When I first moved to Los Angeles, you gave me a groove home. A place to be free to express myself with like-minded, soul-funkalicious, Afro-centric, samba-poppin, marakatu-shaking, before-the-twerk-twerkin, house, cool-jazz, have a funky good time folks.
Remember when you only charged me $5 to see Fela Kuti's daughter, Yeni Kuti? Oh, you know the night: Zap Mama and a living legend decided to swing by on their way from the African market. Speaking of which, remember the African Market at U.S.C?
Anyway, I digress –back to Stevie Wonder. The man himself did an impromptu performance and only sang one song, "A Ribbon in the Sky" tribute to Ray Charles. He promptly followed up with a jaw-dropping percussion set that left the entire crowd speechless, while Zap Mama and Yeni harmonized beautiful melodies. They showcased the motherland’s authentic hip slides, dips, grinds and body rhythms that was the quintessential embodiment representation for the name of the place we joyfully gathered to worship them in all of their glory.
In passing, I would later see random people from the crowd out to dinner or around the town. We became a secret groove collective, acknowledging our elite moment in funk space and time with special code-like head nods and winks. Even though we didn’t know each other’s names, our faces were forever etched in memories from witnessing our very own special night of history in the making.
Thank you Jeremy Sole for always being there for me. Whether there were 300 people on the floor, or just three, you always played our favorite songs and respected the groove. You helped us celebrate Michael Jackson's passing in a safe zone of expression. We moonwalked, laughed and cried. You let us mourn him in our own tribute style of song and dance.
But, it wasn’t always a perfect outing. Like the one time I lost my diamond bracelet drumming with Rocky Dawuni. However, you more than made up for it when you let me in for free the night the king of “diamonds and pearls” showed up. To think my friend and I were too cool to dance with Prince...Wow, how you’ve spoiled us so!
I'll miss you so much! I've slow whined and two-stepped my way many o'time out your door and shimmied my way back in religiously for many Thursdays out of the year. Where will I go now? Who will I run to?
So it is with deep sadness that our relationship has come to an end. But, deep down in my soul, I know you’re just one funky heartbeat away. Home is not only where you hang your hat, but where you hang your shoes too. This is not goodbye, but rather see you again soon. Peace, love and Afrofunke!
P.S. Don’t forget to dance!