Nestled in an obscure corner, hidden in the heart of Atlanta is 787 Windsor St. The venue, a former steam boiler manufacturing facility has been reclaimed and turned into a beautiful collection of pipes, metal, concrete, artwork and life. This year the venue was the location of Afropunk’s Carnival of Consciousness in Atlanta.
The graffiti on the walls and the sun beaming down on us provided the perfect atmosphere for the display of beautiful and unapologetic alternative blackness that I knew Afropunk would be. Everyone and everything was alluring. The outfits, the hair, the makeup-everything. I’d seen these images before online but I’d never seen so many expressive and artistic black people all at once. I remember wishing that there were more of these events or something similar so I could participate more often. I’m sure there are, I just haven’t found them yet.
But just look at some of these visuals:
On Sunday evening, Solange and Willow performed. Excuse me while I scream internally. Again. First off, I’d listened to Willow before so I knew she was very talented and was excited about seeing her but I was so shocked at how great she was. This was my first time ever seeing a black woman perform live and the vocals were outstanding.
Solange was the closer and came on at 10 so by the time the stage hands had began to build her set, night was already upon us and I was already mystified. Mainly because I didn’t know how to process my feelings; I was sad because I wanted to meet her and explain what her music meant to me but also really bubbly because I couldn’t wait to witness what she was about to do. I wasn’t let down. In fact I was blown away and still remain so a full 24 hours later. It is difficult for me to explain how seeing her perform made me feel so I’ll just simply say that I’ve never seen someone so comfortable and confident express their elation in such a way. It is not very often that witnessing someone revel in their happiness can incite joy in another person but somehow it did. I’m already waiting for her to perform somewhere close enough for me to get on a bus and go see her again because watching Solange live is an experience that I must have at least 4 times. (Don’t ask where the number came from-it just feels right)
So Afropunk was truly an experience. It was important for me to have it as I continue to embark on my quest to become more carefree and live my life without fear of judgement from other people. It’s funny, out there in the crowd with Solange on stage and with nothing and no one watching me , except perhaps the moon in the sky, I felt free. Free enough to dance and shout and sing and cry and love everything I was feeling. I think that was probably the first time I let myself go and just fell into an experience wholeheartedly.
I will always be grateful to Afropunk for allowing me this.