Last month Afro Glory did something very exciting! You may have seen my many tweets of excitement already but I’m going to tell you anyway… I ATTENDED AFROPUNK! That’s right AFROGLORY DOES AFROPUNK (it was meant to be). Not only was this one of the most exciting things to happen to me but it was definitely a milestone as a blogger to be invited to such an amazing event that celebrates black creativity! As a black woman in the creative industry myself, I love that events like Afropunk exist. If you follow Afropunk on twitter or Instagram you will have noticed that the theme this year is ‘WE THE PEOPLE’ have a read of this beautiful statement released by Afropunk for their 2017 festival:
We, the people built this land. Our flesh and blood is present in its buildings, its roads and its bridges. Our souls are its spiritual cornerstone. Our culture is its foundation. Our being nourishes this land – as our ancestors’ beings nourished it before us – yet the land has not always reimbursed us.
We, the people recognize the bullshit of the powerful. The injustices they committed in the past have never disappeared from view. The inequalities they perpetrate are there for all but the blind. The inadequacies they’ve paid forward to a future age are appearing over the horizon. Unless…
We, the people have a code:
We, the people commit ourselves to uphold and fight for the rights enshrined in our code. Let us honour those who sacrificed their lives for our freedom, and hold accountable those who curtail our liberties. Let us walk in the footsteps of warriors who came before us, and strive to create a society based on fundamental human rights. Let us rewrite the universal laws and educate the errant minds.
We, the people have the will to heal the divisions that threaten to reduce our dreams to ashes. We believe in resurrecting the creative power of our diversity. We open our hearts and minds, and dance to the rhythm of a brand- new future. Together. Brave and compassionate. And beautiful.
May the Goddess protect we, the people.
Afropunk London took place on the 22nd and 23rd of July and was hosted in one of the most incredible venues I’ve ever been in. If you have ever been to an event at Printworks, then you know exactly what I mean! For those of you who haven’t let me describe how incredible it is…
Described on the Printworks website as:
‘a ground breaking new multi purpose event space for London. Set to change the face of the capitals cultural scene, Printworks is a 6,000 capacity licenced venue for music and the arts.’
‘Comprising of six vast events spaces, all arranged over multiple levels with a maze of corridors and rooms throughout which retain all the original machinery and industrial features, including two fully soundproofed press halls, from when it was a fully operational printing press.’
As we walked into Afropunk hosted in the old print factory we were greeted by the hard working and dedicated team. As I looked around I saw some of the wonderful stalls setting up their beautiful items, a large open space and lots and lots of metal! Just to my left I could see a dimly lit room with a green glow, it was so inviting I couldn’t wait to get in and explore.
It felt like I spent a good hour just discovering room after room of awesomeness! Each room offering its own atmosphere and vibe. I did all my exploring downstairs first. The ‘Green Stage’ (GS) was the first room I discovered, it was a large open space ready to be filled with excited fans; cheering and dancing! Right next to it was a chill out space which I absolutely love that Afropunk provided. As you may already know I suffer with overwhelming waves of anxiety in stressful situations (aka at a busy music festival), knowing that there was a space for me to take a minute to myself and relax really enhanced my experience at Afropunk and immediately comforted me. Just on the other side of the relaxation area there were loads of amazing stalls inviting you to explore their wonderful products and services. I was very excited to see Dorcas Creates there with her mother and to discover books by and for black people. Of course I had to visit the merchandise stall too and get my hands on an official Afropunk memento!
Before going upstairs, I also went to the outside area where they were serving food. They had a great selection of food available including some traditional Caribbean dishes. Even though it was raining on the first day of Afropunk the vibes and fun were not dampened. I also want to mention that I don’t think I have ever been in such luxury toilets at a festival. I could hear people walking into the bathroom saying ‘this is nice’. Each toilet was like a downstairs toilet in a home. They even had little framed pieces of artwork and a wall mounted lamp in each one… I’m so serious.
Heading upstairs and walking into the main space was literally breath taking. The exceptionally high ceilings and unusually long rooms were so wonderful. First you walked into an open space which had a bar, some incredible artwork and perfect mood lighting. Just parallel to that was the Red Stage (RS) which was my favourite place to be the whole weekend and I’ll tell you why. The RS was in a long and narrow room which meant everyone was close together but we weren’t 5,000 thick and 10,000 wide of people like you might expect at other festivals. It was a bearable amount of people around you at any time. Me being me, I waited at the front for all of the artists I really wanted to see at this stage and was never panicked by the amount of people. I had such an incredible time watching the artists perform at this stage.
I won’t keep talking about how impressive and beautiful the venue was but I will say it made Afropunk so special! It was such a great choice of venue and I will look forward to any future Afropunk’s held there!
