My first time at Essence was amazing even though I didn’t really stay for the vendors or workshops like I thought I would do. Friday evening from 5p-6p, I literally ran out of work and drove through 40 minutes of traffic to attend the Mielle Pop-Up Shop. In my last blog post, I announced that I’m transitioning to natural hair and wanted to try her products out first. Unbeknownst to me, there was a buy one get one free sale happening all weekend, plus there was wine to sip on while I shopped. I purchased four of her products for $20 (I’ll blog about my reviews once I use the products). The owner, Monique Rodriquez is a radiant woman who was graciously engaging with her customers, while we shopped.
Earlier Saturday morning, I started my day about 8am, I enjoyed a cup of coffee at Cafe’ Du Monde and then walked over to the convention center to the Essence Festival. There was a dj that played music right at the entrance into the expo, that’s how you know you were at a black girls rock event. This was my first time attending Essence Festival so I only had plans to attend the panel discussions and none of the concerts. We all post videos of concerts on social media so I figured I’d just watch for free on Instagram like everyone else.
The problem was, I saw quickly that I was NOT about to stand in those extremely long lines just to look at, sample or purchase products or possibly meet a celebrity at the mainstream booths. I instantly thought of those long lines at Six Flags Great America and my patience is not that good. I walked around, just to get the point of it all and see if there was a vendor’s booth that I could visit that didn’t have a million people standing in their line, and there wasn’t. So I hit up a high school classmate of mine, who invited me to come hang out with her at her hotel (she was over those long lines as well) to hang out. I immediately took her up on that offer!
So again, there I was walking from the convention center to the hotel and that’s the moment when I really enjoyed Essence Festival. I hung out with her and her family at the hotel and then we walked to Bourbon Street and got our semi-partying on and saw the happenings on the busy street made for tourists especially. I showed them the cool places to hang out on Bourbon and they enjoyed it!
Next, we went back to the hotel so that they could dress for the concert and my friend’s mother gave me her concert ticket to give her legs some rest. I am now feeling the same leg pains that she was trying to avoid, because yet again, we walked to the Superdome and then literally climbed up to the top where our seats were located. If you ever been around me and out with me, you know that Felicia loves to have a GREAT time! I had everyone around me enjoying that concert. I danced and sung my heart out once Xscape and Mary J. Blige hit the stage. Thank God I deleted my Insta-stories the next day, cause my singing along with Xscape, was just awful lmaoooooooo. I really enjoyed myself Saturday!!!!!
Sunday, I slept most of the day because all that walking and partying wore me out. My calves and legs are on fire still. I keep trying to remind myself even now typing this, that my Essence Festival experience was worth it. I eventually got out of the bed and had my boyfriend drive me back to the Mielle Pop-Up Shop so that I could get some more of her products to ensure I had a complete set to use and to support Rachel James “Pear Nova” luxury nail lacquer line, I bought a nude color polish for now. Then, as I’m standing in line to make my purchase, and also near Rachel, in walks Ryan Henry the owner of 9Mag and y’all know them both from the television show, Black Ink Crew Chicago. I briefly told them who I was, that I’m from Chicago, the work I do with domestic violence and I met Ryan’s mom on social media years ago because we both advocate for domestic violence. Ryan’s family lost his sister Nova Henry and her daughter Ava to domestic violence. They were so cool and we took a picture together of course (never mind my look I got caught in the rain).
Overall, I enjoyed my experience at Essence Festival. I did nothing that I probably was supposed to which made it even more special to me. Whatever moment, I was in, I just simply enjoyed it and was present, which is something that I’ve been working on internally. It was my first time going and I enjoyed it. Next year I may join the bandwagon and make it a “Girls Trip” like so many other women I saw there together, having fun.
If you’ve ever been to Essence Festival, what were some of your best and/or worst experiences? Share your stories in the comments.