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Beyoncé scrapped a Pa. show. Fans partied anyway.

Plus, Pee-wee's Big Adventure bike lives in Pa.

Welcome to PA Local, a free weekly newsletter about the great people, amazing places, and delicious food of Pennsylvania.
Your Postmaster: Tanisha Thomas

August 4, 2023
Inside this edition: Pittsburgh foodie, crime book, river raft, iconic bike, mullet masters, and a Beyoncé-themed anniversary party.
🏆 QUIZ SHOW: Test your grip on the week in news with the latest edition of The Great PA News Quiz: Trump indictment mentions, fake electors, and opioid money for cops. Then share your score. 
A Pennsylvania-centric trivia question.

Which Pennsylvania native and comedian is rumored to be Saturday Night Live's next executive producer, taking over for Lorne Michaels?

A. Rachel Dratch
B. Tina Fey
C. Kristen Wiig 
D. Amy Poehler

(Keep scrolling for the answer, but don't miss all the good stuff in between. Like what you read? Forward this email to a friend.)

Our five favorite Pennsylvania stories of the week.

» One clip worth watching: Popular TikTok food reviewer Chef Reactions (his real name's a secret) went to Pittsburgh to try out some of the spots and attractions his viewers suggested — for better and worse. 
» One book worth reading: New York Times culture editor and critic Ken Jaworowski's debut novel Small Town Sins is set in central Pennsylvania and inspired by his days at Shippensburg University, via LNP (paywall).

» One raft worth envying: For years a group of friends has thrilled itself by sailing a growing — now massive — handmade raft down the Susquehanna River, the Inquirer (paywall) reports. 

» One item worth seeing: Fans of the late Paul Reubens, who portrayed the beloved Pee-wee Herman, can view one of the prop bikes used in his big adventure at Bicycle Haven, a museum and bike shop in Pittsburgh.

» One kid worth cheering: Rory Ehrlich, 6, of Montgomery County is a finalist in a national kids mullet competition. Here's our Q&A with the Delco man behind one of Pennsylvania's best Alabama Mudflaps.

The top stories published by Spotlight PA this week.
» COVID-19 UPDATE: Your guide to finding resources on cases, vaccines, and tests

» Shapiro signs budget bill, line-item vetos school vouchers

» Homeowners desperate as Pa. mortgage relief struggles

» Legal relief for abuse survivors won’t reach ballot in 2023

» Why Pa. 'fake electors' are unlikely to be charged

» Pa. counties seek clarity on opioid windfall spending

» How counties spent Pa.'s first-ever election grants
Two people pose for a photo in extravagant silvery outfits. They are surrounded by silver, white, and black balloons and disco balls.
Nami Bey, 26 of South Side, and DNico Perry-Ellis, 21, of South Side, pose for a quick photo at the selfie station. (Via Tanisha Thomas/Spotlight PA)

“I better not see anyone sitting when you hear ‘these motherf—ers ain’t stopping me.’”

Rian-Louis quoted the lead track for Beyoncé’s Renaissance to the sold-out crowd of roughly 100 at Opya Studios in Pittsburgh last week. They had gathered to celebrate the seminal record’s one-year anniversary, and, in a way, to mourn.

The party followed the cancellation of Beyoncé’s Aug. 3 tour stop at Pittsburgh’s Acrisure Stadium due to “production logistics and scheduling issues,” a blow to ticket holders, many of whom went online to share their disbelief in no uncertain terms.

Throughout Friday’s fête at Opya Studios — a normally minimalist photo studio packed to the gills that night with silver balloons, disco balls, and other visual nods to Renaissance aesthetics — Rian-Louis stunned on the dance floor as he dipped low to the concrete, winding his hips to the booming melodies. 

Rian-Louis was a natural co-host. He easily hyped the crowd, encouraging everyone to get up and shake what their mama gave them.

He stood out with his gold and black shirt — both Steel City colors and an homage to Beyoncé’s Beyhive (pronounced beehive) brand. The tone of the night was set when he swiftly and secretly changed outfits, emerging with a shimmering silver flannel to bring out a Renaissance feel.

