The abrupt death of Prince two years ago had fans of all ages in deep mourning. But now might be the time to break out the raspberry beret and go crazy, to reference two of the pop icon’s most familiar songs. The Artisan of Flat Rock is testing the outer orbits of the singer/guitarist’s legacy, hosting a three-day celebration that begins with a showing of the cult-classic film Purple Rain, followed by back-to-back dance parties.
The club will sell purple drinks and radiate purple lighting. Dancers are asked to don purple for the event. And a cardboard-cutout version of Prince will stand ready to pose for photos.
“We are such a fan of the arts, and, obviously, Prince isn’t just one of the most genius musicians of all time … he appeals to such a wide variety and generations of people, so we wanted to [acknowledge that],” says owner Mike Elis.
Prince died of an accidental drug overdose on April 21, 2016, at his home in Paisley Park, located in Chanhassen, Minnesota. The artist was one of the ’80s biggest superstars: androgynously sexy and elaborately stylish, he mixed funk, rock, soul, and R&B to form pop classics such as “When Doves Cry,” “U Got the Look,” and “1999.” Prince also composed songs for other top acts, including “Manic Monday” for the Bangles and “Nothing Compares 2 U,” which became Irish iconoclast Sinéad O’Connor’s biggest mainstream hit.
But Artisan of Flat Rock is small. The club only holds 149 people, per the fire marshal, and more than 470 fans have marked themselves “interested” in the two dance parties on the event’s Facebook page. Therefore, Elis will offer a $5 express pass (think: Disney’s fast pass) that allows dancers early entry and a chance to go to the front of the line after the party begins.
Prince’s music isn’t just known to adults who grew up watching The Breakfast Club and wearing jelly bracelets. His songs have transcended generations, confirms Chris Hoffman, lead singer of the Rewind House Band of Asheville classic-rock radio station Rewind 100.3. But Hoffman is one of the originals: he discovered Prince in 1983 and was intrigued by the innuendo in the lyrics. His arm now bears a tattoo of the symbol that Prince was associated with throughout most of his career, a merging of the ancient signs for man and woman.
“He has songs that pick you up, such as ‘Baby I’m a Star,’ or, if you’re feeling down, ‘Purple Rain,’” Hoffman notes. “I saw him in concert four times, and even people who don’t like his music have got to admit he’s an amazing entertainer and live performer. He’s the reason I became a singer.”
The Artisan of Flat Rock will screen Purple Rain on Thursday, April 19, at 8pm. The Remembering Prince Dance Party happens Friday, April 20 and Saturday, April 21, at 7:30pm both nights. Check the club’s website or Facebook page for membership/admission details. 5 Highland Park Road in East Flat Rock. For more info, see flatrockartisan.com or call 828-676-6718.