If you’ve ever been to New Orleans during Essence Festival weekend, you can’t deny the enormous surge of black pride and honor the flows through you as one walks around town. From the Convention Center to the Superdome, all the corners bent in between, the energy around you is Black Excellence. Over the years, Essence Festival has expanded from music and entertainment to everything black people are, what we do, everything we create, all the things that make us in the eyes of others “magic.” What we loved more than anything this time around was the expansion of events as well as the networking and collaborations outside of the normal dwellings of the festival itself. We knew people would be all over the city. Black Men With Beards had a mission, and that was to receive and tell the experience of Essence Fest 2017 from the people moving about the streets and get genuine collective accounts from others. We launched a full on street campaign with crew beating the pavement. We randomly approached as many bearded brothers we could find and got their take not only on the festival, their enjoyment, and of course the beard; but we really wanted to know from the men - What that beard do? Let’s just say we made a lot of new friends, no one was shy and all were #BMWBApproved.
In addition to our street campaign, BMWB were invited guests and presenters at the 2nd Annual Nola Nobles Dandy Affair. Our VP had the prestigious honor of co-hosting with famed comedian Michael Colyar during The Beard and Barber showcase. Seeing all the dapper clad gentleman and their glorious beards coupled with all the brotherhood flowing through the Ace Hotel was refreshing. It was an honor to highlight some of the best barbers New Orleans has to offer.
We wrapped our weekend by engaging in all the glory that goes down in the Convention Center and ended the night attending the Essence Festival concert, where we witnessed some historical moments in music, like the reunion of Xscape. Thousands upon thousands of people shut down the 3rd floor of the Superdome in hopes to see Kandi, Tiny, Tamika and LaTocha, but the capacity of the super lounge was reached within minutes of the ladies taking the stage. We were lucky enough to catch them right after the performance in the press room - and we can't forget about some of the others we met, like June's Dairy, Shaggy, Chante Moore, Tweet, and the list goes on.
Sunday night was like a breather to a whirlwind of non-stop engagement over those last few days. As we enjoyed views from the floor with the who's who and what's what in everything major, it hit me - this is the true "essence" of Essence, the people. Not just those who are famous or recognizable, each and every single person partaking in the entire experience of Essence and the spirit of New Orleans. We witnessed girl gang bonding, black love, brotherly camaraderie and the pure enjoyment of dope bonds and friendship. We can't wait for next year!