Renaissance was a safe space,” Rian-Louis said. “The album represented being liberated and standing firm in your Blackness and queerness.”

Event coordinator Kurstin Rae organized the party under her new business the Butterfly Social. In January, she had the idea of bringing “Club Renaissance” to Pittsburgh after seeing one of her friends attend a similar function in Los Angeles. 

Rae said she had to break out of her shy shell to bring this vision to life. 

“This was my first event,” she added. “I am grateful and thankful people were interested.”

(Rae has more events planned, including a Bratz vs. Barbies party.)

The Club Renaissance crowd moved and grooved in unison to a mix of early 2000s hip-hop and R&B and Beyoncé’s iconic hits. Pink fluorescent lights coated the room, giving a lush club feel as flashy, disco-esque outfits spilled onto the floor. Everyone understood the assignment, matching the Renaissance theme with thigh-high silver boots, bedazzled cowboy hats, and flowing white robes.

The night consoled attendees after the sudden cancellation of Beyoncé’s planned Pittsburgh tour stop. Mayor Ed Gainey was among those taken aback by the decision, publicly expressing his disappointment and vowing to seek out more information.

Nick King, among the Club Renaissance partygoers, said he didn’t believe the news when it broke during his vacation in Miami. He has been a fan of the Virgo queen’s music for 12 years. The 24-year-old was shocked. 

Club Renaissance was what he needed to brush off the disappointment, and he was in a much happier place on Friday, rocking a sequin silver jacket, chunky boots, and a black headscarf.

“All this week, this is what I was looking forward to,” he said. “It feels good to be around other people who appreciate music.”

Jordan Jeter was at work when a co-worker told him the cancellation news. He had VIP front-row tickets for a concert that was no longer happening. (Refunds were issued.)

“I was devastated. I am finally getting over it,” he said. “I would’ve been able to smell her breath.”

The 31-year-old was able to get his shining moment during a best outfit contest. Everyone circled around the eight Club Renaissance contestants. Cheers, claps, and hooting resounded as each entrant vogued, posed, and played to the crowd. 

Jeter paced around the circle. A sequined silver hat — much like this one — sat on his head along with a Renaissance World Tour tee swamping his frame. A collective gasp followed by a loud cheer erupted as Jeter took off the large T-shirt to reveal a black fringed tank top and leather shorts. A crowd-meter verdict determined him the winner. The prize? Renaissance on vinyl.

Attendees got a taste of how Acrisure Stadium might've sounded during the last hour of the party, when the DJ played the full album. The walls echoed as everyone belted out hits “Heated,” “Cuff It,” and “America Has a Problem.”

It was fitting that the lead single “Break My Soul” — a testament to persevering and blowing off steam — played as everyone headed toward the exit. They would have to wait a little longer for the real thing, but for now their souls were mended. 

Read more: Pittsburgh Downtown Partnership to host Beyoncé-inspired Night Market on Friday, Aug. 4 due to canceled concert, via WPXI

Tanisha Thomas, newsletter writer/reporter
Our favorite quote about Pennsylvania — or from a Pennsylvanian — this week.

“Everything ends, especially diy venues.” 

— A line from dance club Collison’s flyer promoting a close-out noise rave in Pittsburgh on Aug. 12

Our favorite reader-submitted photo of the week.
Mesmerizing split-gill mushrooms in New Britain's Peace Valley Park, via Becky P. Have a photo you'd like to share? Send it to us by email, use #PAGems on Instagram, or tag us @spotlightpennsylvania.
The answer to this week's Pennsylvania-centric trivia question.

B. Tina Fey

The New York Post, citing an unnamed source, reports Tina Fey, who hails from Upper Darby, is being courted to replace Lorne Michaels at SNL.

An NBC spokesperson denied the rumor to ET Canada, citing a New York Times interview from 2022 where Michaels said he has no plans to retire.

Thanks for reading PA Local. We'll see you back here next week. But first ... send us your feedback. What did you like? What didn't you like? 

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