Can you believe it’s already Wednesday?! If not, you must now considering you’re reading this fresh new post created just for you! Mind you, you’re not the only one having trouble to believe we’re already halfway through another week. I mean, technically one could say it’s back to reality for me; being that I’m back in town, back at work and what not. However, it doesn’t feel that way! Not for a single minute, second, millisecond. Sure my body’s here, in the present, busy with all the mundane things that come with life. My mind on the other hand, my mind is still roaming around Parc de La Vilette. Coming up short on enough senses to fully perceive the magic that is (was; see I’m still not willing to accept it’s over) Afropunk.
All the way leading to Afropunk, I didn’t want to be too exited because this usually leads to high expectations. We all know those are rarely met and as a result it leaves us with disappointment. So I tried, HARD, to stop exactly that. Convincing myself that by keeping my expectations low, the reality could only turn out good/better. What happened was the opposite; my expectations (at least the few I allowed myself to have) weren’t met. The experience exceeded it, in ways I hadn’t imagined and couldn’t have seen coming. To the point that it left me teary-eyed (read: crying) during the closing performance of the event. I never felt more at home whilst in another country, surrounded by 99,9% strangers (experiencing true collective effervescence, as my sociology professor would say).
Let’s start by getting the not so fun part out of the way:
Honesty is key in my world and so with everything I share with you guys. Thus, I wouldn’t be me if I wasn’t completely honest about my experience at Afropunk. Mind you, this is my first time visiting Afropunk so I cannot compare it to last years’ edition. I can only compare it to the other festivals I know (in other words where I’ve been to). Different, doesn’t always equate to bad. Also this is only their second time hosting it in France.
The venue of the event was smaller than anticipated. There was only one (indoor) main stage and the rest of the ‘festival’ was held outside on the premise of the park. Because of this, I feel the ‘festival’ part is a bit misleading. Especially after you compare it to most other festivals, which are hosted on a number of different stages covering more ground. Furthermore, the part held outside was free of charge. The ticket only granted you access to the indoor main stage, where all the performances were. This makes sense in a way but had I known this beforehand, I wouldn’t had bought tickets for both days. I spent most of my time outside, not just because of the heavenly combinations of the atmosphere and the weather, but also because I wouldn’t have mind missing Saturdays line up.
In hindsight, a ticket for Sunday would’ve sufficed, so that’s my advice for next year. Should they keep the same concept, I’d say buy your tickets on location instead of beforehand. Despite of this, there’s no doubt in my mind that I’m going back next year and there’s not a fiber in my being regretting that I visited Afropunk this year.
On the contrary! I feel honored to have been part of it, here’s why:
Afropunk has its origin in creating space for a group that wasn’t granted any space in the mainstream punk scene. Something groundbreaking on it’s own but what it is now is bigger than that! It has become a place where different niches from punk, house to hiphop & RnB, sharing African roots, come together. Seamlessly meshing with each other because there’s no competition. The overall feeling is that there’s room for everyone, in whatever way they want to take it up and present it. I’ve yet to see such celebration of self-expression, with respect at its core. I instantly felt at home, felt accepted for exactly who I am and as a result, made connections with individuals I wouldn’t have ever encountered otherwise. If you ask me, this is the essence of Afropunk.
It is a safe space, created by and specifically for black people. Where stereotypes do not exist and each individual is encouraged to express themselves precisely as they choose to. Unfortunately, an anomaly in this world, making Afropunk even more of a gem. Thinking back of Afropunk, the crowd during Yasiin Bey’s (aka Mos Def) closing performance appears in front of me. Witnessing a see of black people, vibing expressively as
their body moved them to, collectively as well as individually, in perfect harmony like the waves of a sea, is breathtaking. Beautiful, in every sense of the word. I genuinely feel as if I left earth and transcended to another zone (I actually used those exact words whilst describing my experience on the first day).
It is an experience that is now part of my personal growth and for that (and many more reasons) I’ll cherish it for a lifetime. Best believe I’ll tell my grandkids and who ever else will listen about Afropunk Festival 2017. As if my love for Paris wasn’t big enough already. Words cannot do it justice, thus I’ll stop trying. Make sure to check my Instagram for more Afropunk impressions. There’s a reason they say pictures are worth a thousand words;)