We’re already into the month of March and this year’s Black History Month went out with a glorious bang. The black community came together this past Saturday night at the Fairmont Royal York Hotel to celebrate the fifth anniversary of the Black Diamond Ball. Known as the most exclusive event for the close of Black History Month, it’s the fundraising gathering and celebration of Black Canadian art and culture that you really don’t want to miss.
I have mentioned before how I had not attended the ball – until now. So, as a first-time attendee, there was a lot to take in. But I will stick to the basics, give you a recap and tell you a little bit about my experience for the evening.
Let me break it down for you:
This year’s theme was rhythm and blues, and I’m not sure if everyone received the memo. I believe that everyone is more comfortable coming through representing with their African garb. And there’s absolutely nothing wrong with that! But I can honestly say that I was really excited at the prospect of seeing the inspiration behind the pomp and grandiose gowns and outfits that would have shined through with the R&B theme.
Here’s what I had to offer:
I was channeling more of a vintage 80s to 90s glamour, borrowing from a few of my favourites who love a high-slit and showing a little cleavage once in awhile: Vesta, Phyllis Hyman, Tina Turner, Toni Braxton, Whitney Houston and I can go on.
My gal pal and date – writer, media storyteller and all-around bad chick, BFF Bee Quammie channelled all the glam and glow of Donna Summer in her crowning glory and disco heyday. She nailed it!
Entertainment and Headliner
Everyone really did their thing! Mind you, I can’t lie. Half of my time was spent in line taking pictures with fancy backdrops, but from what I saw and heard from an African drumming ensemble (I, unfortunately, didn’t get their name), The Recipee Band, Dru and the night’s headliner Tank – they didn’t come to play, they came to party!
Tank turned out hit after hit singing “Maybe I Deserve”, “Please Don’t Go”, “When We”, “Sex Music” and he sat behind the keyboard to play us out with one of my favourite covers, “I Can’t Make You Love Me”. His sense of humour was definitely one of the highlights of his set and he surely didn’t disappoint vocally. My only complaint is that it literally felt like he was on stage for 5 minutes – the time flew by so bloody fast! I, unfortunately, missed out on William Leathers and a tribute to Kobe, but, all in all, the entertainment was stellar.
We need to remember and always keep in mind that while we are partying, this is a fundraiser! This year’s fundraising focus was to raise funds and bring awareness to youth anti-bullying and anti-violence initiatives through the upcoming #safespace365 initiative. Funds were also raised to support the OCAD Black Youth Design Initiative. Artxperiential Projects always seeks to support black youth in the community via programming and more.
Seeing a whole lot of familiar faces
As I had mentioned in my Instagram stories, this was literally my first grand outing since having Sugar Plum. Needless to say, it was nice to be glammed up and be out seeing familiar faces and meeting new friends. While I didn’t get to take pictures of everyone I would have loved to, here are a few that I did take that I can share.
All around it was a good vibe and a great night. My major gripe for the evening? It was unfortunate, but the DJs were less-than-stellar. Just as I was preparing myself to dance all night during the after-party, the first room I stepped into had a DJ who was stuck in the 90s and couldn’t mix for her life. Then after I moved into the larger second room, the music got better but took a nosedive after a few minutes. Not exactly sure what transpired there, but it was a #FixItJesus moment and I took it upon myself to take my peppered feet back to my hotel room.
I will leave you with this: Keep your ears and eyes peeled for The Vanguard – another spectacular event that will be curated and created by none other than Shawn Cuffie. He announced that he is going to bring the Met Gala vibe to Toronto! And because I already know and understand the vision behind this upcoming event, I feel that it would be in your best interest to keep your ear to the ground. you have been warned.
Until next time…