Thursday night, or early Friday morning, turned out to be the most sleep I would get the entire weekend. Waking up Friday, after maybe five hours of sleep, my friends and I got ourselves together and left the hotel, ready to see what was going on at the Ernest N. Morial Convention Center. Parking was, of course, a beast; but we lucked out and found a spot that was only $5. After walking several blocks, we entered the center and made a right. Wrong move; we went on a 15 minute, possible 20, trek throughout the center, searching for the EMF festivities. We called a friend who was already there, but she didn’t have a good grasp on where everything was located. I saw a woman walking past us, carrying a Wal-Mart tote, as stopped her to ask for directions. I knew that Wal-Mart was a sponsor, so asking this lady seemed like a good move. It was. She kindly told us where we could find what we were looking for. Instead of making a right at the entrance, we should have turned left.
So anyhow, we make our way into the EMF area and I see the rest of the group. They had already been through the booths, so I figured we could get some tips from them on where the best free stuff was. As we made our way deeper into the area, where more booths were located, I saw a face that looked kinda familiar. It took a second for my brain to make sense of the image, but once it did, I hit a u-turn. I heard one of my friends ask “What’s going on?” but I could not stop myself long enough to answer; I had officially freaked out. I had my camera and camcorder hanging from one wrist, and my cellphone in my hand, rushing to snap a picture. Let me tell you this…
Boris Kodjoe is FLAWLESS in person. I swear, what we see on the big and small-screens and in photos fail to do him proper justice. That said, I wish I had a photo to show you. *sigh* Yep, I snapped a pic but the camera on my phone seems to hesitate a bit, so what I ended up with was a funny (or not so funny) blur. But for the time being, I’ll have to be satisfied with the memory of him floating through the crowd, all regal-like.
So the day, for me, started off awesome. After the excitement wore off a bit, we watched a dance off hosted by Darrin Henson (you know, Darrin’s Dance Grooves?). We stayed long enough to see a young man win the dance off and to see this guy on stage, who had this Chris Brown (meh) thing going, dance his behind off! He was pretty impressive, but free stuff was calling my name.
Three of us broke off from the rest of the group, made our rounds and snapped some pictures (I saw NeNe from Real Housewives of Atlanta really did get a nose job; I figured the pics I saw prior to this were taken at odd angles, but nope). She was at the My Black Is Beautiful area with Sam Fine, discussing beauty tips and whatnot.
We stopped to see MC Lyte perform (Love her!) at the Coca-Cola stage area. She is so tiny; I could hear her voice, but I couldn’t see her! One of my friends tapped me on my shoulder and pointed to my right and all I could see was the top of her head before she stepped onto the stage. She is classic.
We bought something to eat from one of the vendors; I didn’t pay attention to the name, but I wasn’t terribly impressed with the shrimp etouffee or the cabbage I ordered as my sampler. But the sweet potato bread was on point.
We saw a couple of panels on Day 1: “Informed and In Charge: Sex in the Era of HIV” and “Black Men Uncensored Part II: The Games, The Lies, and The Truth”. It was interesting to listen to what the various panelists had to say and there were some gems in the messages they gave, but I’m knowledgeable, so much of what was said I already knew. I did enjoy the eye candy during the “Black Men” panel…sheesh…*grin*
We stayed for part of the Steve Harvey segment, because, if nothing else, we’d get a good laugh.
After hitting a drive through, we went to the hotel and got ready for an evening of concerts and more Bourbon St. I can’t even tell you, without looking at the line-up, who all performed that first night (Monica, Raphael Saadiq, Charlie Wilson, Chrisette Michelle)
Once Janet Jackson hit the stage, everyone else ceased to exist. I know I am not the only one to feel that way. No matter what, I actually had the opportunity to see Ms. Jackson perform! She put on an awesome show; starting off with Pleasure Principle, performing seemed as easy as breathing for her. She didn’t miss a beat; still had the moves that we all, or at least I, tried to mimic back in the day. We were in the nosebleed section, unfortunately, but when she started to perform Miss You Much, I was so tempted to forgo my fear of falling and dance my behind off! She hit me with Alright and brought back awesome memories of being a kid and wishing I could dance around in an outrageously bright zoot suit *smile*. Escapade, If, Nasty, Come Back To Me (*sigh*), Lonely, You Want This, Let’s Wait Awhile, Anytime Anyplace, Rhythm Nation, Again, Love Will Never Do Without You, Young Love, Doesn’t Really Matter, Make Me, etc. We could have been there all night because she has so many classic songs. There were several that I would have loved for her to perform, but she hit the main ones and that was awesome.
Of course, I have to say a little about the special performance she gave for the guy she had brought up on stage…Janet is BAAAAAAAAAAAAD!!!! LOL!!! If I ever read a news story about someone stalking Ms. Jackson, I will not be surprised because that man was put through some stuff! After the experience, I bet he will never be the same, lol! She ended the night with Together Again, while photos of her and Michael faded in and out in the background; this, of course, caused me to end my night teary-eyed (still missing MJ, I’m sure I always will).
All that to say this: The first night was amazing and it is definitely in my memory bank as one of the best experiences I’ve had, so far, in my entire life.
Next post: Day Two at the Essence Music Festival!
Last three photos: Getty Images