Editor Tessa Ndjonkou introduces you to the spaces that celebrate Black identity all-year round by fostering a community and reinventing the night out.
Black identities need celebrating beyond Black History Month. The Dublin nightlife scene has understood the assignment, as there are several collectives whose aim is to provide a safe space for people of color to enjoy a night out whilst simultaneously celebrating their identities.
Blacktones Open Mic
Blackness is not a monolith. It never has been. DCU graduate Esther A-Fatoye has risen to the challenge of showing all the varieties when she created Blacktones, an open mic night that has become so much more. The monthly event was made by Black people with Black people in mind. She clarifies: “Everyone is welcome but in terms of the voices we want to amplify, Black and Brown people are the focus.” A-Fatoye, who is familiar with the Dublin open-mic circuit, headed into Blacktones with clear intent: “Blacktones was always meant to be more than an open mic. We are a community and an organization dedicated to the promotion of Black voices and Black art.” From spoken word poetry, diary entries to songs, Blacktones welcomes and accommodates all forms of expression for members of the diaspora to express their unique experience. Inspired by her mentor, Nigerian-born writer and performing artist Samuel Yakura, A-Fatoye set out to create a space for expression where she no longer was “the only one” in the room. When I ask her to define the space she has created and the environment she has fostered, Esther A-Fatoye, wise beyond her years, gives me a conspiratory grin, tilts her chin high and says: “Community. Poetic… and Blackitty-Black.”
Haus of Schiaparelli
“Let’s ki” reads the Instagram account of the Haus of Schiaparelli, the establishment behind the new inclusive ball where queer people from all around Dublin, can gather to “feel their fantasy.” Understand: “Let’s dance, let’s celebrate.” The father of the first ball of season, Tino Wekare, stresses the importance of having an intersectional space to ensure that queer people of color can exist and be joyous away from microaggressions they might find in the wider Dublin queer scene. Greatly inspired by Bridgerton’s very own Lady Danbury, the Haus of Schiaparelli plans to inaugurate the queer social scene for every new season. Royalty, opulence and luxury are reappropriated by a community that is often materially and systemically dispossessed of them. Wekare cites “Pantoflare” and “Afro Flare” as the bedrock of this initiative, a commitment to aesthetic made clear by visual artist Emma’s artistry (@emman_a). Wekare also mentions the importance of having a space specifically dedicated to the expression of queer people of color: “It’s from our marginalisation that we keep that ethos.” The Haus offers a space full of healthy competition within a supportive environment which does much more to foster community than the injunction for perfection. The joy of being seen as an equal by your peers is the priceless experience the Haus has invested in. So come ki.