Cars lined the street as couples and a few singles flowed into Amen Ra’s Bookshop for a night of love and spoken word on Valentine’s Day.
The low-lit room was filled with African art displayed on the wall and tables draped in red and white cloth.
ValenRhyme, hosted by Black on Black Rhyme, is dedicated to the art of love and the poets who use words to reveal the emotions behind it.
Keith Rodgers, CEO and founder of Black on Black Rhyme, said it started eight years ago with the mission to provide good food and entertainment at an affordable price to people on Valentine’s Day.
“In most restaurants you have to make a reservation and the food is expensive. Here we want the patrons to really enjoy themselves, the food and each other,” Rodgers said. “We like to incorporate themes that are based on something black: black love, black erotica, black people.”
The sold out audience was filled with love birds of all ages. Couples sat close together at candle lit tables as the poets and singers took the mic one by one.
The acoustic sounds of the guitar had the audience swaying back forth, while the lust-filled lines of the erotic poems had couples giving each other sensual looks and playful kisses.
Singers serenaded the audience with melodies of love and affection that brought the crowd to its feet in applause.
Oluwatito “Trooth” Balewa, member of Black on Black Rhyme, said he enjoyed the turnout and the interaction with the crowd.
“I am using my voice to bring change and light to world in all aspects of life, including love,” Balewa said.
Balewa performed original pieces on loving some one for them versus the way they look and black erotica, using his words to deeply describe his feelings of knowing when you have found your soul mate.
The biggest act of love at was the tribute to Amen Ra’s Owner Dana Dennard’s birthday.
“Dr. Dana Dennard is the truest representation and symbol of what it means to express to selfless love,” said Balewa.
Dennard shed tears as the poets paid tribute to his outstanding character.
Tiffany Graham, 22, a senior theatre student from Tampa, came to the event with a friend, and said she enjoyed the event.
The performances and various couple throughout the crowd gave her hope that she might find love, she said.
“I am not typically big on the whole Valentine’s Day thing,” Graham said as she explained that this event actually gave her hope that one day she might find true love.
“Seeing all the people here tonight with their significant others made me realize that even single I have something to look forward to with love,” said Graham.