Curlfest 2015

Who: Naturalistas

What: Curlfest

Where: Prospect Park

When: Saturday August 29, 2015

Why: Inspiration. Empowerment. Freedom. Beauty. And to show the world that Natural Girls Rock.

To be honest, I wasn’t nervous about going to Curlfest by myself. I knew I would be among pure positivity and maybe going alone would make me more approachable and give me the opportunity to meet new friends. I walked into Prospect Park and saw a girl, who was also alone. She had a head full of beautiful natural hair pulled back by her beats headphones. I tapped her shoulders and asked if she was also looking for Curlfest. Once she said yes, we decided from then on we would be buddies. As we were walking, two gorgeous Latina women with curly hair approached us. They were also looking for Curlfest, so we decided that we could all find it together. #Curlfriends

Curlfest was like a Natural Hair Utopia. There was a sea of beautiful natural women, some with long hair some with short hair, some with braids and some with dreads. Hair, Hair, and more Hair. The first thing we did after getting our goody bag, was shop. There was a bunch of vendors selling everything from vintage clothes to waist beads. There was also a lot of Afrocentric garb and jewelry vendors. Next thing on our list, was the hair vendors. Curlfest had everything from Carols Daughters to Shea Moisture giving out free product samples and hair demos.

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I felt so free. I attended a picnic panel on Protective styling moderated by the owner of Khamit Kinks Salon. I danced to all the latest hip hop songs (and partook in a Soul Train Line), I hula hooped and even got free dating advice specifically catered to natural haired women (which was totally a gimmick but I enjoyed it nonetheless).

I don’t want to get sentimental, but natural hair is such a beautiful thing. For years, I struggled with embracing my natural hair, and that insecurity follows me up until today. But each day that passes by, I love my hair and I love myself even more. Growing up, when you are told that your hair is not beautiful or not accepted it hurts and makes you feel denigrated. However, with events like Curlfest, you are joined by other beautiful, carefree women just like you and you have no choice but to be empowered and inspired. Natural Hair is here to stay and I am thankful for my journey and I am also thankful for the organizers of Curlfest. It’s their second year, but I know this is going to be a huge movement.

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Afro Punk Fest 15′

When I think of Afropunk Fest, I think of FREEDOM! Which is why every summer, I look forward to this event at Commodore Barry Park. Nope, scratch that, I count down the days until this event, that’s how much it means to me. From the first time I attended Afropunk, it made me feel like I belonged somewhere. It represented a bunch of misfits, who dared to be different, coming together to be great! Does this mean we are misunderstood by society? Of course it does, but for one weekend, you are among others just like you and no one, not one person will judge you. I swear, Afropunk is the best place on the planet to people watch. It’s epic. The fashion, the food, and the vendors, are all out of this world fantastic.

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Afro Punk Vendors travelbyky.com kydee williams

This was the first year Afropunk charged a fee ($45 for a one day pass and $75 for a weekend pass) to attend, in the past it’s either been a requested donation or a regular R.S.V.P. I was hesitant at first but soon decided, the performances were worth my money. On Saturday, which was the first day of the festival I caught acts like Sza, Kelis, Ms. Lauryn Hill, and Grace Jones. Sza can sing her butt off. Kelis was fun and pregnant. She engaged the audience and has so many hits that I love—of course she sang the crowd favorite My Milk Shake brings all the boys to the yard. During the intermission, DJ Beverly Bond turned the house down before Lauryn Hill’s performance. Ms. Lauryn Hill’s performance was much anticipated. I spent weeks listening to the Miseducation of Lauryn Hill, reflecting on how amazing of an artist she is. I love her. However, her performance was straight up mediocre. Her voice is no longer the same, her sound was low, she sat down for most of the performance even though it’s a music festival and no one past the first 5 rows could see her. To make matters worst, she sang my favorite song Ex. Factor with a totally different tune and shortly after her sound completely went out. Like completely stopped working. I will credit her for continuing her performance, that’s the testament of a true star. Some people started to boo her and leave, while others, her real fans, wanted her to win so bad, so we stayed there and encouraged her through the rest of her set. She ended her show with Doo Wop (That Thing) and then suddenly dropped the mic and walked off the stage. I was heartbroken. I felt like a child who just found out Santa Claus wasn’t real.

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Afropunk Fest 2015 travelbyky.com

My friends wanted to leave, but I wanted to stay. I’m trying to hold on to as much of summer as I can. I mean I hate the winter, there’s really nothing to do. They eventually decided to stay and I am so happy they did. We watched Grace Jones perform and were recuperated. All of our hearts were no longer pained (after Lauryn). Grace Jones killed the game, killed Afropunk Fest, and just made everything great again. She’s such a talent, and her songs are amazing. Once, I was able to shake my memories of her from Boomerang the movie, I was really able to appreciate her as a true artist. She’s wild dope!

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After Afropunk, we decided to explore Fort Greene. We went to Walters for a small dinner and then Mo’s for drinks and dancing. Overall, it was a great day. Afropunk is so liberating. The perfect end, to an amazing summer.

Walters Restaurant Kydee Williams travelbyky.com

I love you Brooklyn!