Archive | Bright Lights Big City RSS for this section

FEEDING BODY + SOUL: #BrunchWithBee Event Recap

9

Ghandi is quoted as saying “Be the change you wish to see in the world.”

Loosely translated into Bee-speak, I say “Stop complaining about the lack of something in your life, get off your ass, and make it happen.”

And that’s exactly what I did this past weekend with Brunch With Bee.

Back in February, I griped on Twitter about the dire need for a brunch date in my life. Visions from reality shows where women dressed up in fab outfits, munched on yummy food and sipped delicious drinks, and engaged in any level of drama and messiness danced like sugarplum fairies in my head, and I wanted to partake (minus the drama and messiness). Couple that with the dismal and harsh winter that had us in its grips, and I was thirsting for the chance to spend a nice day catching up with some lovely women over a delicious spread.

I could have waited for an invite to someone’s brunch shindig, but thought I’d get more satisfaction and immediacy out of organizing it myself. I placed a couple of calls, send a couple of emails, and pushed the details out in my new monthly newsletter (sign up here!) – and Brunch With Bee was born!

This past Sunday, I was joined by about 20 0ther women at Toronto’s Hot House Cafe for their infamous Sunday Brunch Buffet. The plan was simple. Show up, eat, drink, meet and greet with women you know and others you don’t. Attendees ranged from my mommy to friends from high school/university to women who I was meeting for the first time in real life – and it was beautiful.

brunchwithbee1

brunchwithbee2

brunchwithbee3

10

 Some of the things I learned via the brunch event were:

An increasing number of my good real-life friends were all born out of social media connections. When I went around the table to give brief introductions, the amount of women with whom I had initially connected with via blogging or Twitter was astounding. In a way, social media has helped me to find like-minded spirits more easily – and luckily for me, the majority have translated into awesome flesh-and-blood sistafriends.

I’m no longer “surprised” by the fact that women can get along. For me and my experiences, the scale has balanced between situations where women have been catty and competitive, and situations where women have been supportive and genuinely sweet. I no longer marvel at the fact that 2 or more of us can gather and foster an energy of positivity and love, though it’s taken me some time to curate a circle that reflects that. Brunch, with its familiar and new faces, was just another experience to add to the supportive side of the scale, and it was wonderful.

Different generations of women have much to learn and share with each other. With attendees ranging from the age of early 20s (my sister) to mid 50s (my mother), we had a variety of life experiences to discuss, which added to the richness of the afternoon. Talks of motherhood, career, health, and more were embellished by the different perspectives we all had, and I think we all learned lessons from each other that we may have missed out on in a more homogeneous group.

The hustle is real. I’ve admittedly gotten used to being surrounded by women who are juggling life responsibilities and their various passions – excelling in their respective areas of expertise or working damn hard towards that level of excellence. I didn’t want to position Brunch With Bee as a hardcore networking event, but was happy when connections were made and business cards shared organically. My mom marveled at the full lives many of the ladies were living, and the unapologetic way we were chasing dreams and making them realities. It was nice to take a moment from the grind and celebrate each other – the things we’ve accomplished and just the sheer fact that we wake up and we try. Hard. Very hard. Special shout out to Mika of LishauNaturals who donated a beautiful gift set – and to Fiana who won it!

All in all, Brunch With Bee was so much fun, and turned out to be better than I expected. In reality, I currently love any opportunity where Little Magician and I get to eat amazing food, but thought tying my own selfish needs into a gathering with other awesome women would feed my body and soul. What better way to end off the weekend, March, and Women’s History Month? Brunch With Bee Round 2 will be coming soon!

*Most* of the ladies who attended - thank you all!

*Most* of the ladies who attended – thank you all!

The best way to keep up to date with any special events such as Brunch With Bee is to sign up for my monthly newsletter – if you’re so inclined, sign up here!

GIRL TALK: Interview With In The Dance Fitness’ Yendi Phillipps [Video]

yendiinterview

Last week I got to engage in one of my first loves, and something I haven’t had the energy to do throughout the early part of my pregnancy – DANCE! I was one of the lucky few who grabbed a ticket to the sold-out In The Dance Fitness class with Jamaican dynamo Yendi Phillipps at Toronto’s City Dance Corps, and I’m SO glad I did.

