I’ve been to Afro Punk Festival twice in Brooklyn. Recently, I seen SZA, Solange, Willow Smith to top it off, but I also connected with some amazing people this year that made the festival that much more fun. Commuting from Boston to New York itself can be a pain due to traffic, passengers being too loud, eating smelly foods on the bus, stinking up the bus, bus being pulled over due to sleeping at the wheel (yes this happened) and also sexual harassment (A girl on the bus was touched by a man who was drunk & taken by the police one night). I just never know what I’m dealing with when it comes to taking the bus to New York. So I try to hype myself up before going because I know the moment I touch ground, I’m not eating. Literally, no time to, ever. I either eat late or not at all because room service stops at 11pm or everything in Manhattan is closed, or nothing thats appetizing for a person that has acid reflux is available. It’s pizza, or you have to walk blocks down just for Mcdonalds or a random pub that sells shitty appetizers. I’m not sitting down in a hotel for a 25.00 burger or going to bother opening up a bag of chips because it’s just a tease to not being able to eat real food nearby after a long day. Brooklyn will be my choice of stay btw from now on when I go for Afro Punk Festival because of the food being cheaper, better and more available. I usually stay busy no matter what the reason is for my visits in New York because it usually consists of media work or leisure fun that turns into work (vlogging). So I usually have a list of priorities the moment I get to New York because stores open a little later around 11:00am and close around 7:00pm in say, the SOHO or just midtown area.
The day of Afro Punk Festival is pretty chaotic in the beginning. Its ALWAYS hot the day of the festival and the drop off location is randomly in the middle of traffic in front of the park, so planning for a pick up and drop off spot where it’s out of the way of traffic and crowds is key to being stress free when you arrive or leave. The actual Afro Punk Festival app actually has suggestions/tips like that. People are waiting in line, the music is blasting in the background, everyone is looking good and dressed for the occasion waiting to finally get in past security. The smell of weed and smoked sausages from the food trucks is in the air and you just get this vibe that it’s about to be lit when you make it in, until you struggle to find which stage your fav artists will be on and at what time. Everyone is there for the same musicians for the mist part, the big timers. So unless you’re in VIP or even that, be sure you make your way to the stage 20 minutes before the artist is due to hit it. It sucks when your favorite artists are performing back to back because you have to leave one of their shows early, but at least you get to see them right? Everyone will be rushing over trying to get to the front and if you do want to be as close up as possible, be sure you have your goodies!
What I mean by goodies, I mean your water, a snack, your blunt and alcohol. Once you’re up front, there ain’t no turning back because people aren’t the happiest when asked to move in the tight crowd while their fav musician is performing. I’ve had people suck their teeth, roll their eyes, have attitudes all because I wanted to leave, I asked politely and smiled lol. But also there needs to be more water stations because I couldn’t find not one and nor did anyone else know where they were for the two times that I’ve been. I had to ask and cut a lot of people to get a bottle of water in a food line because I was so dehydrated that I almost fainted. My mouth was so dry! But yes, water is needed all day. Walking up to people and taking their pictures is also fun because it’s an opportunity to showcase your talent on both ends as a photographer and as the well expressed dresser. Dressing comfortable is a priority for me over style when I visit festivals because lets be real, I’m not leaving early for the sake of my shoes looking good and not for what they actually are capable of providing, which is comfort. I might wear something most likely from Urban Outfitters like a wrap dress or levi high waisted shorts and a tank with some regular flat sneakers or toms. My hair is what I aim to be on point and a minimalistic look with makeup because who likes to have sweaty makeup on all day in the heat? Not this girl! No big bags, just a small shoulder purse was fine for me.
JUST recently when I went, Solange was about to perform, I have VIP just for Saturday btw. I had to leave SZA’s set early for Solange but was okay wth that since I seen SZA live in Boston the night before. I rushed to see Solange and as I’m squeezing to the middle, because it’s already crowded, a girl in the background that I past, got mad and said she bet I wasn’t a real Solange fan and that I’m only there because she’s Beyonce’s sister. Now, she didn’t know me and I didn’t bump into her. The show didn’t even start yet. So what was that remark for? And how does one know how long I’ve been a fan of Solange? Which happens to be since her debut album Solo Star in 2002. I’ve been a stan since day 1 and what is funny is that, I sung all of her old songs from her ‘True’ EP and it was dead silent from her and her hating posse. I was living for that moment! I was shaking my hair, moving my hips, arms in the air and singing each and every single song while they didn’t know not a single word. So that’s why I didn’t clap back at her the first time because I knew I was a fan, I knew I was going to know every song, so there is that. That was a highlight for me because I shut her doubts up.
I learned something new each time I went and I’m sure I will continue to discover more lessons when attending Afro Punk Festival. I will say I enjoyed the acts a lot more this year than 2 years ago.