For almost a decade, it’s been called ‘The Other Black Experience’, the meeting of the minds, the Black Woodstock and even the greatest music movement of the new millennia, but most just call it AfroPunk! And for the second year in a row, I had the pleasure of connecting with other lovers of culture, fashion and music (Alice Smith’s vocals were amazing…Erykah Badu and the home grown surprise that was Mos Def tore the house down, the fans loved intensity of the Memorials and Janelle Monae’s crowd dive…EPIC! lol) This year’s lineup was just as insane!
Some say it’s a grand tradition…or a rite of passage…or maybe just an awesome night out with friends who’ve made your high school years loads of fun (or dare I say it, maybe just tolerable!); call it what you want, but going off to prom (whether you’re the jock, the cheerleader or the leader of the NACO group) is ALWAYS memorable!! So I was totally excited and honored to see Aysia (whose parents I’ve known since she was a little girl) get all dolled up for a night of fun!! There were corsages, sparkles from head to toe, a stretch limo for the ages (it was in a word: SICK y’all!) handsome young men, beautiful young ladies and magnificent memories to be made! This was also a night to celebrate being young while having the world at your feet! Aysia is off to college this fall and I have no doubt that success is squarely within her sights — you go girl!!
So, today I found myself amongst the swarm of New Yorkers who love satisfying their appetite for art (particularly if its FREE! Score!) and this morsel came in the form of horses!! But not just any horses… These horses are vibrant, whimsical and can drop it like its hot! Missouri sculptor, dancer and performance artist Nick Cave first introduced us to “Soundsuits” almost a decade ago and now there are stepping stallions; namely young dancers from the renowned Alvin Ailey Dance Company in Chicago bringing his vision to life — literally!!
If you want to see this amazing performance, check out them out here:
I am an American. Born and raised in the shadows of rock n’ roll, apple pie and baseball. I learned at a fairly early age while standing in class with my hand over my heart, that I should always “pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America…” and while I am proud to be American and wave the colors of Old Glory (red, white and blue), it should be noted that I am just as proud to wave the colors of La Bandera Typical (also red, white and blue) and to be a Panamanian. It’s not something that many people would instantly know about me, as I don’t walk around with mola bags, caday jewelry or even a Panama t-shirt. And although I may not “look the part”, I am a proud Hispanic whose heritage and ancestry spreads as wide as Jamaica, Barbados, Costa Rica, Portugal and Spain. New York City, and most specifically Brooklyn, is slated to have the second largest Panamanian population in the U.S.
And so, it was on a sun drenched Saturday in October that revelers born in, transplanted from, or just in love with Panama gathered in the Crown Heights section of Brooklyn to celebrate the uniqueness that we represent, at the 17th Annual Pre-Panamanian Independence Parade! Franklin Avenue, between Fulton Street and Empire Boulevard has traditionally been the epicenter of Panamanian-American culture and community and it was here where city and state representatives, singers, beauty queens and marching bands from all across the country (and even some visiting from Panama) put themselves on display for the world stage. Banderas, Polleras, montunos and smiles were widespread during this celebration! The music, the food and the sense of camaraderie were enough to make anyone feel like an honorary Panamanian that day!! But it’s officially today, November 3rd that we celebrate 109 years of independence — Viva Panama!!
This identity goes far beyond where I was born. It goes beyond what people may think they know about Panama — it’s so much more than just a Canal! It is demonstrated in the timbre of my voice, the way I laugh, the way I dance and the way I walk through my life. I am Panama.
New York City is known by many names: “The Big Apple”, “The City That Never Sleeps” and the “The Capital of the World” are only a few that describe this ever changing Metropolis…but I just call it home!
I love this city! The hustle and bustle, the energy and the sense of community that’s all around me (New York often gets a bad rap by suggesting that it’s every man for himself here. But when we’re called upon, it’s amazing how we band together!) This melting pot known for it’s yellow cabs, Broadway lights and the best bagels anywhere, came together in droves on Monday for the 45th Annual West Indian Day Parade!! There was a rainbow of flags being waved, enough jewels and glitter to make any fashionista blush, people who danced to the beat of their own drum (most notably a photographer who happily walked around topless and was willing to pose for pictures — all in plain sight of the fuzz! And a colorful character who referred to himself as Lady Gaga’s Grandma!) and smiles and laughter that were infectious! This celebration of the unofficial end of summer is one of the biggest parties in Brooklyn, reveling in heritage and cultural pride (I’m proud to represent El Puente del Mundo –¡Viva Panama!) lavish costumes, awesome food and music that will make you whine, bacchanal and jump up and wave!! Even I couldn’t help but get in on the fun! (Thanks for the candid snaps, Mr. Mathias!)
So if you ask anyone at the parade, the census would be that this colorful annual spectacle brings Caribbean culture to life in the most ornate, jubilant and thrilling of ways! So, grab your flag, represent proudly and jump up and wave!!!