Ladies dancing to the music
Living in a world where Black bodies are constantly under attack, respite is always welcomed. Whether it be social groups in schools or within your community, it is important to have those moments where you feel safe, and where your individuality is celebrated. In my life, I seek out these types of experiences, and one that I can now add to my list is Curl Fest.
Curls and Italian ices
Now in its second year, Curl Fest is the brain child of the Curly Girl Collective, an experiential marketing group that specializes in multicultural beauty. I first became familiar with the collective a few years back through mutual friends, and received notice of the inaugural Curl Fest last spring. I was bummed that I did not make it out that time, so when I received the invite for this year, my eyes lit up.
Held this year on August 29th at the Neathermead in Brooklyn’s Prospect Park, the event was the ultimate celebration of natural beauty.
Two of a kind
On the sun-filled afternoon, natural-haired beauties beamed in the park and had the opportunity to mingle with their curl friends, and enjoy unique hair-themed activations. Sounds were provided by my girl, and one of my favorite DJs, Tiff McFierce. Styling stations were set up to primp all textures of locs, haircare lines were in tow for demos, and natural hair influencers were available to chat with attendees about their experience.
A hint of violet
Adding to the excitement was a full marketplace with fashion, accessory, and literary vendors. Beverages were also on hand to cool everyone off in the 90 degree weather. I was in the house serving double duty; covering for my blog as well as interviewing various attendees for a larger team project (that I will reveal at a later date). One thing that I noticed from the jump that did not change; everyone was in good spirits, and everyone felt like family.
In my chats with my fellow attendees, never did I feel like someone was judging me. I did not feel any negative energy in regards to my appearance or the way I spoke, everyone seemed very warm and open to chat with me. I hugged and joked around with women whom I had met for the first time that day. I danced in a circle with the women behind Curly Girl Collective, and everyone present. I connected with people, majority Black women, in a completely organic way.
Do you understand how important that is?
Mother & daughter
To be in a public park in the inner-city on one of the hottest days in the summer without being harassed because of the length of my shorts? To be surrounded by fellow Black women and receive hugs instead of side eyes (*Note: this doesn’t happen to me much, but that’s what mass media & reality TV try to shove down our throats)? To feel completely free for that moment of my life? That’s a huge deal.
To say Curl Fest was a gathering of “carefree Black girls” is an understatement. I would say this is true, but I would add that it truly felt like the grounds for building a sisterhood. Men were present in smaller numbers, but women were at the forefront here, and that is what made it so beautiful.
Squad photo to end off a lovely day
My afternoon ended with the above squad photo, of friends new and old. Can you tell which ones I’ve known for years and which I met that day? Maybe that was a rhetorical question, but I hope it is not so easy to tell as we truly welcomed everyone with open arms, and that alone is where the beauty beyond the physical lies.
*All photos by Jason Chandler