There were some fantastic stalls at Afropunk! There was such a wide variety of products and services on hand, you could get nearly anything you needed including: the perfect earrings, beautiful handmade dolls, beautiful African print statement fashion, deep and knowledgeable books, creative black artwork and so much more.
There weren’t only stalls selling things at Afropunk, one of the most prominent features in the area behind the GR was a beaten up car with a powerful story. The charity Arts Against Abuse had a vintage car that appeared to be in an accident. When I spoke to the wonderful team about the car they explained to me that the car had been damaged in a domestic violence incident. When I was told this the car seemed very powerful in its message. Sometime we don’t understand things until they happen to us or we can actually see them and as a visual person I definitely felt the message. Everyone was invited to leave a message on the car…
‘Our philosophy is that effective relief from domestic abuse requires a multifaceted approach: providing sustaining funds for domestic abuse services, imparting creative reintegration skills to survivors, supporting the emotional and mental wellbeing of victims and survivors through unique and accessible arts based activities and installing preventative measures by educating our communities and young people.’
I wasn’t sure whether I would be able to cover the app in my blog post but I found it so useful that I just have to mention it. The app was there for me before during and after the event. I got notifications about performers coming on stage, useful tips and other frequent updates about what was happening at the event.
If you follow me on instagran @afroglory_ you may have seen on my insta stories screenshots of some of my replies to the notifications.
Who I saw
Unfortunately, I can’t be in two places at the same time, but if I could I would have been at all stages at all times! The performances I saw were incredible. The artists were all just as excited to be at Afropunk as the crowd and it created an amazing atmosphere.
At 4:30pm Nadia Rose came on stage and of course I was front row because she is an amazing artist. At only 24 years old she is an incredible woman and a role model to young black women everywhere. Her incredible talent and glowing stage presence made for an incredible set. She performed one of my favourites too so as you can imagine I was dancing and singing away… enjoy.
Sadly, I had to leave soon after Nadia Rose but I knew I would be back for day 2 shinanigans… and I was!
I didn’t want to miss a thing on day 2 so I highlighted all the acts I wanted to see on my iPhone, made sure my Afropunk app was set up to send me notifications and made sure I was front and centre for everyone!
I arrived just a little too late to see Mahlia but I heard her performance and was still absolutely blown away. She has such an amazing voice and from what I could hear the crowd were loving it too!
At 6:00pm I watched SATE perform at the GS and did not leave disappointed. I was very excited to watch SATE after stalking them online and loving what I saw. Talk about bringing it! There was so much energy and the outfit was a show stopper. The whole room was moving and the energy levels were turned up. The keyboardist had an excellent t-shirt on too which read ‘BROWN AS F#@K’ which made me chuckle and then want one desperately. I might have to do a DIY job of making my own because it was lit!
At 7:45pm The Nova Twins gave us an amazing performance! So much bouncy hair and girl power coming straight off the stage. I absolutely loved the energy and the ladies were looking amazing. All of the performers at Afropunk were looking on point.
At 9:00pm on the RS the whole crowd were buzzing with excitement waiting for one of the main acts Willow Smith to enter. As usual I was front and centre, I could feel the crowd behind me building their excitement and questioning every shadow in the background ‘IS IT HER?’ & ‘I THINK I SAW WILLOW!’ safe to say I was not the only one seriously excited about seeing her perform. She even made a small appearance over the balcony and the crowd lost their cool, it was really fun to be there in that moment! Her performance was incredible and her music was powerful. She has such a calmness and realness about how she performs and the music she writes. Definitely one to watch if you get the chance.
As soon as Willow finished her set I raced (without pushing or running of course… you have to be sensible and respectful in a crowd) down to the GS to see my absolute favourite person of the whole line up Lianne La Havas! Oh… my… gosh… she looked incredible and as expected her voice was just as heavenly live as it has been in all of her recorded music. Performing some of her new music and some of the classics, I was taken back in time to the first time I heard her music. The crowd were singing along and loving it.
If you didn’t come to hear about the music, then you definitely came to see the inspiring fashion. I couldn’t capture it all by myself so I’m hooking you up with some seriously awesome Instagram pics.
Make sure you get over to Instagram and follow these guys for some more seriously awesome photos & check out the tags: #AFROPUNKLONDON #AFROPUNKLONDON2017 #AFROPUNK2017 & #AFROPUNK
Well, I hope you enjoyed my post about Afropunk London 2017! Special Thanks to the whole Afropunk team for making it a memorable and awesome experience for us all! I can’t wait to do it all again next year!!
Film credit: Daisy Bethany
Music credit: BOTB winners Blackfish Collective – Zobo (Instrumental)
All photos belong to Afro Glory unless stated.
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