First off – if Yendi Phillipps‘ name isn’t one you’re used to hearing, get familiar. I first “met” Yendi through her pageant life, serving as Miss Jamaica World 2007, and Miss Jamaica Universe 2010 (as 1st runner up, she made history by being the highest-placing Jamaican ever in the pageant). Since then, she’s parlayed her beauty, smarts, and charisma into a complex career: brand spokesperson (Air Jamaica, Digicel), Smile Jamaica TV host, foundation creator, model, actress, dancer, and much more. With her educational background (a BFA in Dance and a Master’s degree in Recreation & Leisure Management), Yendi returned to her first love – dance – for her latest project, In The Dance Fitness.

The recipe for ITDF? Mix one part love of dance with one part love of Jamaican culture, and substitute the need for a gym with the comfort of working out at home to a DVD. Using dancehall dance moves like the Butterfly, Body Basics, and One Drop, Yendi has created a fun and challenging workout that incorporates cardio and aerobic activity, core work, body toning, and fat burning all in one. I went not once, but twice to her live classes here in Toronto for the Canadian launch, and adored every minute. Yendi’s energy was the best blend of motivation, positivity, and fun, so we all got into it. Y’all also know I’m not a gym girl, so In The Dance Fitness is perfect for me – give me some good music, some dance moves, and a guaranteed full-body workout, and I’m happy – plus, my Jamaican heritage loves all the good things yaad has to offer!

ITDFCDC

ITDF1

ITDF2

ITDFBeeYendi

After Thursday’s media class, I got to kick it with Yendi and talk a bit about this new project and more. Here’s a taste of our hilarious and open chat:

On In The Dance Fitness…

Bee: What was the idea for this project, and where did In The Dance come from?

Yendi: So, outside of what people know me for, which is you know, Miss Jamaica and Miss Universe and so on,  I actually am a dancer. So I’ve been dancing since I was 3 years old, and I’m a trained dancer – I have a bachelor of fine arts in dance where I completed my degree in New York, and this is what I’ve done my whole life. This is what I know, right?! And then, in training for the competitions and to get ready for those competitions, I wasn’t the biggest fan of the gym – but body is a big part of it. You know, when you have the swimsuit competition and you’re only walking in front of 3 billion people [laughs] no big deal, no pressure, right? So, I have to get fit and I have to get ready! My method was dance, so what I wanted to do was merge Jamaican culture – which is the culture I know best, which is what I do – and merge it with my passion, which is dance. And so, here came the idea of putting it together, putting it in a product, and the birth of In The Dance Fitness came.

On Motherhood…

Bee: How has your daughter’s [16-month old cutie, Israel] presence shifted things in your life?

Yendi: Oh – it’s shifted things tremendously. I feel like I had a mission before, and now there’s a bit more purpose to my journey. It’s not just about trying to get to a goal, but it’s about enjoying the experience and the journey towards that goal [...] it’s actually made me more determined to leave an indelible mark, because I want her to look at me as her inspiration and no external factors. And yes, there’s a part of me that wants to make my mother proud and my parents proud, but I want to make my daughter proud to say “That’s my mom.”

On Natural Hair…

Bee: I know you recently did your big chop, and you’re still wearing your hair naturally – what was the impetus behind that decision, and did you feel anything around redefining what beauty means to you?

Yendi: You know what it was for me – and I’m SO glad you asked that question! No one has asked that question at all, so thank you for that! This world of pageantry puts out this image of what beauty is ‘supposed’ to be [...] and it was so much of not who we naturally are – it’s almost like it was a big façade. In retrospect, I kind of felt like, why is it that we as women are made to feel as though we have to do a particular thing to be a particular thing, and I wanted to almost redefine for myself what my projection of beauty was. My personal journey is that I wanted to go back to what I was created to be.

Check the video for Yendi’s additional thoughts on bouncing back after baby, motherhood, natural hair choices, being a big dreamer, work-life balance, and the top 3 famous folks she’d handpick for her dream In The Dance Fitness class! Plus – if you pay attention, you might just catch footage of yours truly balancing pon head top in the studio!

YouTube Preview Image

Did you catch her face when I said I was hitching a ride in her luggage?! Lol!

Yendi’s In The Dance Fitness DVD is available at Walmart locations across Canada, and more details can be found at the In The Dance Fitness website. Make sure you keep up with her via Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook, and search the #inthedanceTO hashtag to see some of the real-time reviews on social media!

Special thanks to Krystal of Chris Smith Management, iShotYa Media, and Potential Films!

OUT AH ROAD: NYC & Toronto Events Not To Be Missed + I Need Your Help!

