Names and details have been changed to act like I am protecting the identity of family and friends but we all know I’m not.
This was the first time I made an effort to attend Essence. Although I grew up in New Orleans, Essence weekend has always been a headache for locals. The influx of nearly every African American woman, unfortunate husbands and boyfriends, cat daddies, and a couple of lost colonizers results in traffic and price gouging so we always left town. I made a few attempts several years ago but it was hot AF so I swore to never return during the months of July and August yet there I was but the weather was not impossible thanks to a few showers.
I am not sure of the details but the cousins group chat spilled over into a fake-ass Girls Trip. We lost a few cousins so it was just the four of us. No, they are not dead but didn’t attend for reasons that are none of your business. Due to my cousins wanting an authentic experience, we did everything but Essence (but you already knew that because it’s the title of this post). We saw one panel featuring Amanda Seales, Tichina Arnold, Tisha Campbell-Martin, and Kym Whitley, spent a ton of time trying to find the Read’s booth, browsing stages where we saw Mary J. Blige and Fonzworth Bentley, and passing tons of vendors. Essence requires more than the weekend. You need time to tour the city, get the energy necessary to attend the panels and performances, check out the night life and recuperate (which I haven’t since I returned to a sick child and husband; thereby, resulting in me being sick).
We ate and drunk all weekend; most notably, Cafe Du Monde, Superior Seafood (where I learned about non-binary gender and valet kept bringing me the wrong car), Ruby Slipper (where Kofi Siriboe stood us up, he was invited via twitter), Deanie’s Seafood (where we received terrible service for the first time ever but the tip was already included so they didn’t give a damn), 30/90, and District Donuts.
Listed on my Bucket List and something I’ve been trying to see for three years is the Read Live! This is the very first podcast I started listening to and still my favorite. We arrived during the pre-show to a podcast we aren’t familiar with but who I was familiar with was their guest: Big Freedia, the Queen Diva (you already knoooow, girl down). If you don’t know who she is, google. I don’t have time for your foolishness.
As expected, Freedia gave us a twerk session and asked for volunteers. This is the moment I’ve been preparing for since giving birth. I twerk at least once a day and felt that I was ready to perform on stage when she asked for volunteers so there I was, next to Freedia, throwing it in a circle… in my head. There is no way I am going to shake my mommy ass in public so you guys can upload it to your Snapchat or whatever mediums you millennials use.
According to one of my cousins, their live episode is available and I’m wondering if I will be able to hear myself ask Crissle to let Meghan ask a question. I take full responsibility for the positive impact she’s going to make on white America. Each one teach one.
We also saw Dustin, Fran and Assante which was a nice treat since I also listen to their podcast, the Friend Zone.
We did a little shopping on Bayou Road where there is a string of black-owned businesses. I bought a book and pins from Community Book Center, another pin from Material Life and a cupcake from Cupcake Fairies.
We shopped in the French Quarters where I bought Pyrite studs from NOLA Rock Co and a T-shirt and onesie from Kitchen Ink which illustrates to Jacksonians I will always be a New Orleanian as if they don’t already know, as if they care.
We drove through Uptown, the Garden District, City Park, and I took the cousins to the Lakefront. Speaking of the French Quarters, I finally got the chance to see my best friend since childhood perform at 30/90. Please follow Sierra Green & the Soul Machine and see her live instead of jumping on the bandwagon later on. I mean, I’m sure she’ll still take your money but I’m just saying.
Other notable experiences include my lesbian cousins dressing alike opposed to the required skank-wear, cousins falling asleep every time they get in the car like newborns, my cousin’s feet being entirely too close to my face (we had an abundance of space), my cousin getting out of my car and telling Pickup Truck Patrick to stop blocking the hotel parking lot because he was causing traffic and you guessed it, he did not move. There were other activities we shall not speak of *stares*
We are already talking about attending next year but it will most definitely require me taking several days of vacation and actually attending Essence. I didn’t take a ton of pictures, that’s not my ministry. You can check out several on Instagram, you’re welcome.