Soul & Sangria makes space for young Black professionals
This weekend, the soulful notes of local R&B artists will waft from the Artists for Humanity EpiCenter in South Boston. It’s the 10th edition of Soul & Sangria, the signature annual event by Black-owned events company The Social Butterflies Events, and they’re pulling out all the stops.
The Social Butterflies, run by Valerie Francois and Paige Pasley, launched Soul & Sangria as a way to bring young professionals in the Black community together, and to show off their event planning skills. Starting at 3 p.m. on Sunday, Soul & Sangria provides five hours of live R&B music and DJ sets from artists like The Modular Troupe, Toki Wright, and Big Tunez the DJ, creating a setting where guests can socialize in an engaging but relaxed environment.
After spending their early 20s working in nightclub settings, Francois and Pasley were ready for a different kind of social experience. “We were always looking for things that were after work, so you could be in bed by 10,” says Francois. The target demographic for the event is professional millennials, and the attendees have been 90% Black.
“There’s not a lot of venues that you can walk into and just hear R&B music, or just hear hip-hop music and see our peers,” says Pasley. “We don’t have a lot of spaces where we can just go.”
Since launching their business in 2018, Pasley and Francois have grown The Social Butterflies Events from a long-harbored dream into a flourishing business. They’ve run events such as a 10th anniversary party and fundraiser for Urbanity Dance and contributed to the Embrace Boston gala and the unveiling ceremony for the Boston Common sculpture in support of The Castle Group. This year alone they’ve flown out to Dallas to coordinate a birthday party and to Jamaica to run a wedding.
This year, for the first time, partial proceeds from Soul & Sangria will go towards the Berklee City Music program. Pasley’s eighth-grade cousin is in the Berklee program, and at a recent concert, the talent in the program blew Pasley and Francois away, they say. Given Soul & Sangria’s focus on music, it was a natural fit.
Though music is a key piece of the event, it’s not the only element. Guests can sample drinks from a fully stocked bar (including, of course, sangria) and enjoy food from local Black-owned businesses, including Everybody Gotta Eat, Rock City Pizza and others.
Pasley and Francois are intentional about the vendors they partner with, and that care will be on full display at Soul & Sangria.
“As we’ve grown, it has become more about economy and visibility for other small, Black-owned businesses like ourselves,” says Pasley. “It also serves as our calling card.”
The Soul & Sangria event is Sunday, Sept. 10 from 3-8 p.m. at Artists for Humanity in South Boston.