Every year like clockwork, the ultimate young black reunion takes place on the lawns of Commodore Barry Park in Brooklyn, as all the stylish friends you wish you had come out stunting in their bright, bold, and very unapologetically black street style, ready to mosh and sway the hot evenings away.
This year was no different—I arrived already sweaty and kind of over it, but my heart instantly warmed marveling at the black girl, boy, non-binary, queer and utterly confident looks of the weekend.
AfroPunk—a celebration of the “other black experience”—was created in Brooklyn in 2005 for the off-kilter, stud-wearing, black punk rock-head. But the festival since has evolved and morphed into something different, as more groups wanted in on the celebration. As the commercialization of the festival has grown—and publications have been pouring in to see what new trends will be on display for the rest of the planet to catch up to in coming seasons—the festival has become less about mohawks and chains and more about fluffy curls and face paint.
The diversity of black people is incredible, and within the gates of AfroPunk 2018, it was as if I could look out into one of the crowds and spot a bit of everything. It was both a reunion and a rock-out, an Afrocentric celebration and a study of color. This year, the festival-goers were more diverse in age, more mainstream in taste, and packed shoulder-to-shoulder, a difference from my first time in 2016.
Nonetheless, the larger-than-life costume-wearing attendees had clearly dressed for the occasion. Swarms of photographers surrounded them, capturing their dramatic flowers, patterns and elaborate braid styles. Those who chose the low-key route were naturally glowing, some with mismatched patterns, sporty two-pieces, and bold makeup everywhere. But EVERYONE was kind, passing out compliments and smiles. Despite the humidity and long lines, no one looked as if they wished they were anywhere else.
Day One’s colorful, Africa-inspired, mainstream style suited the lineup, featuring top artists like Miguel, Lion Babe, H.E.R. and producer-sensation Kaytranada. Swaying in the hot wind were large groups of friends and ducked-off lovers, all a bit overheated but nonetheless having fun.
Day Two brought out a bit more of the original spirit of the fest, with noticeably more vintage punk-inspired and alternative rock fits. The leather, piercings, black clothing and more edgy body paint brought a new energy to the park, most likely because of the fiery lineup for the day—rock band Fuck U Pay Us, Denzel Curry, Born ‘N Bread, Pusha T and of course, Tyler, The Creator all rocked the mic.
AfroPunk veteran and everybody’s favorite spiritual auntie Erykah Badu took us all to church as the ending headliner on Sunday night. The energy was immaculate, and as everybody stood before her red-moon lights, she reminded us of our power, and the innate beauty that AfroPunk is all about. After two long hot days, I now have an overload of ideas for my next few hairstyles—and that fall shopping trip I’ve been postponing.
Until next year, AP!