Afropunk “Nightclubbing” @ Ally Pally London 24-09-16
The Soul Survivors Magazine was cordially invited to attend the Afropunk festival at Ally Pally aka Alexandra Palace in Hornsey North London. Not having attended before I had to do some research and acknowledged that the name suggests like Ron Seal that this gig does what it says on the tin. Although on arrival it was quite a mixed cosmopolitan audience, it was very noticeable that many of the younger generation were a very trendy and enthusiastically dressed one of the Diaspora persuasion. For a moment seeing so many in their varied fashion attire it smacked of the early 1977 Punk era that was predominantly Caucasian here in the UK, who frequented London’s Kings Road, Camden High Street and Oxford Street. I was mightly impressed and felt like I blended in with the wallpaper camouflage of dedicated followers of fashion, with my bikers jacket, black kilt and calf length double buckle militant boots..Phew!! I saw a few old school faces from 35 years back but mainly an audience that dressed to thrill and “Dance To The Music” like Sly & The Family Stone in an indoor Woodstock ambience.
There are no prejudice boundaries so people come as they dare straight or gay, black and white who unite and fight for the freedom of expression. There was no attitude as the media portrays negatively when such a gathering collate in an organised auditorium, just pure Incognito “Smiling Faces” and a mission to “Dance Dance Dance” like Chic. In between the performing acts the Dj’s were playing some current lowdown hip and RNB beats alongside some classic late 1990’s and early 2000 club classics, that took me ‘Back into time’ like Jimmy Castor. The fashion stalls were amazing with some talented individuals advertising and selling they wares. There were three arena’s and the first major main act I saw who filled the room was Laura Mvula.
I’m not pretending to know her music but the audience seem to be getting off on it and she embraced them like a mother would her baby in her arms. The highlight for me was getting close to the front stage in the main outside arena to see the girl from Spanish Town in Jamaica, who could make you “Cry Now, Laugh Later”. 40 years in the business “Ladies And Gentleman Miss Grace Jones” was awesome. She was certainly worth waiting for and with her vast catalogue she opened with the mammoth dub monster produced by Sly & Robbie from the titled album “Night Clubbing”. My gosh it sounded monstrous and Grace showing a bit of “Nipple To The Bottle” with her painted afrocentric artwork body was more commanding the Queen Elizabeth.
Breathtaking show with plenty of costume changes and professional equilibrium was on offer from the starting gate as she went through a blistering set of her incredible repertoire. Being a fan and having played her music over my 30 years of Dj-ing I was not sure what she would do…but was not “Sorry” in the least that she did “My Jamaican Guy”. With Don-E on the keyboard stabs and a very tighter than spray jeans band, Grace showcased her “Portfolio” of fashion, art, dance and music to the delight of her “The Apple Stretching” fans. Grace’s interaction was humorous and personal as well as entertaining. Never one to shy away from shock culture, Grace’s athletically built male pole dancer in ‘Nuthin But A G String Baby’ and a simulated painted body added to an already incredible show. His strength on the pole doing vertical poses and climbing the pole like Spiderman was impressive, and Grace showed no shame in cavorting erotically with him having a good “Feel Up” as she sang the appropriately titled “Pull Up To The BUMper”.
Fantastic show and everyone I’m guessing was happy to be a “Slave To The Rhythm” of Miss Grace Jones’s captivating performance. I must say huge thanks to Don-E for arranging for myself and Soul Survivors IT and photographer consultant extraordinaire Anna B to have five minutes with Grace Jones in her dressing room. She was very gracious and was happy when I gave her the copies of the Prince and Muhammed Ali specials of The Soul Survivors Magazine. It truly was a case of “Ladies And Gentlemen: Miss Grace Jones” has entered the building!! #Afropunk#afropunklondon