Promoter Stacey “Flygirrl” Wilson’s parties are Philadelphia legendary. So when event planners for the new Cherry Street Pier were looking for someone to draw a crowd to their first-ever New Year’s Eve bash, they didn’t have to look any farther than the pier’s own artist studios, where the multitalented Flygirrl exercises her other talents in graphic design, painting, jewelry-making, and teaching art.
Wilson rose through the ranks working for club owners-restaurateurs the Bynum brothers, then partnered with Questlove and Yameen Allworld on Tastytreats, a weekly old-school party that ran from 2001 to 2014 — a lifetime when it comes to club events.
Jazzy Jeff, Biz Markie, Gang Starr, and Prince have all been privy to her party-making magic. And for a $50 ticket, a regular person can add his or her name to that list while ringing in 2019 to music curated by Flygirrl and spun by DJs Lil’ Dave and Lean Wit It.
Here, she recalls where she got her start and what makes a NYE party pop — including hers.
Back in 2001, Questlove, Yameen Allworld, and I created a party called Tastytreats. I had been working for a company that made “jawn” T-shirts. We all had “jawn” names, and mine was “Flyjawn.” I wanted to separate my name from the “jawn” brand, so I kept the “fly” and added the “girrl.”
I used two r’s, because when you google “flygirl,” you get all kinds of results, like cheerleading camps.
I’m originally from Levittown and spent a lot of time in Philly as a teenager. It was inevitable that I would end up in the city right out of high school. I went to a small college called Hussian, which only had two majors: illustration or design. I went for graphic design, but in three years, I became an illustrator.
I worked my way through college working for the Bynums. I started at Zanzibar Blue [their Center City jazz club], as server, and moved up to manager. Then they moved me to Brave New World [a dance club], where I was the manager. That’s where I learned about marketing and promoting, as well as booking musicians.
At the same time I was working Zanzibar Blue, I was also the graphic designer to a lot of promoters at the time; Carl Dash, John Barber, and the Bynum brothers were my clients. I was always at events. I was building a business without knowing I was building a business.
I was working for another promotions firm, KBA, when I met Questlove, and we decided to throw Tastytreats. It started at Filo’s, this tiny rowhome basement right off Second and Pine. When I tell you you could fit nobody in there, but we would somehow cram in 400 people throughout the night.
Our friend Oronde [Gibson], he was a manager at Fluid at the time, he came over and couldn’t get through. He was like, ‘Oh, my god. Do you want to move this?’
That’s how we made the move over to Fluid in 2002. We did the party for so long, we had so many waves of regulars, that people who met there got married and had babies. We had Q-Tip and Jazzy Jeff, Mike Nyce and Biz Markie, and Gang Starr before Guru passed.
Part of our success was just that we all just really loved doing it. It wasn’t like we were there to make money. We just loved the party. The party was authentic. It was built around an old-school vibe, not adhering to the Top 40. Everyone was welcome.
Absolutely. It’s for people who don’t necessarily want to be in the nightclubs but want to have the experience. The $50 ticket comes with two free drinks, so you’re really only paying $35.
Musicwise, we’ll have a little bit of everything there: some old-school, classic, reggae, some funk, a little pop — all good stuff.
There are going be fire pits, photo booths, live art-making, public art. We’ll have champagne.
There will be a beautiful, beautiful view of the fireworks. We’re limiting ticket sales to 500 guests so that everybody will be able to see those fireworks [at midnight].
Music and talent are first and foremost. The venue — the atmosphere — is really important to me, too. That means the sound system, the lighting, and the staff.
Anything Tribe Called Quest will always bring me to the dance floor. Any classics: “Before I Let Go,” any ’80s dance classics. People think I’m a really big hip-hop head, but I would consider myself more of a house head.
I’m a raver from the ’90s. So house music will be my always and forever.