’ve found with my wife and family makes everything worthwhile.”