There’s a chic, intimate sitting room adjacent to Raub Welch’s bedroom. It’s filled with fresh flowers and dignified portraits of Black women, from famous faces like Rosa Parks and Mahalia Jackson to his enslaved ancestors. The space is so sacred to Welch — a visual artist and founder of Afro-Opulence, a lifestyle brand that curates social events and sells home goods — that in 2020 it inspired him to launch a series of Afrocentric parties at his modernized red Victorian home in Bronzeville.
There’s Afro-Praise, a monthly gospel-house brunch with tambourines and drums and, of course, Southern fried chicken with all the fixings. Held in May, Afro-Antoinette honors Black mothers with tea-infused cocktails, cheese platters, and finger sandwiches, while Afro-Love, a swanky cocktail party each Sunday in February, marks Black History Month.
“We are celebrating Blackness on a different level,” he explains. “I want to bring back that type of energy.” His home is filled with more than 100 original works by Black artists — including 10 of his own pieces. And a Nelson Mandela quote, “It always seems impossible until it’s done,” emblazoned on a wall serves as the focus in the cocktail lounge. Though Welch supplies the theme, the guests bring the energy, partly through their ensembles. At an Afro-Love event last year, the crowd arrived to a soundtrack of high-energy neosoul jams wearing evening gowns, tuxedos, cocktail dresses, beads, sequins, gloves, and hats. The $100 ticket included Champagne, Cosmopolitans, and hors d’oeuvres from Afro-Opulence’s resident chefs, the mom-and-daughter culinary team of Liv and Bailey Estelle. Their menu is ever changing, with offerings like grilled baby lamb chops and caviar-topped deviled eggs.
“The food and drink set the tone of every party, and the chefs create the menu based on the theme,” says Welch. At Rosé Wednesdays, held weekly from May through August in his beautifully manicured garden, bites include Southern pimento cheese on rye, cranberry chicken salad on croissants, and cheesecake squares with edible flowers picked from his garden, while rosemary-infused Champagne cocktails and pours of La Fête du Rosé — a Black-owned luxury wine brand by Donae Burston — keep the party going.
Since Afro-Opulence events take place at his home, Welch caps the guest list at 25 people. The next Afro-Love will be February 6; for ticket information, follow him on Instagram at @veryraub.