I haven’t done one of these posts in a while, but some awesome events are coming up, and I had to spread the word!

justataste

First up, for my NYC folk: my homegirl Keya Maeesha has curated another one of her dope-ass shows – tomorrow night’s event is called Just A Taste. Featuring incredible artists like Gwen Bunn, Jennah Bell, Jamie Woods, and Sah Ril, Just A Taste is part of Keya Maeesha Entertainment’s Acoustic Soul Series. If you’re a music lover and have $15 in your pocket, head down to DROM NYC and get what your heart and ears are looking for! Or, head here —> http://www.ticketfly.com/event/459757 and see if you can grab $10 advance tickets. Either way, get in where you fit in and keep up with Keya Maeesha Entertainment for more amazing musical programming!

RNBSEX

This Saturday, I’ll be co-hosting the second live R&B: Relationships & Bullsh!t Show with my homie Lincoln Anthony Blades! After discussing dating in Toronto at the last R&B Show in October, this evening will be a conversation party focused on S-E-X. Is great sex a necessary part of a great relationship? We’ll be choppin’ it up on that topic all night, complete with live music, great food and drinks, and a jammin’ afterparty – all at the lovely Trio Lounge! Get your advance tickets online here —> http://www.eventbrite.com/e/rb-the-relationships-bullsht-show-tickets-9051129171 and get ready for an enlightening and entertaining night!

BLUEBASHfinalfront

On February 1st, one of my favourite parties of the year goes down at Aura Lounge – it’s Blue Bash! This is HomieLuva’s annual birthday bashment, and it’s been a stand-out party for the last 5 years. This year will be bigger and better, with music by DJ Smooth B (also co-producer of the event), DJ Niterider, and DJ Soca Sweetness - this is a party where you need comfy shoes, because you won’t be sitting down AT ALL. Jay Martin and Mr. Presto are the evening’s hosts, and Jay will be performing a comedy show to get the night kicked off right at 10:30pm. Advance tickets are $15 each, or 3 for $30 and you can get ‘em here —>  http://www.bluebash2014.eventbrite.ca so round up your people and your blue outfits, and help me celebrate HLF’s birthday!

hairinfoneeded

And coming soon…I’m working on a project with some special partners here in Toronto, and I’m hoping some of my Toronto folk, especially ladies who wear their hair naturally, can help me out. I’m looking for some info from you: what, if any, are your biggest hair challenges, and what pieces of information do you think could help you with your hair? Do you have issues with growth? Breakage? Styling? Do you want info on choosing/using the right product? Knowledge on detangling techniques? Something/anything else? Please comment here or send me an email at bee@83toinfinity.com and let me know what would help YOU. Hopefully, I’ll have more details for you soon!

ARTSY FARTSY: Black Nativity Toronto Screening Recap

blacknativitybanner

Though us Canadians celebrated our Thanksgiving 6 weeks ago, it’s not hard to get caught up in the festivities with my American homies as they prepare for feasts of gratitude this weekend. I know that as soon as the food has settled and the tryptophan has taken hold, it’ll be time to look forward to the Christmas season – and thanks to the good folks at Fox Searchlight, I got a dose of the holiday warm and fuzzies at a Toronto screening of Black Nativity on Monday night!

Starring Jennifer Hudson, Jacob Latimore, Tyrese Gibson, Angela Bassett, and Forest Whitaker, Black Nativity is a modern film adaptation of the classic play by Langston Hughes. Filled with themes of family, struggle, forgiveness, and love, the film centres around the traditional Christian Nativity story. I won’t give away any more, but I will tell you my 5 favourite things about Black Nativity!

blacknativity2

1. Harlem

This summer, I spent a weekend in Harlem for the Blogging While Brown Conference, and fell ALL the way in love. I know there’s nothing new about New York City serving as the backdrop for cinema, but I was giddy as the camera shots panned past spots I ate at, shopped at, hung out at…you get the point. I don’t remember how many times I grabbed HomieLuva’s arm and said, “I went there!” He rolled his eyes, but you know he allowed me my moment. The Harlem shots in the film (and the brownstone where a chunk of the movie took place) were gorgeous.

