I’ve never been to a music festival. This hasn’t been by design. It’s typically been a scheduling issue. While all my people were at Lollapalooza, or doing it for the ‘gram at Made in America, I was somewhere else. This year, I decided to do something different. Here’s what I learned, saw and experienced at Afropunk.
1. Even if you didn’t like Lauryn Hill or any of the other dope artists featured (and were reevaluating your life), there were a plethora of things for you to do and enjoy. Booths, vendors, fashion, more vendors and more food trucks than I knew what to do with.
2. Don’t interrupt the magic. I’d wager there are few events in the world where the level of flourishment and fleekery matched what was happening at Afropunk. With this many carefree black girls in one place, the magic was indeed palpable. In times like these, I rely on the timeless wisdom from my aunties:
“Greatness isn’t something you should interrupt, baby.”
3. It’s always better live. Apple Music is dope and Beats have great sound quality, but Grace Jones hula-hooping doesn’t really come across via audio. You need to be there.
4. The protest is the celebration. We need that now more than ever.
5. Black happiness >>> long work weeks.
6. Hydrate and refuel. I made the terrible mistake of only having a protein shake before leaving for Afropunk. I figured I’d just eat when I got there. That was poor planning. You’re going to do a lot of walking, moving and dancing, so it’s important to stay fed so you can stay lit.
7. Mind your wallet. Seriously, there are so many vendors, artists, designers, and generally creative people that you can blow money fast in any direction. Buy black, but keep your MetroCard topped off.
8. Afropunk is just as much about the visual as it is the visceral. What you see is in fact exactly what you get. Black. Loud. Unapologetic. Radiant. Free. Honest. Loving.
9. The hipsters were right next to the sneaker heads who were grabbing a drink with the activists to the left of the naturalistas. That type of synergy is necessary. What I got was a gumbo of good vibes that left me gratefully overwhelmed. Afropunk isn’t just a safe space. It’s a galaxy of all the ways blackness intersects — and everyone gets their own planet.
10. I’ve known being black was the thing to be. Afropunk just reinforced that doing it out loud is also the way to live.
11. Bring a squad. The lone wolf move is cool for a rookie, but next time I’ll definitely squad up.