There’s No Place Like Afropunk
So me and Afropunk Brooklyn, we kinda have a thing. I sort of liken it it to a college romance. When we get together, it’s this heady, intense, sensational whirlwind. I feel at home with Afropunk, understood; I feel like Afropunk gets me. I’ll spend an insane amount of time with my boo (all day and night, y’all), I’ll fall more and more in love and then just like that, everything’s over and it’s time to go home.
If you’ve never been to Afropunk Brooklyn, you should know that it is an entire vibe. There is a pulse, an energy, a love. It’s two straight days of the best underground music and dJing you will find, period. It’s one of the few places you could catch almost all your old and would be VH-1 Soul faves (#RIP VH-1 Soul😪). It is the town square where all the proudest weirdos, dorks, outsiders and insiders gather. It’s the meeting place for the cool kids and the misfits come together and it’s nothing but love. Afropunk is simply beautiful.
But just like your college boo, Afropunk can be a little tough around the edges. It can be crowded - very crowded. There can be long lines for food that in some cases is in short supply. There is dust - and a lot of it. And the college love nail biter we all know: two acts you’re most interested in overlap, so who do you choose to see? It is a festival for the die-hards, not the faint of heart. It is a festival that goes hard for its loves, but just like a college love, it can also wear you out.
This year was an epic one for Afropunk. It was a lineup for the ages; Daniel Cesar, HER (the two of them did a surprise duet and they had cheeeeeemistray, y’all!), The Internet, Yuna, Jessie Reyes, Jacob Banks, Ibeyi, Janelle Monae (who have the performance of a lifetime) and BADU (who was quintessential BADU perfection). I could not have asked for more from a show. But as I looked around at all the influencers and photographers, the subtle but ever present corporate sponsorship sprinkled all over the festival and reflected on my aching feet and grumbling tummy, I also began to wonder if, like my college love, me and Afropunk were starting to grow in different directions. Afropunk has evolved; it is subtly bigger and glossier. And I have evolved. I love festivals, festival music and fashion, and being out, but I am finding myself less than comfortable in shoulder to shoulder crowds. At a certain point I thought that maybe this would be my last Afropunk; then at that exact moment I hear “Aye, aye, aye, aaaaaayeeee” and turn to see a whole group of people behind me breakout in a impromptu group dance. And then I remember: this is what draws me here. The community. The acceptance. The love. Just like that first real college romance, it’s hard to just walk away from Afropunk, no matter how much either of us change. Will I be back next year? Who knows. But I know this; this year’s festival left me thoroughly entertained, totally exhausted and, like always, completely full of love.