2. Angela Bassett

I’ve always been a fervent worshipper at the altar of Angela, but my standom exploded this year with her amazing turn as Marie Laveau on American Horror Story: Coven. It was a shift to see her playing a prim and proper preacher’s wife and grandmother in Black Nativity, but she was fierce all the same. I love the diversity of her work, and thought she played this role with the perfect amount of emotion without tipping into ‘corny’ country. She even sang a little bit, and I was surprised to hear that she can carry a note! G’on then, Auntie Angela!

blacknativity3

3. Jacob Latimore

Now, I didn’t know much about this young whippersnapper before coming into the movie, except for the random fact that he’s supposedly the newest member of Mindless Behaviour (don’t ask me how I know this). I admittedly don’t have other work to compare him to, but I really enjoyed his role as Langston, the star of the film. The tough-shelled teen with an immense love for his mother and a desire for more out of life…he did that. His voice is amazing, and he has the makings of a wonderful actor, so it’ll be interesting to see where he goes from here.

4. The Church

Now, I’m not the most church-going person in the world. I wasn’t raised in the church, and only started going when I fell in love with a boy who was. Church still often feels like a foreign place where everyone is speaking a language that I don’t understand, but I’d be lying if I said that my symbolism- and ceremony-loving self didn’t see beauty in it. Given that the film is called Black Nativity, I knew there would be an indelible religious overtone. Sometimes that can be intimidating to me, but the film’s presentation was actually quite lovely. Forest Whitaker played a great preacher (even if his pseudo-Brit accent seemed a bit off for a preacher in Harlem), and I could tell that the majority of the audience was really into it.

blacknativity1

5. The Music

Black Nativity trailers let me know early on that this was going to be more of a musical than anything else. I’ll be honest – I wasn’t that keen on watching people skip from dialogue to musical solos on the big screen, but thought I’d give it a chance. The voices in the film – Jennifer, Jacob, Tyrese, Mary J. Blige, and guest spots by Luke James and Grace Gibson (Lynn Whitfield’s daughter!) were very well-chosen. Nas also had a couple of prime pieces in the film, threading hip hop throughout in a cool way. My boo, Raphael Saadiq, was the musical director, so as the credits rolled in the first few minutes of the film, I got excited. The music is definitely the star of Black Nativity, and I was pleasantly surprised!

Black Nativity opens in theatres everywhere today, so if you’re in the mood for a feel-good movie that you can see with the family (I don’t remember the last time I saw a movie with HomieLuva and our goddaughter that we all enjoyed), check it out! Major shout-outs to Fox Searchlight for providing me with passes for a few lucky winners – we had a wonderful discussion after the film, and many people are bringing their families back for another viewing this week!

This was a sponsored post, but y’all know I give only the real deal. If you were at the screening, or if you happen to see the film on opening weekend – let me know what you think!

P.S.: The Syndicate. This Saturday. Be there! 

UP NEXT: SisterTalk – A Celebration Of Sisterhood [11/16/13]

sistertalkTO

“Sisterhood anchors you.”

That was a tweet I read the other day – utterly simple, yet so powerful. Sisterhood is something that has been crucial for me and my development as a young girl and a grown woman. From my blood sister to my chosen sisters, being embraced by a positive, loving, and empowering circle of femininity is one of the most important things to me. Ain’t no time for the “Ugh – I just don’t get along with women” paradigm or looking at women with distrust before love. Like that tweet read, sisterhood anchors you – it gives you strength, understanding, and another place for your heart to call home. There’s truly nothing like it.

This Saturday I get to put sisterhood on a pedestal at SisterTalk: A Celebration of Sisterhood at One King West, hosted by my girl Karlyn Percil. What started as a monthly meeting between a close-knit group of women has grown into this, the first public SisterTalk event. What is SisterTalk?

A platform where women meet monthly to have real and honest conversations about life, love, career and relationships. Through open and honest dialogue, women tackle the things that prevent them from leaning in and creating the life they love and deserve. The SisterTalk group has been meeting for over a year and a half and in September 2013, Karlyn and some of the members appeared on Oprah’s Lifeclass.

Via SisterTalk eventbrite page

Via SisterTalk eventbrite page

After that dynamic appearance on Oprah’s LifeClass show, plans were solidified to bring the essence of those monthly sessions in sisterhood to the masses – and the event goes down tomorrow.

It’ll be an afternoon of meaningful conversations, inspiring connections, and activities to bring out the authenticity of what happens in those monthly SisterTalk meet-ups. I’m looking forward to discussing the multifaceted aspects of life as a woman – integrating self-care + family + career+ more, and I’m excited for performances from spoken word artist Nadine Williams and keynote from Diane Clemons. I’ll be doing double-duty as a Table Host with my girl Chivon John, and will also be the Social Media Correspondent for the day!

