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You meet a lot of people and you become friends with a few of them, but sometimes there is one person you become really good friends with. Kevin Watts is one of those friends whom I had become very close.
In the last several months, I’ve become more involved in Kevin’s life. Kevin had been going through a lot of things that had come crashing down all at once. Kevin tried to handle his problems on his own, like the trooper he was, never trying to let it get him down, but deep inside I could see a change in his life.
I lost a friend two years ago that was also close to me and he also had a lot of things he was struggling with so I knew it was important to take a special interest in making him feel loved and in constant contact. When he died, Kevin was the person that helped me through one of the most tragic events I had when it came to a close friend. We seem to be inseparable, hanging out all the time and texting each other all the time. He always kept a smile on his face and that’s one thing I loved about Kevin even when things were rough Kevin always smiled which helped me a lot. Now it was time for me to step up and make sure I was there for him.
Whenever I went out to the bar, a party or a restaurant, I always thought about Kevin and made sure he was included. Whenever he wanted to go and have a bite to eat he would always contact me to join him. His favorite food was Mexican. One of the most recent memories was a couple of months ago, he called me to have dinner with him at the place Obama had dinner at, so I was excited to try the place out. When I arrived, he was there waiting on me with a smile on his face that dimple showing so deep. I noticed his hair had grown out into a longer style. It was sort of funny to me because he had this long piece of hair that he kept sweeping back from his forehead. His appearance had changed for the better. I thought to myself, my old Kevin is back! We had a wonderful time that night talking and carrying on about everything.
As the night went on we saw these two guys talking in sign language. In true Kevin fashion, Kevin went over and introduced himself to them. Next thing I knew, the two guys came over and sat at our table. We pulled out our cell phones and started talking to them via text message. Kevin even knew some sign languages. Kevin was very attentive to them the whole time and made sure they saw our lips as we spoke and included them in our conversation.
That’s what I like about Kevin, he never met a stranger. Kevin liked you for who you were, not what you looked like or how much money you had. That night took us to The Stirrup, Kevin’s favorite drinking spot. As we sat there with these two strangers that we had just met, we talked, texted, sign language and drank for several hours. We had one of the best times. Kevin made sure that he talked to them so they could read his lips and included them in all our conversation.
As I think back about the last several weeks, I saw great signs of improvement in Kevin’s life. He had gotten a new job, sold his house and had a place to stay until his condo was available. He was full of energy and life again. Then the last time I saw him in person was the end of March at the Rugby 3rd half party. I texted him and asked that he join me and I was even buying (if you don't know me, it’s something I seldom do). He came out and he had one of the biggest smiles on his face. I took a photo of him to treasure that smile of his face, little did I know it would be my last. I was glad he was out and he was among friends.
The last text I received was last week when he asked to do lunch and unfortunately I had to travel out of town. He asked when I would be back. I told him Sunday. The next day when I got off the plane I saw a text from Kevin that read “Safe travels.” That was the last text from him. That text means so much more now because it showed his unselfish love and concerns for his friends.
On Saturday around 9am I was awake and started looking at old photos when I came across an old photo I took back in 2010 when we celebrated his birthday in Louisville. We hung out at the hotel all day, Kevin Rodney, Jeff, Josh and I, listening to music talking about everything and things. We did our ritual facials, where we put green masque on our faces. I took a photo of that moment since it was a fun day.
As I looked at the photo I thought, I should send this to Kevin. I texted “Friends always miss you. Hope to see you soon for facial nite.” Little did I know at the time that would be my last text to him. Later that day I found out he had passed.
How could my friend who was so full of life with so much going on for him no longer be with us? I still have a hard time believing he is no longer here and I refuse to believe that he would do harm to himself. But I guess you never know what’s going on in someone’s mind. Behind that smile was someone that was hurting and being the person he was, he never let anyone know exactly what he was going through because he kept a smile on his face.
The other day I saw Kevin’s family to pay my respect and visit with them. When I got ready to leave, I said to Mrs. Watts, “Thank you.” She looked at me with tears in her eyes and a strange look on her face. I said “Thank you for bringing Kevin into our lives.”
His smile will forever be in my memory and his love for me will always be in my heart. I will miss him.
Until we meet again, Kevin, take care and say hello to Joe, my brother and Will, my friend.
One last thing, Sarah, his best girlfriend, said it best when she talked about Kevin, she referred to him as “Our Kevin.” And that’s what Kevin was OUR KEVIN.
Rest in Peace OUR KEVIN.
