A mood, featuring one of the many well-dressed partygoers at Harlem Haberdashery’s Fifth Annual Masquerade Ball
Photo: David Richards (MJP Paparazzi)
AntisocialThe society column for people afraid of society, written by The Root's Editor-in-Chief and resident Bipolar Disorder expert/sufferer.  

I’m back, Antisocialites!

After spending most of the winter trying to both not freeze outdoors and not die from the sauna that is my radiator-heated apartment, I have to say, I really didn’t go to any parties. Oh, I went out on the rare occasion, but my social life (and this column about my social life) got totally neglected the minute gala season ended in favor of things like:

  1. sleep
  2. wearing the same horrible sweater and leggings every other day for practically a month with no makeup while my hair simply gave up on life
  3. giving this speech at the Women’s March in Roanoke, Va.
  4. being on 1,001 panels between MLK Day and the entirety of Black History Month
  5. fighting off the winter blues as seasonal affective disorder kicked my ass all over January

But I survived and so has Antisocial, the society column for people afraid of society because they have a social anxiety disorder they’re working through. I’m getting better! So much better. Success is unveiling right in front of our eyes. I totally had conversations with people and everything. My mouth, eyes and lips all moved in nonawkward ways. It was a miracle!


Harlem Haberdashery has made quite the name for itself.

A retail shop selling custom-made apparel by label 5001 Flavors, it suits and boots everyone from celebrities to athletes to your fashionable John and Jane Doe next door. And because the shop is so eclectic in its mix of styles, it was only natural that everyone came dressed not just to impress but to shock and awe at their Fifth Annual Masquerade Ball, dubbed “A Royal Ball,” Saturday, March 3, at the legendary Riverside Church in New York City.

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The “royalty” who showed up for the shindig must have just come from Wakanda because not only was there a well-dressed man clad in a Black Panther mask slinking about the room—there was a slew of people either dressed in African wax prints or posing in their finest while throwing up the “X” for “Wakanda forever.”

Or in this case, as Bevy Smith would say—Harlem forever.

Harlem forever!
Photo: David Richards (MJP Paparazzi)

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Nearly 300 folks showed up for the festivities, which benefited the nonprofit #TakeCareOfHarlem and celebrated the achievements of three individuals: Page Six TV personality Bevy Smith, Margarette Purvis of Food Bank for New York City and Michael J. Garner of 100 Black Men.

Smith couldn’t make the event (she had to cover the Oscars out in Hollywood, Calif., for Page Six TV), but she did send a video of her happily throwing up the X, then announcing proudly, “Harlem forever!” to the cheers of those in attendance. Purvis and Garner both spoke on what Harlem meant to them in their acceptance speeches.

Sharene Wood, the president and CEO of 5001 Flavors and Harlem Haberdashery, alongside Kells Barnett, the founder of #TakeCareOfHarlem, presented during the gala, where Crown Royal donated $5,000 to support the nonprofit’s 2018-2019 programming.

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Other sponsors for the evening included the New York Post/Page Six TV, Radio 103.9FM, along with community partners Fresh Direct, NiLu, Doc’s Cake Shop (that banana pudding was boss), Eyrnn Henderson, Harlem Shake, LoLo’s Seafood Shack, Papi Wines and Row House.

After spending an obscene amount of time getting ready to make myself look like a human being after being a hobbit for months, I met up with my dear friend Sophia Chang—and her famed Gucci bucket hat—for a night of toe-tapping to DJ Olivia Dope while sipping the chosen liquor sponsor of the evening, Crown Royal (of which I only had two drinks because I didn’t want to pass out—Chang, a legend, only had water).

Danielle Belton and her good friend, a woman “raised by Wu-Tang,” Sophia Chang, in the photo booth at Harlem Haberdashery’s Fifth Annual Masquerade Ball on March 3, 2018
Photo: Danielle Belton (The Bosco)

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Clad in an embroidered dress via Asos with hair done, nails done, everything did, the only thing that stressed me out slightly was my hair, which was damp, a thing I totally hate about having natural hair in the winter. But I survived. We got there a little early and the room took a moment to fill up, but once it did? Fashion. Beautiful people. Everywhere.

Unlike previous outings in this column where I either almost died choking on cold medication or almost died from exhaustion, I’m proud to report no anxiety or weirdness was to be had. It was almost as if I was finally getting used to the glittery ball gown set.

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Still, I was glad I brought a friend with me for two reasons:

  1. Sophia is an excellent dancing partner.
  2. I knew all of two people there.

Clearly, I need to get uptown more often (or at least so say my team members at The Root who live uptown), as the downtown party set had gotten so predictable that I was literally seeing the same dozen or more folks at every party for months. It was refreshing to see so many new, beautiful, fun faces while Olivia Dope (who also deejayed our gala last November) threw on “Wobble.”

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Sidenote: Please don’t take my black card, but I have no clue how to Wobble. The dance craze totally missed me back in 2008 when I’m pretty sure I was going through my “starving blogger just trying not to die” phase in my parents’ basement in St. Louis.

But I promise. One of these days. I’m going to learn.