Highlights From The DanceAfrica 2016 Bazaar

(Courtesy Fort Greene Focus/Justin Fox.)
(Courtesy Fort Greene Focus/Justin Fox.)

Fort Greene played host to the DanceAfrica 2016 Bazaar this past weekend, welcoming vendors from around the world and thousands of attendees.

The Brooklyn Academy of Music (BAM) sponsored the DanceAfrica 2016 Bazaar, which stretched from May 28th to May 30th. The street fair started at noon from Saturday to Monday, and extended into the evening all three nights.The festival took place at the intersection of Ashland Place and Lafayette Avenue.

“I think every year it gets a bit more diverse because people hear about it,” said Noelis, a celebrant who had come all the way from the Bronx.

Malik and Noelis (Courtesy Fort Greene Focus/Justin Fox.)
Noelis and her boyfriend Malik, as they waited in a long line for jerk chicken.(Courtesy Fort Greene Focus/Justin Fox.)

DanceAfrica was founded at BAM’s Lepercq Space in 1977 by Chuck Davis and it celebrates the many cultures of the African diaspora. Roughly 40,000 revelers were expected to attend the festival in Brooklyn. The festival also takes place in other cities such as Washington, D.C. and Chicago. Over 150 vendors sold their goods. 

The festival has changed over time, just as the neighborhood has. This year, it was held under the shadows of construction cranes, even as it stretched across multiple blocks.

Vendors selling their wares. (Courtesy Fort Greene Focus/Justin Fox.)
Vendors selling their wares. (Courtesy Fort Greene Focus/Justin Fox.)

Community activist Joe Gonzalez talked about the effect of the construction along Ashland on the Bazaar.

“This festival’s footprint occupied twice the space available to us now,” said Gonzalez. He added that “there was a whole row of vendors along the east side of Ashland place and none of them are present today.”

Some vendors said they noticed the change and felt the effects.

Merrill Matthews of Matthews Hats. (Courtesy Fort Greene Focus/Justin Fox.)
Merrill Matthews of Matthews Hats. (Courtesy Fort Greene Focus/Justin Fox.)

Merrill Matthews of Matthews Hats says she’s been attending the festival for 12 or 15 years. This year, she was featuring a new invention of hers that she calls the stretch crown.

“We’re a little bit displaced by all of the construction, but people are finding us,” said Matthews, who continued that “a lot of people couldn’t get spaces here. Maybe 100 people couldn’t get a spot. We didn’t find out until last week that we actually did have a space.”

Even with space at a premium, throngs turned out to celebrate. Continue below for some snapshots of the DanceAfrica 2016 Bazaar.

The lines were very long. (Courtesy Fort Greene Focus/Justin Fox)
The lines were very long. (Courtesy Fort Greene Focus/Justin Fox)
This chicken spawned a block long line. While it was very good, it wasn't worth the wait. (Courtesy Fort Greene Focus/Justin Fox)
This chicken spawned a block long line. While it was very good, it wasn’t worth the wait. (Courtesy Fort Greene Focus/Justin Fox)
(Courtesy Fort Greene Focus/Justin Fox.)
Vendors came from around the world. (Courtesy Fort Greene Focus/Justin Fox.)

 

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