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Hors Pair founder Sharlene Clarke (front) at the launch party on June 12, 2022. Photo by Fenti, provided by Hors Pair.

Hors Pair launches onto Ottawa’s social scene with all-white day party

By Dominique Gené on June 14, 2022

The patio at the back of Somewhere Dine Bar in downtown Ottawa transformed into a white garden for Hors Pair Social’s launch party last Sunday. White roses hung above the seating area, close to a faux green wall adorned with a white “Hors Pair Social” sign. 

Hors Pair Social Launch Party, June 12, 2022. Photo by Fenti, provided by Hors Pair.

Formerly known as The Link Up, Hors Pair is a Black-owned social group that curates fun and networking events specifically for Black folks in Ottawa.  

“I’m very passionate about everything Black,” said Sharlene Clarke, the group’s founder, in a Zoom interview three days before the party. And she meant it. 

Clarke founded The Link Up in 2019 to create opportunities for Black-owned businesses and entrepreneurs to connect. But along the way, her vision blurred. 

“I was so excited to jump on board and start these projects that I think I was casting my net too wide,” she said. “I was trying to merge different types of events in one.” 

But with a new name and a rebrand, Hors Pair aims to bring an unparalleled and high-end vibe to the city. Rather than being packed into one, different events from networking to brunch will be held separately.

DJ Viibz started the evening with mellow Konpa tunes, a slow dance music style that originated in Haiti. Attendees, dressed in white, started to fill the venue. The servers, sporting all-black attire, greeted guests with flutes of champagne. 

A special menu curated for the event featured salt cod fritter pops served on sticks. A sweet, syrupy sauce drizzled on the crispy skin of the fritters perfectly balanced the salted and seasoned flavour. The grilled jerk chicken satay that followed was tender, flavourful and extra spicy. 

Some hours later, DJ Ivan turned the relaxed ambience of the party up a notch. The crowd rushed to the dance floor, dancing to Afrobeats, Dancehall and Rabòday. Rabòday is a genre of electronic dance music rooted in Rasin, a traditional Haitian rhythm. It became popular in 2010 following the devastating earthquake that killed thousands. 

At this point, I stopped taking notes and joined the dance floor, hands up in the air. I was no longer in Ottawa, but at a block party in Haiti that I had no business attending (sorry, Grandma). 

Hors Pair brought together different communities from the Black diaspora with music that defined each of these cultures. Clarke herself is of Haitian and Jamaican descent.

Hors Pair Launch party, June 12, 2022. Photo by Fenti, provided by Hors Pair.

Hors Pair Launch party, June 12, 2022. Photo by Fenti, provided by Hors Pair.

Hors Pair Launch party, June 12, 2022. Photo by Fenti, provided by Hors Pair.

Clarke is set to make her mark on Ottawa’s social scene. “She gets things done,” Emmanuelle Sainté, an Hors Pair staff member, said of Clarke, with a smile on her face. 

Clarke, who works in project management, is familiar with planning and organization. But Hors Pair is a work of passion. Her attention to detail and welcoming aura testifies to that.

“I’m creating events that I would like to go to,” she said in our interview. 

This successful launch party set the tone for what’s to come. And as this event’s notice put it, it will be Black AF!

Find Hors Pair Social on Instagram or send them a message via their website.