For a collection of photos of Kevin, see https://www.icloud.com/photostream/#AC5VaUrzGVMFbC
Nashville psychotherapist Barbara Sanders on coping with the death of Kevin Watts
Tennessee Suicide Prevention Network on the death of Kevin Watts
For those with a thirst to celebrate, Red Bull Unlocked is the key. In city after city, the most exciting bars, clubs, mixologists, performing artists, and more take over a local landmark building to showcase their signature ambiance while also collaborating for a must-see mashup. And now it's Music City’s turn to seize the spotlight, as the event brings 10 bars together in East Nashville’s Five Points neighborhood.
Fueled by the best of Nashville’s thriving music scene, Red Bull Unlocked has curated an eclectic night of show-stopping entertainment performances including a pop-up Whiskey Jam show, DJ sets, musicians, and more. The full lineup is here:
- Whiskey Jam (feat. Dozzi, Willie Shaw, and Johnny Hayes)
- A.B. Eastwood
- Daisha / Rap Girl
- Boom Bap (DJ Collective feat. DJ-Rate, Case Bloom)
- Whiskey Disco (DJ Collective feat. Coach, Jim O'Shea)
- Old Crow Medicine Show’s Jerry Pentercost (DJ Set)
- DJ Stretch
- DJ Griffin Green
- The Play Mates (Drag Show feat. Sasha, Vanity, Deception, Aura Mayari, Corlis Todd, and Carmin Triple C)
Counting down to the epic celebration, Daisha shares, “I never thought I’d have the opportunity to perform in so many of Nashville’s top spots all in the same night. Fans can expect a lot of bops and high energy. I want people to dance and have a good time.”
Ward Guenther, Whiskey Jam Founder, adds, “Red Bull has been enjoyed at Whiskey Jam since the very first night, so it's only fitting Whiskey Jam is enjoyed at Nashville's first Red Bull Unlocked. Looking forward to this!”
Red Bull Unlocked Istanbul
Photo courtesy of Red Bull
Local favorites including Pearl Diver, Tin Roof, Lipstick Lounge, White Limozeen, and more will join forces for one epic night. Full list of bars and partners below:
- The Dive Motel
- Lipstick Lounge
- Pearl Diver
- Play Dance Bar
- Rosemary & Beauty Queen
- The Stage
- Tin Roof
- Whiskey Jam
- White Limozeen
- Woolworth Theatre – Opening Fall 2022!
- Eleven Eleven - Opening 2023!
Date: August 21, 2022
Time: 6 PM – 11PM CT
Location: 1102 Forrest Ave, Nashville, TN 37206
Entrance: Ticked event
Rumble Boxing, the boxing-inspired group fitness studio, opened its doors for the first time in Nashville on June 20 at 609 Overton St, Nashville, TN. The hottest workout on the block is hosting its official grand opening from August 4th-7th with daily classes, membership specials, and prizes from local vendors. The new Rumble Boxing studio is currently offering a buy one class, get one free promotion for the Nashville community.
Rumble Boxing delivers 45-minute, 10-round, strength and conditioning group workouts, crafted around teardrop-style aqua boxing bags and high-intensity strength training circuits. This brings all fitness levels together to experience what Rumble is known for: combining the sweet science of boxing with high energy and positive vibes.
Rumble Boxing Fitness Studio
Photo courtesy of Rumble Boxing Gulch Nashville
This boutique fitness brand offers serious benefits like increased stamina and strength, with cardio that’s actually fun. The seasoned trainers at the new studio are thrilled to serve their local community while offering this fun, new modern approach to boxing and welcome members of all fitness levels to the Rumble family.
The new Rumble Boxing studio is owned and operated by Blake Baskin and Antonio Compton. With their background in the fitness industry, this dynamic duo is excited to bring their passion for boxing and group fitness to Nashville. As business and life partners, Blake and Antonio aim to create a strong community within their new Rumble Boxing studio and share their message of non-apologetic inclusivity.
Black and Gay-Owned Business
Rumble Boxing Store with Dolly Parton Mural
Photo courtesy of Rumble Boxing Gulch Nashville
“We own who we are, and this brand aligns with that perfectly,” said Antonio. “This is what we want to create and bring to this community: a fitness class that is designed for anyone and a place for people to be who they are. As a Black and gay-owned business, we want to help lower the division we see in the world right now. Our goal is to bring people together through Rumble, set everything aside, and have fun.”
To echo their message of acceptance and inclusion, Blake and Antonio commissioned a local Nashville artist to paint an 11 X 6-ft. mural of Nashville icon and philanthropist, Dolly Parton. The massive portrait features the country star in Rumble Boxing gear in the lobby of the studio.
The excitement and buzz around Rumble allowed Blake and Antonio to recruit top-tier trainers to head up the new studio, including Head Trainer Oronde Jones, a well-known celebrity trainer in the Nashville market.
