Libras are extra.
A while back I wrote an entire column justifying my love of “nice shit.” And that was such a Libra thing to do. Because while we are natural diplomats, crave balance and are creative types, we also love beauty and, most importantly, ourselves. (We definitely think we are quite beautiful. *stares in Narcissus*) So, of course, activist, preacher, former presidential candidate, and MSNBC personality Rev. Al Sharpton threw a 65th birthday party worthy of Bacchus in New York City Thursday night.
The event happened at the historic New York Public Library on Fifth Avenue during the drizzling rain, where Sharpton celebrated “another chapter” in his life with a star-studded gala, featuring friends and dignitaries like actors Samuel L. Jackson and Robert De Niro, director Spike Lee, MSNBC’s Joy-Ann Reid, Korey Wise of the Exonerated Five, Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), and NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio. The event, which everyone talked quite loudly throughout, featured a video praising Sharpton throughout his years of preaching, fighting, and preaching while fighting in a tracksuit with a fresh blowout, while also being a political figure, a true New Yorker, and a civil rights leader.
The video was occasionally punctuated by folks telling people to shut up, but nobody really did. They talked through the video, and throughout the speeches (including de Blasio’s remarks). Nothing was going to stop the party, not even the birthday boy telling people to pipe down.
Sharpton and his crew were stationed high above the noisy fray in a VIP area at the top of the stairs in the library, where he was phalanxed by the aforementioned celebs, media, activists and political figures deigned worthy enough to not fight it out with the rest of us over the free bellinis, open bar, and abundance of Cipriani-catered food offered to us below.
I was invited as a guest of fashion designer Aisha McShaw, Sharpton’s longtime girlfriend, who is a friend of mine, and spent most of the evening with my homies: my ace, former music executive and author, Sophia Chang; iconic brand manager Marvet Britto; and, one of my favorite people in the whole wide world, attorney/general counsel for Wilhemina Models, Marilee Fiebig Holmes. (Fun fact: Marilee is married to my former boss, Good Morning America’s T. J. Holmes. I was head writer of his old late-night talk show on BET back in 2012. T.J. was also there to celebrate “Rev.”)
As someone who is planning their own October birthday soiree (I turn 25 for the umpteenth time next Tuesday), and is in the middle of finalizing a November 21 gala for our annual list of the most influential African Americans under 45, The Root 100, I could learn a lot from the good reverend’s party-throwing skills. Like, for one, get someone else to pay for it, plan it and throw it, so you can just show up with your hair pressed and no stress. There’s nothing like an opulent affair you literally only have to roll up to, rock a step n’ repeat while fresh-to-death, and bask in the glow of your own excellence while surrounded by hundreds of your closest friends, contemporaries and colleagues, with DJ D-Nice spinning some James Brown in the background.
Typical of Libra-ass me, I took only one photo at the gala (a selfie in the dark) as I was too busy socializing and forgot to whip out the Samsung, but did do an entire lengthy photoshoot in my apartment with my camera phone tripod because nothing says “I love me” like taking 1,697 pictures of you in a black lace top and a velvet Johnny Was kimono from two seasons ago.
I say all this to say, gala season in New York is back and so is Antisocial, my society column for people afraid of society. This is the first post of many. Let’s hit the open bar of anxiety together!