When I got off the train, I started walking the wrong way and got a little lost. Rafael was across the street. Usually I would pull my phone out and try to find the directions myself but it was too cold for all that.
I crossed the street and asked him the location of Langston Hughes house.
I had to repeat myself because I think I caught him off guard when I said the artist’s name. I then told him what I was into and why I was looking for it.
I am volunteering at the Langston Hughes House, I said, We are renovating it to open it up to the public as a historical site.
It turns out that he used to deliver mail there years ago. He not only gave me the address but also history of how the house looked 15 years ago: I’ve been in the house before. It was not being kept by anyone and all his things were sitting there just collecting dust. Papers and furniture just sitting there. He then looked at me and encouraged me: It’s beautiful to see a young sister like you involved with projects like this. You don’t see this everyday.
When I was in Harlem today, I ran into fashion designer, Chi Atanga, from Manchester, London.
Lovely accent, lovely outfit and beautiful personality. He told me he was on his way back to Manchester but still allowed me to photograph him and told me of his business.
check him out at www.wallsofBenin.com
After graduation, we caught the train going uptown and went to Harlem to eat.
We had fun taking pictures and creating tableaus.
Last weekend I had the privilege of meeting female Break Dancer, Rokafella, in East Harlem. I met her at a meet and greet hosted by Momma’s Hip-Hop Kitchen.
I am not into Break Dancing but was interested in her story of how she became a female Break Dancer during a time when it was strictly for the fella’s and how she had enough stamina to actually keep it up until today.
This is the story she told me:
My name is ‘Rokafella’ because I seriously used to ‘rock the fellas’ back in the day. I used to show the guys that women could Break Dance too. I used to spin on my head and everything…I started Break Dancing in 1994. I danced all types of styles; Hip-Hop, House, Salsa, and African. I felt Break Dancing was missing so I started to Break Dance. Even though I danced all those genres, I am known for my Break Dancing.
I came up against misogyny and the gender thing. The better I got at my craft, the more people were resistant to hiring me. I had this determination to continue because I was capable of continuing my training. The more I trained, the more determined I became.
My parents were not really supportive of me Break-Dancing because they saw me struggling; and you know, parents don’t like watching their children struggle…
It was in Manhattan where I trained. I was in an all guy group. One of the guys from the group is my husband today.
Today, I am still dancing. Along with my husband, Kwikstep, I founded a dance company name Full Circle. It is a dance organization that preserves Break-Dancing and other Hip-Hop dance forms.
This year Rokafella will be performing at Teatro Pregones Theater with her husband, Kwikstep. They will be sharing their love story with the world on stage on Thursday, February 14 at 7pm. If you are in the Bronx and are looking for something different to do on this Valentine’s Day, I would encourage you to attend Rokafella’s show.
Photo Credit: Yu Wadee