Rumble Boxing Fitness Studio
Photo courtesy of Rumble Boxing Gulch Nashville
“Compared to other fitness classes, Rumble is a class you can truly get lost in for 45 minutes. With the dark room, you don’t have to worry if anyone is paying attention to you. The music is awesome and inspiring, and the beat drops right when you need it the most. Also, with boxing being a sport you can never truly master, you’re always improving and crafting your skill. On the floor, you’re consistently doing something new, which prevents you from ever hitting a plateau.” Said Oronde Jones about his favorite part of Rumble.
Rumble has massive brand loyalty and widespread appeal, partly thanks to attracting top names like Justin Bieber, Selena Gomez, Kendall Jenner, Hailey Baldwin, Jason Derulo, David Beckham, and Kevin Hart to its studios.
About Rumble Boxing
Founded in New York City in 2017, Rumble is a group fitness concept delivering a mix (or combination) of boxing-inspired circuits and the transformative power of resistance training. Pro and amateur fighters glove up together, no matter their fitness level or skill, to reveal their inner fighter. The experience is a 45-minute, 10-round, full-body cardio and strength workout crafted around specially designed water-filled, teardrop-style boxing bags. Rumble was founded by Noah Neiman (former Barry’s Bootcamp Master Trainer, and cast member of Bravo’s Work Out New York), Eugene Remm (Co-Founder of Catch Hospitality Group (Catch Restaurants, CATCH STEAK, Lexington Brass), Andy Stenzler (Co-Founder Cosí, Kidville), and Anthony DiMarco (13-time IRONMAN, former Managing Director, Google).
Who would have thought that we would have to get through a pandemic in order to appreciate the small things we have, such as the ability to simply pack our bags and hit the road?
For two years, there’s been nothing left for us travel junkies to do but sit at home and try to find new destinations that we will conquer once we defeat what appears to be the biggest villain of the 21st century. But once that happens, hold your bags tight because we will be up for some of the most interesting travel experiences. Take a look at some ideas for your post-COVID traveling plans:
A Gay Cruise
One of the best options to have in mind when all of this passes is a good, nice and long (pun intended) gay cruise. Or cruise in general, for that matter. Bear in mind, social distancing will still be a thing in the post-COVID world. But COVID-19 likely doesn’t mean that cruises will cease to exist. On the contrary, though cruise ships will probably keep the number of passengers smaller than before, it is believed that they will become an even bigger hit in the following period, especially because they are all going to go a lot more environmentally-friendly. On the bright side, is there any better way of celebrating the end of the pandemic than by cruising around some magnificent seas, stopping by at great cities and having romantic dinner nights at nice restaurants?
A getaway in nature
On the other hand, there is always the option of stepping away from the hustle and bustle of large cities, and spending some time in a place that’s not only healthy, but also beautiful. Some of the destinations that plenty of people will look for are the ones that can cater for both peace of mind and amazing things to see or do. One such destination is New Zealand, one of the greenest countries on Earth right now. Not only will you be visiting the magnificent country that gave us the beautiful Shire from Lord of the Rings; this is also a destination that’s excellent for everyone who prefers relaxing to partying. If you’re up for some partying, you will be able to hit Auckland, while if you’re for something calmer, there’s plenty of amazing places that you can see and visit.
Dancing Around at Pride
Pride parades are also events that you want to have in mind for the post-COVID world. Such events have always been quite important, but it seems that they are now more important than ever. The virus has canceled more than 75 Pride parades all around the world, which is one of the reasons why we must support the ones that will see the light of day once the pandemic stops. Truth be told, the upcoming Prides will perhaps be the best Prides ever organized. Give the gays a couple of weeks of quarantine, then let them outside and see what kind of party they are able to throw!
A road trip
If you’re, as well, waiting for the day to wake up and say “long gone are the days when we were not allowed to go wherever we wanted?”, and if staying at one place gave you a lot to think about, then your first post-COVID travel experience should definitely be a nice road trip. You can practically choose which country you want to tour, and you can either take your own car (you have probably missed it so much), or rent one at your destination. Australia is an amazing country for this, though, as it offers the possibility of seeing the Great Ocean Road, which is an amazing thing to see and experience. On the other hand, if you do not want or cannot leave your country, you can also choose to go on a domestic road trip – there are amazing things to see in your vicinity as well.
Holiday for a single guy
If you’re single, or you’re traveling someplace with another single friend, then you should definitely organize a nice vacation for yourself or for you and your single friend, and hit one of the best European cities. Europe has been greatly affected by the virus, which means that now it’s time to pay it back and get it back on its feet by traveling there and seeing all the amazing things it offers. Any city you choose in Europe – you will not make a mistake. Apart from being able to see great landmarks, you will also have the chance to have a drink at great gay clubs and pubs, and join unforgettable gay parties. And if the gay scenery is not your forte, worry not, as Europe indeed has to offer so many different and magnificent things.