Curlfest! A Full On #BlackGirlMagic Experience

Flashback To Curlfest 2018 With Natural Hair Enthusiast Jasmine Lee

Flashback to Curlfest 2018

5 years ago (in 2013), the
Curly Girl Collective started the first annual CurlFest. In short, CurlFest is Essence Festival and Coachella all wrapped in one where you will get a multitude of unapologetic blackness, funky outfits, music, and food. Each year the event has been jam-packed with natural haired men and women from all over the world. These men and women arrive donning beautifully coiffed hair and outfits that celebrate their unique style and personality. And guess who got to go this year? ME! (And my family).


WELCOME TO NEW YORK CITY

On Saturday, July 21rst, 2018 I was in Prospect Park in Brooklyn, New York ready to be a part of the culture where all shades, shapes, and sizes celebrated their different textures of curls, coils, and locs. With excitement seeping through my bones during both the planning process and the entire plane ride to New York City, I realized that my travel companions and I totally neglected to put together a daily itinerary once we landed which means lessons were going to be learned. Granted it was the first time that I, my two sisters, our mom, niece, and younger sister’s best friend have ever been to New York. Out time there was limited, so I wanted to make sure that we (more like myself) got the FULL experience. Granted the whole purpose of traveling to the Big Apple was CurlFest but I wanted to see what "The Concrete Jungle" as made of. But that wasn’t going to be this weekend because the sights and sounds of the mecca of natural hair all inside CurlFest were calling my name. 


HISTORIC FLATBUSH AVENUE

I entered Prospect Park from Flatbush Avenue. Flatbush Avenue is a major avenue in the New York City Borough of Brooklyn. It runs from the Manhattan Bridge south-southeastward to Jamaica Bay, where it joins the Marine Parkway–Gil Hodges Memorial Bridge. This bridge connects Brooklyn to the Rockaway Peninsula in Queens. This street took us down a long road lined with trees leading to the actual festival was. For those that may stray from their group like I did, don’t worry. Although the park has lots of trails where someone could snatch you, you’ll be surrounded by at least 15-20 other people who are walking down the same path so you’re good. When I finally arrived to the festival, I had to take a moment to take it all in.

IN TOTAL AWE
There were so many people and so many colors - outfits and hairstyles in one centralized place. I immediately felt underdressed in my distressed mom jeans, white tank, and colorful African print headwrap, but that feeling went away once I took in all of the good aura.


Side Note
Now, prior to the event, we purchased the $30 silver package tickets that came with a tote full of goodies on the Curly Girl Collective website. Customers were advised that tickets were needed for entry. When I arrived at the park no one was collecting tickets nor monitoring the entrance. I walked around for about 10 or 15 minutes before asking someone. I was told in order to get the tote, I'd have to travel outside of the main event, past the line of food trucks to the lines in order to claim it.

LONG LINES DESPITE TICKETS
Long Lines For Food
This is one of the lines for the Silver tickets. Eventually, almost all of the lines were for the silver tickets as those were the ones that most people seemed to have. It took me about 30 minutes to get through this line, which of course sucked. Everyone in line with me shared that sentiment with many of them upset that they purchased a ticket in the first place since the part of the park where the event was held was not completely barricaded and you could come and go as you pleased.
Lesson #1
You don’t need a ticket to enter CurlFest. Or at least, you didn’t need one this year (in 2018). You really just paid for the bag and whatever came in it. I didn’t mind because I got a blanket, cup, and a cute tote, but it would have been nice if they made that a separate thing to commemorate your time.

CELEBRITY CITING!
Once I finally got through the line, I ventured back into the main part of the festival. Shelah Marie and Ace Hood were supposed to be there, so I went to the main stage to make sure that I got a chance to see them. Turns out, they weren’t on the main stage and I completely missed them, but that was okay because I got to meet Khadeen!


Khadeen and Natural Hair Enthusiast Jasmine


If you don’t know who Khadeen (@khadeeniam) and Devale (@iamdevale) are, please report to Instagram ASAP. They’re a Brooklyn couple with a beautiful love story and an even more beautiful family that came from that love story. Plus, they’re super funny. Meeting Khadeen was a stroke of luck and it was all because I found a great spot by the stage where I could see anyone that was up there pretty well, but I was also right next to where the BET photo backdrop and the (I’m guessing) VIP area was. She was there as well as a number of other curly heads that I follow on social media. I snagged this pic of Broderick Hunter while standing there.

Broderick Hunter
EVERYONE, EVERYWHERE
There are a ton of different vendors. Many of the natural hair YouTubers that I follow were there and everyone was spread out. It doesn’t help that you get ZERO services while in the park. I honestly don’t remember whether or not it was stated exactly where Shelah and Ace were going to be, but I think that if the organizers were to put out a paper itinerary for next year or a digital one that you can screenshot, that would be helpful.

Lesson #2

Make sure you always know exactly where the people you want to see are going to be (if possible).



HBCU-LIKE EXPERIENCE
That is pretty much where I stayed my entire time there. The DJs were both on point and the crowd was bursting with energy. They went full-on HBCU at one moment with a band performance complete with majorettes and a swag surf. For a girl that went to a PWI and wanted badly to dance for Alabama State, it was EVERYTHING. The only thing that would have made it better would have been experiencing it with my friends (because I knew my family wasn’t coming in that crowd), so I’m excited to return with them next year.



FOOD TRUCKS EVERYWHERE
As I stated before, my time in New York, but specifically CurlFfest was short-lived. Once I finally got a hold of my younger sister, I made my way to the food trucks and spotted her and my her friend in line. Eventually,, my older sister, niece, and mom all met. They proclaimed that the food truck line was way too long considering they had been waiting in it for about an hour and still hadn’t made it to the front. So, everyone ended up ordering from the same line. They sat and ate, we walked through the crowd a bit to look at some of the vendors, and then we left. 
Lesson #3
Pray that it is better organized with food next time.
My older sister and niece.



INSIDER TIPS
First, the event is massive, so getting there early is a MUST. That is how you get in and out of line for both your purchased bag (if you buy one) and the different vendors for their free bags. Second, eat before you come. The food truck lines are a mile long. Third, bring water. It got cooler as the day went on, but at first, it was really hot and there is no place to buy water unless you have access to the Chill Zone (upper-level tickets) or you wait in a food truck line. Fourth, try to be with someone that has a hot spot because when I say there was no service, there was NOTHING. At such a big event, that can really interfere with your day if you get separated from someone. Fifth, be prepared to get stopped for photos. My sister got stopped multiples times and the professional photos look really nice. She was able to get them off of the photographer’s Instagram. Sixth, be ready to have fun and be bathed in #BlackGirlMagic.





INCREDIBLE EXPERIENCE
Overall, I believe that Curl Fest is an incredible event. It brings together people of all different colors and backgrounds and from all different places to celebrate the beauty of natural hair. All of the different shades of skin, textures of hair, and colorful outfits are a sight to see, and I cannot wait to return next year! I will be able to hit up the variety of vendors that were there, snap pics with my favorite YouTubers and get a chance to turn up in front of the stage with the rest of the crowd. If you haven’t already, be sure to follow the Curly Girl Collective on Instagram @curlygirlcollective and check out the #CurlFest2018 hashtag on both Twitter and Instagram to see pics of this year’s event. You can also keep up with information in preparation for next year’s event by visiting www.curlygirlcollective.com. You won’t want to miss it!

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