I’m ready to pamper myself with hair/nails/fly outfits, but I really can’t wait to connect with the other amazing women in attendance. As if the personal gains from the event aren’t enough, I’m ecstatic that proceeds from ticket sales and online donations will go towards Break The Silence – a partnership between UNICEF and Bellemoun Community Youth Network aimed at ending the stigma and taboo of child sexual abuse. At $100 per ticket, the price may cause some to feel they have to miss out this time around – but the ladies behind the event have sponsored tables and tickets for women who otherwise wouldn’t have been able to afford the entrance fee. Looking good, feeling good, and doing good – SisterTalk: A Celebration of Sisterhood will encompass it all!

If you’re a last-minute kinda gal but think you want to come out, hit up the eventbrite page – tickets may likely be sold out, but it doesn’t hurt to try! If you’re looking for me, I’ll have a fruity drink in one hand and my phone in the other, but my arms will be open and available for a hug! If you’re not going to be in the house, never fear – stay tuned to my Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook as I share live, behind-the-scenes coverage of the event!

Whether you’ll be at the event tomorrow or not – take this as a reminder to anchor yourself in sisterhood this weekend!

What else is on the go? Next Tuesday, I’ll be on the panel for Secrets of Side Hustler, then on November 30th, I’m co-hosting my first blogging event called The Syndicate! Y’all know what to do – click the links for more info! 

EVENT ALERT: The Syndicate – Toronto’s Blogging & Social Media Forum

TheSyndicateFlyer

TORONTO! I’ve got something for you!

After attending blogging and social media conferences both in Canada and the U.S., I’ve been intrigued at the variety of discussions, information sharing, and collaboration that comes out of the events. To be completely honest – I’ve been a bit let down with some of the offerings I’ve experienced closer to home, and wondered what I could do to add something different to the Toronto blogging/social media scene.

Enter: The Syndicate.

The Syndicate is an idea that I’ve had for a LONG time, that came to fruition with the help of my friend Chivon John. We both discussed the need and desire to have an event that highlighted diversity in the city; that pushed collaboration over competition; and that provided attendees with the kind of information they REALLY want and need. If you pay $200 for a conference, and the most valuable thing you walk away with is a cool swag bag, something is off.

With The Syndicate, I wanted to provide an afternoon of information, collaboration, and networking that would actually help someone – like the multitude of people I speak to about starting/maintaining/growing a blog, or finding better ways to maximize their social media presence. If this sounds like you, keep reading…

At The Syndicate on Saturday, November 30th at the IndustREAL Arts Room (688 Richmond Street West) from 1-5pm, we’ll have an interactive panel discussion and break-out sessions with a number of “experts”: in addition to myself and Chivon, we’ll be joined by my friend Lincoln Anthony Blades of the awesome blog This Is Your Conscience, and Monique Daniel, a PR Coordinator from Porter Novelli Canada. Do you have questions about monetizing your blog, working with PR agencies and brands, transferring from blogging to freelance writing, figuring out how to translate blog readers to customers and event attendees, and more? We’ll be there to discuss from our learnings and experiences, and to give you the info you need. In addition to the panel, we’ll also each host breakout sessions where you can learn a bit more about our various areas of expertise, and all attendees will leave with a guidebook filled with tips from all of us.

So, set aside the afternoon of November 30th, and get ready to come out and learn, be inspired, and get connected! There are too many awesome people in the city who don’t know about all the other awesome people in the city, and we want to bring everyone together so that we can all learn from and support each other! Whether you’re considering starting a blog, figuring out how to go full-time with one, or just wondering how you can maximize social media in other ways, The Syndicate is here for you!

Get your $25 tickets on our Eventbrite page: http://thesyndicate2013.eventbrite.ca/

Any questions? Don’t hesitate to reach out to me: bee@83toinfinity.com

See you on November 30th!

ARTSY FARTSY: Interview With Camille Lauren + Toronto Natural Hair & Beauty Show Giveaway

Arta Gallery, Distillery District

At Arta Gallery, Distillery District

Sometimes, you’ve just got to say no.

I found myself in a rut with this blog not too long ago – I was getting a lot of requests to either post things on my blog or do blogging favours for other people, but when it came down to it, the other party always fell through. I shunned the idea of partnering with anyone else for a while, then I got an email inviting me to an art gallery event in the Distillery District. I had met one of the featured artists before, and her publicist invited me to the event with the hopes that I would feature her on the blog. I was so ready to send my “thanks, but no thanks” email – but first, I satisfied my curiosity by going to her site.

