Review: Funky Punkies- Afropunk London (@afropunk)

afropunklondonFirstly, I will start by say­ing that being asked to put into words my exper­i­ence of Afropunk is truly one of the hardest tasks I have ever had to do. This is simply some­thing that can only be described as LIFE. I apo­lo­gise now for this account because it can not do it justice but here’s my attempt. A word of advice for all those who love music of black ori­gin: GET A TICK­ET FOR NEXT YEAR.

I used to live in Alex­an­dra Palace four years ago. It was the first place I lived when I left my fam­ily home. There’s some­thing about the air, energy and vibe there that makes it so spe­cial, so rich. When I learned that London’s first edi­tion of Afropunk would be there, I had the per­fect excuse to vis­it the place that birthed my inde­pend­ence.

Afropunk’s ori­gin is Brook­lyn, New York and has been a annu­al fest­ival for just over a dec­ade, provid­ing black people a oppor­tun­ity for inter­ac­tion with cul­tures and ideo­lo­gies that ste­reo­typ­ic­ally exist out­side of black cul­ture. This year Lon­don opened its doors to this idea for its res­id­ents.

Get­ting off the train I was immersed in this sea of melan­in. The walk from the sta­tion to Alex­an­dra Palace was a peace­ful stroll; the walk to lib­er­a­tion. The out­fits were incred­ible. I didn’t go LFW but I can’t ima­gine it came even close to the magic I saw. People of all walks of life were allowed to express them­selves in a judge­ment free envir­on­ment, some­thing that most people do not exper­i­ence every­day; some­times not at all.

Given that we now live in a day and age were we watch and hear on a weekly basis of black people being killed by police, any­thing that cel­eb­rates black people and provides them with a safe haven is truly some­thing spe­cial. Let’s also not for­get about the Orlando shoot­ing, Brex­it and the fact that Don­ald Trump is even a pres­id­en­tial can­did­ate. It’s safe to say that there’s a lot of shit things going on in the world. Afropunk couldn’t be a more per­fect move­ment: no sex­ism, no racism, no ableism, no ageism, no homo­pho­bia, no fat­pho­bia, no trans­pho­bia, no hate­ful­ness. This is the sign hung every­where to remind people that we as a com­munity do not have time for bull­shit.

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Usu­ally at music fest­ivals, I have no care for any­thing oth­er than the music. Afropunk’s stalls were filled with bold and ori­gin­al goods from real people. The clothes, jew­ellery and art­work told stor­ies of people who genu­inely love what they do. Every smile was warm and authen­tic so part­ing with money felt so easy. The array of food too was pleas­ing. It ranged from beau­ti­ful tra­di­tion­al Ghanian food to your typ­ic­al bur­ger and chips. All went down well with a cool beer and amaz­ing vibes.

The music itself of course drove the fest­ival. Gold­link is a artist that I was par­tic­u­larly happy to have watched. His energy totally cap­tured the crowd very early in the day. The irony of the song “sober thoughts” was par­tic­u­larly amus­ing. He was def­in­itely one of the best acts of the fest­ival.

Kwabs has this voice that is beau­ti­fully haunt­ing, but the way it fills a room when it’s heard live is some­thing truly spec­tac­u­lar. The moment he arrived on stage I felt so proud to be Brit­ish and to see someone really singing from his soul. Stand out per­form­ance.

SZA if I am really hon­est before Afropunk I hadn’t heard much of. Firstly her phys­ic­al­ity is some­thing to be admired and then her altern­at­ive approach to rnb made her a showstop­per. A very nice sur­prise for my ears. Be sure to look her up if you’re not already a fan.

Grace Jones. Do I need to really describe? Crazy, beau­ti­ful, forever on point fash­ion, vibes and unapo­lo­get­ic. The End.

What I will love to com­pare next year when I will ven­ture forth to oth­er Afropunk fest­ivals in New York, Atlanta and Par­is is the music of black ori­gin that is inher­ent to each city and how that changes the vibe and the dynam­ic of the fest­ival itself. Hear­ing Grime music whil­st eat­ing, shop­ping and social­ising as well as Brit­ish music acts such as Akala, Lady Leshurr and Laura Mvu­la gave London’s Afropunk that extra touch of per­fec­tion. Akala in par­tic­u­lar was so humble. He was in the crowd after her per­formed, sup­port­ing oth­er artists and enga­ging with all the fans who man­aged to spot him. The sup­port, togeth­er­ness and love cre­ated a vital­ity that I could only hope and pray, can occur fre­quently. I’ve nev­er felt more proud to be Black and Brit­ish. I can only won­der how pre­vi­ous fest­ivals have been and what the future holds for it. My only gripe with the fest­ival is that I per­son­ally would have pre­ferred for it to have been out in Alex­an­dra Park. There’s some­thing about being out­side in the open that gives that funky fest­ival feel­ing rather than hid­ing us away but it didn’t stop the utop­ic, seam­less, effer­ves­cent spir­it that took all that atten­ded that day. Let’s see what the next one will bring. Thank you Lon­don Afropunk. You were truly dope.

 

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Valerie Ebuwa

Valer­ie “wing girl” Ebuwa is a freel­ance dance artist and yoga teach­er from East Lon­don. She is cur­rently dan­cing for 3 con­tem­por­ary dance com­pan­ies and is one of the found­ing mem­bers of Eclectics Dance and CEO of Hip Hop House.

About Valerie Ebuwa

Valerie "wing girl" Ebuwa is a freelance dance artist and yoga teacher from East London. She is currently dancing for 3 contemporary dance companies and is one of the founding members of Eclectics Dance and CEO of Hip Hop House.