Afropunk Brooklyn 2016: Melanin, Music and Magic Oh My!

Living in America as a black person can be, draining. Let alone as a black person who enjoys music, fashion and culture that isn’t particularly mainstream. It’s easy to start to feel alone or to even lose yourself in the day to day, trying to fit in just enough to get by. Sometimes you just need to fellowship with people who are on the same page as you.  A place where you can come and just, be. This is where the Afropunk Festival comes in to save the day.

All Hail Afropunk

The creators of the festival originally had a vision of bringing together black artists within the punk rock community, especially those who had trouble finding a refuge with other like-minded individuals; a place where blackness and punk rock collide. Although the festival has blossomed to include other musical genres since it first started in 2005, the intersectional atmosphere remains the same and they are successfully creating a space for unconventional and quirky individuals from all corners of the artisphere to exist together.

This past weekend J Street had the extreme pleasure of attending the Afropunk Festival in Brooklyn, NY. We’re so thankful to the brilliant minds who host this event year after year where blackness is unapologetic, differences are celebrated, and the environment is free of “sexism, racism, ableism, ageism, homophobia, fatphobia, transphobia and hatefulness”.

Home Sweet Home

If there was one word to describe Afropunk it would be: home.  It is a safe space where the rules of what is “acceptable” are thrown out of the window.

Just close your eyes for a second. Imagine standing in the midst of a huge crowded space. All around you are people wearing bold colors with brilliant smiles and luminous coconut oil glazed skin. Everyone is laughing and dancing and singing. Lovers are holding hands. Friends are sitting on blankets sharing food and beer. Your favorite artist is blasting through the speakers. It’s something like your family reunion, only instead of family it’s complete strangers. And instead of your auntie asking why you keep chopping your hair off, it’s another queen coming up to you and commenting on how badass your cut looks. This is EXACTLY what it feels like to be at Afropunk.

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Gold Stage Poppin’

The festival hosted a slam packed artist lineup which included The Internet, Gallant, Kelela, Flying Lotus, Thundercat and more. There was a lot of rock, a little bit of soul, a dash of rap and everything in between. Being complete fans of The Internet and Flying Lotus, we stayed glued to the Gold Stage at the end of each night to see them both perform and they definitely did not disappoint. Personally, seeing The Internet perform “Penthouse Cloud” was the cherry on the proverbial cake.  Special shoutout to Gallant as well who tore the stage up and let us know exactly why he’s someone we should keep our eye out for. He had incredible energy and was easily one of the best performers from the weekend’s lineup.

Afropunk also offered sounds from a variety of DJs who performed in between each artist set. In continued Gold Stage fashion, the Soulection crew owned the DJ booth and kept the energy of the crowd up and alive.


Slayed to the Gawds

If you aren’t in awe of the artist lineup, then you certainly will be by the fashion. Afropunk is known to attract some of the most breathtaking and glorious outfits. Think tie dye, dashikis, piercings, headpieces and more. Check out some of the outfits spotted at the festival below!


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The festival also hosted black owned vendors, food trucks, art and an area to get involved with community activism.

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All in all, J Street had an incredible time at Afropunk. Being in a space with such beautiful people and  feeling so alive and accepted and loved by complete strangers was just the boost of energy needed to carry us through.

Afropunk 2016

Have any of you all attended Afropunk? Let us know about your experience in the comments down below!

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