That “no” turned into a “yes” with the quickness.

Camille ‘Ciel’ Lauren is a Toronto-based, Curacao-born visual artist currently studying at OCAD (Ontario College of Art & Design) – her company Art of Ciel is inspired by sea and sand, a nod to her Caribbean upbringing.  As the Branding Director for the multi-arts production company Spoke N Heard, she was a driving force behind the creation of the Emanate Gallery Exhibit held at Arta Gallery last month. I fell in love with the art on her site – from her commissioned pieces to her inspired artwork to her live event paintings (yes, she will capture your event live and on canvas), I could see the talent and beauty that radiates from her pieces, and couldn’t wait to see them up-close.

IMG_7695

Brown Sugar Steaming by Camille Lauren

NaturalistaGlam by Camille Lauren

NaturalistaGlam by Camille Lauren

I was lucky enough to do a quick interview with Camille where she told me more about her work and inspiration:

On how her love of art was born…

“Art was just my most natural response. It’s been a way to express myself ever since I was 4. When I came to Canada, it was a thing I used even more to…maybe like a shield in my younger years. I was very shy, so if I was moving to a new school, I’d always have my sketchbook – and even if I didn’t make any friends, art was my way to interpret the world. It just continued – in high school I started painting on canvas, and I loved it. ”

On her biggest inspiration…

“My inspiration comes from conversations, stories that I hear from people – they make me want to reach in and depict that. I like to create an eternal moment to share. You can have a feeling about something, and maybe you tell it to someone and they forget. When you paint it, it’s there for everyone to see.”

How she got involved with Spoke N Heard…

“Three years ago, Spoke N Heard’s creator told me about his vision to unite the arts. Over time I found myself doing graphic design and promotion, and then I became the Branding Director. With this show, Celia Wilson (Creative Director & Curator) and I worked really closely to refine the theme, and the team brought it together. We sent out a lot of different artist submission calls on the web, as far as we could go.”

What her 5-10 year plan is with regards to her art…

“I’m starting my own business, Art of Ciel, to reach further with my art. It’s growing into much more than just art, but I’m taking it one step at a time. I’m looking to art merchandising, and clothing embellishments and design – just trying to broaden it out a bit.”

 emanate

Camille and I

Camille and I

To say I’m happy I didn’t decline Camille’s invitation is an understatement. Her art really spoke to me with her use of colour, texture, and movement, and it was amazing to see them up-close and personal. It was also wonderful to hear her tell her own story about her inspirations and aspirations – and sidenote: her hair is DOPE. Now…all I have to do is start saving my pennies to get a piece or two!

Check out Camille’s website, and follow her on Twitter – and stay in touch with Spoke N Heard to support amazing art and artists!

P.S – Don’t forget that I’ll be speaking at the Toronto Natural Hair & Beauty Show this weekend! I’m giving away 2 sets of tickets to the show – one full weekend pass and one Sunday pass. Saturday is all about informative workshops (including mine called ‘Navigating Natural Hair in the Online World’), and Sunday is workshops + vendors + hair and fashion showcase and more! Comment here and let me know why you want to go the TNHBS – bonus points if you follow me on Twitter and tweet me to say that you entered! The winners will be drawn and announced on Friday! 

WHAT’S YOUR FANTASY: My Ideal Date Night + #DateNightNYC

beeandjay

Has anyone ever asked you to describe your perfect date? I was asked that recently, and it was one of the hardest questions to answer. Different activities are “perfect” in different ways, so there’s no one date plan that will make me smile, swoon, or be ready for a little after-date action, na’mean?

That being said, I absolutely love nights like this:

HomieLuva is decked out in his effortless casual/sexy outfit (dark jeans, slightly fitted V-neck shirt, blazer), and I’m stuntin’ in a dress and heels high enough for me to match his 6’3″ self. He holds all the doors open for me, and we ride off in our car that has just been detailed, oil changed, and gassed up (hey – auto maintenance makes me happy). We arrive at a blink-and-you-might-miss-it venue and settle into an intimate booth, order wine and delectables, and prepare for an evening of live entertainment. What kind of live entertainment, you ask? How about a live band and incredible vocalists who perform jazzy, soulful R&B – the kind of music that makes you sit a little closer to the one you’re with; that makes you whisper-sing lyrics in their ear; that makes you put a hand on their thigh to tap along with the percussion…

