This past weekend saw the return of AFROPUNK to London, following the festival's inaugural London event in 2016.
For over 14 years, AFROPUNK has been defining culture in the music world; a triumph of multiculturalism, diversity and championing all races, genders, colours, creeds and tastes. Each year, AFROPUNK unites over 85,000 people across their festivals, and another 10,000 at events.
If you read my previous post, you'll know I was uber excited for my first AFROPUNK and I'm please to say that it did not disappoint.
The festival took place in Printworks, a groundbreaking new event space with a capacity of 6,000 in South London. The event was previously held at Alexandra Palace and although I can’t comment on its suitability, I can say that Printworks was the perfect venue. It had a dark, unpolished and yet sleek design which complimented the festival well and helped to create a chilled, laid back atmosphere. It was large and yet still felt cosy.
The sheer volume of space allowed for two separate stages across two floors. I was quite taken aback by just how large and versatile the space was. In addition to the stages, there were seating areas, large colourful portraits, the Spinthrift Market and an outdoor area where you could get food from a number of vendors. Needless to say, each area had its own bar to keep people refreshed.
The festival has previously been criticised for no longer catering for a truly punk audience and I can see why based on my experience. Although it wasn’t purely punk rock, you could definitely feel the punk influences throughout.
The festival showcased an eclectic range of music which, as expected, was amazing! I attended the event on Sunday and I was not only able to see some well known acts like Nao and Willow Smith, but I also got the opportunity to hear music from artists who were completely new to me.
Nao’s set was a highlight for me. Not only were her vocals flawless but her interaction with the crowd was intimate and honest. Her band was equally fantastic and played a pivotal role in elevating the crowd. I reckon it would have been almost impossible for anyone not to spend her whole set dancing like we all (or at least I do) in our bedrooms. Other musical highlights for me were hearing music from the Blackfish Collective and dancing like my life depended on it to the various DJ sets on the day.
One of the unique selling points of AFROPUNK is the promise of a safe space where black people are free to express themselves in all their wonderful blackness and the diversity that it brings. This was exhibited in the AFROPUNK fashion. The venue was full of colourful prints, even more colourful hair and tribal body paint which you could get done on site from a number of talented artists. Naturally, I had to get involved too.
Perhaps most surprisingly, I found AFROPUNK to be quite a successful shopping experience. Although I had been aware of the Spinthrift Market, I really hadn’t appreciated the variety of products and vendors that would be on site. Possibly my favourite purchases were the cards I got from Dorcas Creates and Kazvare Made It. How fabulous are they?!
And as if that wasn't enough, the lovely ladies from MAC were giving out FREE Ruby Woo lipsticks and lip liners as the official makeup sponsor of AFROPUNK - Win!
Overall, my first AFROPUNK experience was wonderful. I enjoyed the music, food, art and shopping but possibly what I enjoyed most was being around other likeminded black people and feeling like, for once, I was in the majority!