We might get up and dance. We might snuggle and share a joke that makes sense to no one but us. One thing is for sure: put me in a sexy venue where I can get lightly intoxicated by some good wine and HomieLuva’s cologne while eating delicious food and taking in dope live music, and I. AM. GOOD. I think it has something to do with indulging and engaging all of my senses like a true Taurus loves to do, but whatever it is, it works.

date night feat chris turner-hi res

So, why do I mention all of this? Well, if you’re in the NYC area and looking for an environment very similar to the one I described, then you might want to check out my girl Keya Maeesha’s latest event, Date Night NYC w/ Chris Turner, Shi Wisdom (big up Toronto!), Black Spade, and Nikko Gray! Keya curates incredible events, and has a knack for treating her guests and artists in a way that turns 1st-time attendees into repeaters, and inspires performers to give 110%. In other words, Date Night NYC is a fabulous way to spend an evening, whether you’re single or taken. Date Night NYC goes down at DROM on September 1st – click here for more info, and here to get your tickets ($15 adv, $20 at the do’)

Now, if you CAN’T head to the Big Apple next weekend for Date Night NYC, I’ve got you covered! Keya and DJ PHAZE joined forces to create Cupcakes & Handcuffs – The Date Night Mixtape, compiled of some of the sexiest chunes by various Date Night NYC artists. My next date night with HomieLuva will consist of nothing more than this mixtape on repeat while we have a picnic on the living room floor. Having fun can be free, y’all ;)

Date Night NYC info and tickets

Follow Keya Maeesha on Twitter and like her on Facebook

Have you hit up a Date Night NYC show? Are you going to next weekend’s show? What was the BEST date night you’ve ever had? What’s your fantasy date night? Share, share, share!

ARTSY FARTSY: Caribbean Film Screening With Gems of the Caribbean

PressConference

Frances Anne Solomon w/ representatives from Islands of the Caribbean

Last summer, I heard about a Caribbean film festival that was going to be taking place in Toronto. My love of the arts and my unyielding Caribbean pride pushed me to send an email to the media contact, asking if there was any way I – a small, local blogger – could get involved. I wasn’t expecting much of a response, but lo and behold, I received one. From that moment, I started volunteering with the Caribbean Tales Film Festival, and I’m back for another run this year!

A little background: Caribbean Tales Worldwide Distribution is a company founded by filmmaker Frances Anne Solomon, which seeks to celebrate Caribbean film, support Caribbean filmmakers, and build up the Caribbean as a viable and valuable artistic market. A Toronto-based film festival has been part of Caribbean Tales’ offering to the world, and this year marks the 8th annual Caribbean Tales Film Festival.

This weekend marks the kick-off of a new partnership between Caribbean Tales, Islands of the Caribbean (a tourism board conglomerate representing Jamaica, Grenada, Antigua & Barbuda, St . Lucia, and St. Vincent), and the CNE (Canadian National Exhibition). August 17th, 18th, and 30th will be the Gems of the Caribbean Screening Series at the CNE, and it is going to be DOPE. Details were revealed at last month’s Caribbean Tales Media Launch.

“We are delighted to be partnering with the tourism boards as there is a natural fit – they are promoting the Caribbean while we are marketing the brand by telling authentic stories of who we are,” stated Frances Anne Solomon, founder and CEO of CaribbeanTales.

“The Caribbean is more than just sun, sea and sand – it’s about our people, our spirit, our soul, it’s about our story. That’s why visitors are entranced by our islands – that’s why they are in love with our islands and ultimately return to our islands,” says Erica Henry-Jackman, Director of Tourism for the Government of Antigua and Barbuda. “This experience will come alive on film during the Gems of the Caribbean preview nights at the CNE.”

Saturday, August 17th = Jamaica night, featuring various short films and a screening of Marley (which I saw last year and ADORED)

YouTube Preview Image

Sunday, August 18th = Grenada/Antigua & Barbuda night, a.k.a. “Carnival Revelry”, featuring shorts and a screening of Mas Man

YouTube Preview Image

Friday, August 30th = St. Lucia/St. Vincent night, featuring shorts and a screening of Home Again (another film I had the pleasure of seeing)

YouTube Preview Image

All events start at 6:30pm. 

Gems of the Caribbean will also feature details and information about various Caribbean islands, and includes a rum sampling of the best rums in the region! Entrance to the Gems of the Caribbean screening is included with your ticket to the CNE – order online here!

For an Advance Ticket Discount, visit www.theex.com: Click on ‘guest info’, ‘tickets’ and then ‘group or promo code’ to use the unique online access code CT897794. Purchases can be made using a credit or debit card. Don’t forget to print your tickets at home for entry!

The Caribbean Tales Film Festival officially starts with a gala event and screening at the Harbourfront Centre on September 4th, and runs until the 14th. There will be free community screenings, parties, panel discussions, and amazing Caribbean film – and I’ll keep you all posted on the details!

You can find more information on the Caribbean Tales website, Facebook, and Twitter – the Gems of the Caribbean Screening Series will be held at the International Pavilion, Hall B, Presentation Theatre in the Direct Energy Centre, and more information can be found at booth #3237! See you there! 

GIRLS’ NIGHT OUT: Mrs. Carter Show & Hailo Cab Weekend Recap

bey-tickets

In keeping with my 2013 practice of doing things I’ve never done before, this past weekend I scratched another “must-do” off my list – I saw the one and only Beyonce in concert on Sunday!

Now, I’m an unapologetic Bey fan – I’m not going to stab anyone or cuss anyone out on Twitter over her, but I love me some Bey! I had never gotten the opportunity to see her in concert, but once the Mrs. Carter World Tour was announced, I knew this was going to be my shot. Tickets were copped way back in February, and July 21st had been circled on my calendar ever since that blessed credit card payment went through. It was going to be the ultimate girls’ night out – my sister and two of my good homegirls were down for the cause, so we made a night of it and had TOO much fun.

We met up at Hot House in downtown Toronto for dinner, finishing up this year’s Summerlicious series. Summerlicious is one half of an annual food festival in Toronto – for a few weeks out of the season (and again in the winter for its chilly counterpart, Winterlicious), a ton of Toronto restaurants offer prix-fixe menus allowing you to try new eats at an affordable cost. We munched on delicious Caesar salads, surf & turf, swordfish, and cheesecake while we shared jokes and laughs, and left with our bellies full – and wallets only slightly tapped out.

bey-dinner

bey-food

Finally it was time to head to the Air Canada Centre for the show. The air in the ACC was literally electric – you could tell that everyone was excited to be in the house. Luke James opened the show, and he was great! He definitely had me interested in looking up more of his music – vocals were on point, and he had good stage presence. After his set, the lights came back up and we chilled out to a musical mix. Little did I realize, we about to be entertained by a dude in the audience who couldn’t wait for Bey to come out before he started twerkin’:

Shortly after, the lights dimmed and it was show time! For the next 2 hours, Beyonce strutted, popped it, and dutty wined for her life while serving us flawless live vocals. Kudos to Papa Knowles for making Destiny’s Child practice singing while jogging, because Bey hit all her notes while head-banging and bouncing around on that damn stage. I don’t have that kind of vocal control while standing up to sing Happy Birthday, so hats off to Mrs. Carter.

bey-outfit

YouTube Preview Image

Did I mention that her dancers and all-woman band were ON POINT? I have girl crushes on her redheaded dancer Ashley and on her guitarist Bibi – but all the ladies (and Les Twins – the only gentlemen in the troupe) were dope. I adored the skill, artistry, passion, and detail that went into the show, and if there was any kernel of doubt about how much I loved Beyonce before, it was obliterated after. She was all that and a bag of chips.

Now, after the concert ended, the fun wasn’t over! The good people at Hailo Cab - the smartphone app that makes catching a cab easy as pie – provided me with some free credits to get home in style!

I was super impressed with the app. After setting up my profile and inputting my credit card info on its secure system, I was able to hail a taxi in 5 minutes simply by hitting a button. The cab number and driver’s name were provided, along with a minute-by-minute timer that showed me how long I’d be waiting. Next thing we knew, our driver Said showed up and it was time to roll. After a clean and comfortable ride, we reached our respective destinations. I had no clue what I was supposed to do next, but Said assured me that not only would payment simply go through directly onto my card from his system, but that my credits would be applied automatically and a receipt would be emailed within minutes.

It felt SO strange to simply stop and hop out of a taxi without a tangible exchange of payment, but Said was right! Not even 2 minutes later, I received an email receipt showing me my fare and the application of my credits. That was it!

bey-hailo

All in all, it was a fabulous girls’ night out. If you’re in Toronto, make sure to check out Summer/Winterlicious when hit hits town, and give Hailo a spin if it’s available in your city! And of course – if you can get your hands on Mrs. Carter World Tour tickets, do the right thing and GO!

What was your best girls’ night out? Let me know! 

%d bloggers like this: