Well, the week has finally arrived.
The most stressful, emotionally triggering, crazy commercial, make it or break it for couples, desperately seeking singles nightmare of a week.
Of course, I am talking about Valentine's Day week. But have no fear, I have found the secret to this week; forget Valentine's Day and instead celebrate LOVE. I know, I know that seems super simple, but you would be surprised at how quickly we all forget that celebrating love is so much nicer than celebrating Valentine's Day.
So instead of being that person who will be frantically driving to your local Safeway or CVS come Thursday, slamming your car into the last available parking spot, that is of course, furthest from the front door and grabbing up the last dozen wilted roses or crushed box of chocolates "Keep Calm and Love."
In the last few months love has been on my mind quite a bit. When we are loved, truly loved, there is no better feeling. But sometimes we miss love because we are not paying attention. Love comes in many forms from ourselves, partners, spouses, parents, children, friends, pets and the list goes on. We have to make sure that we are open to love and that we surround ourselves with love to truly be our better selves. With the idea of love, in all its forms, I recently sat down with Aya De Leon to interview her about her long running Valentine's Day event LOVE FEST, happening this Thursday at La Pena in Berkeley, now in it's 16th year.
Miz Chris [MC]: How long have you lived in the Bay Area?
Aya De Leon [AD]: Since I was 3.
[MC]: What inspired you to start Love Fest?
[AD]: In 1995, it started as a public reading for a black women's community workshop I was running.
In 1996, I was getting ready to marry myself and thinking about self- love (I was a June bride). I had been single for many years and every time Valentine's Day came around, I was bitter and resentful. How could a holiday about love inspire so much hate? So I started a community celebration with a focus on self-love.
[MC]: Sixteen years is a great run. Why do you think that Love Fest has lasted so long?
[AD]: There's always some new form of love to celebrate. After the invasion of Iraq, I added celebrating peace. During the 2004 election I added celebration of democracy. In 2004 and 2005, I did big public self-marriage ceremonies. Then we did it again in 2009 after the election and celebrated self-marriage as a form of same sex marriage in defiance of the passage of Prop. 8.
I had my daughter in Fall 2009, so I did another Love Fest in 2010, my first big event as a mom. But in 2011 and 2012, the holiday fell on a Monday and Tuesday. What I know after doing this so long is that those aren't such great nights for a show. So I decided to practice self-love as a working mom and skip those years since the attendance was likely to be low. But since last year was a leap year, this year it falls on a Thursday and we're back!
[MC]: What can we expect this year from Love Fest?
[AD]: In another act of self-love as a working mom, I invited Micia Mosely to be my co-host. Micia has been a guest at Love Fest before and is not only hilarious, but is also a woman on a very deep and committed journey of self-love and self-realization.
I'm thrilled and honored to have Valerie Troutt on the bill. What a musical powerhouse. Also on her own profound path of self-love. Lisa Marie Rollins has some new work that I'm excited to see, and Poetry for the People will be in the house, as well.
Also, it's a party! DJ Trinity will be spinning and we'll have candy and door prizes. It's always a lot of fun.
[MC]: What other things are coming up for you in the near future?
[AD]: My biggest project (other than my daughter) is a novel I'm trying to sell. A sexy, feminist heist caper where a Puerto Rican former sex worker builds a crew of renegade escorts and becomes the modern day Robin Hood of women's health care.
[MC]: Sounds hot! How can folks keep up with you and your future endeavors?
[AD]: If folks wanna keep up with me check out my Facebook page.
So fellow readers with love in mind I have put together a listing of events this Week/End in the YaY! Area that is sure to tickle your fancy. Check out any or all these events. Have a great week/end filled with love and I hope to see you out and about at any or all these events!
BLACK GIRL DANGEROUS: MIA MACKENZIE ON BEING A QUEER BLACK FEMME NERD IN A RIDICULOUS WORLD
UC Berkeley Multicultural Center, Hearst Field, Annex D
Join writer and Black Girl Dangerous creator Mia McKenzie as she reads her non-fiction and fiction work at this free community event! New writing guaranteed to make you laugh/cry/scream a little. You don't want to miss it!
Get McKenzie's new book, "The Summer We Got Free," in advance and she'll sign it for you. Limited copies may also be available at the event.
McKenzie is the creator of Black Girl Dangerous, a multi-faceted forum for the literary and artistic expression of queer and trans* people of color. She studied writing at the University of Pittsburgh. She's a smart, scrappy Philadelphian with a deep love of vegan pomegranate ice cream and fake fur collars. She's a black feminist and a freaking queer. You can find her short stories in The Kenyon Review and make/shift. Her debut novel, "The Summer We Got Free," has been described by author and critic Jewelle Gomez as "a brilliant tapestry filled with exuberance and anxiety.” Her work has been recommended by The Root, Colorlines, Feministing, Angry Asian Man and Crunk Feminist Collective, among others.
FOLLIES & DOLLIES VALENTINE DAY SHOW
6551 Telegraph, Oakland
This show is going to be about love! It's the day before the day of Lovers. This year we are in the mood for love!
Come alone or bring a date. We are hosting our very own version of the Dating Game. The "hostess with the mostess" Cemora Valentino-Devine will be one of the contestants. Three lucky bachelors will have a chance to win a date with incomparable Cemora!
This is Follies & Dollies three year anniversary come celebrate with us!
This month cast includes:
Jack Cox, Hosting the Dating Game
Alex. U. Inn
and special guest, Pepe Pan
16TH ANNUAL LOVE FEST
3105 Shattuck, Berkeley
All ages - $18 cover
"An alternative celebration in spoken word and music focused on love of self, community, spirit and beyond." This event is back after a two year hiatus. We hope that you are just as excited as we are!!!
Co-Hosted by Micia Mosely
Advanced tickets available: http://16thannuallovefest.eventbrite.com/
Special guests include:
Lisa Marie Rollins
Poetry for the People
Live performances featuring:
✶After Party w/ DJ Trinity on the 1's & 2's✶
As always, the focus of this alternative celebration will focus beyond erotic and romantic love, on love of self, community, family and spirit. Door prizes and goodies as usual.
$15 students/seniors & advanced tix: http://16thannuallovefest.eventbrite.com/
$18 at the door
Celebrate love in an all women community social this Valentine’s day. “Festival of Love” is Siren’s way of joining the 1 Billion Rising across the globe, on Feb. 14. The evening includes interactive games led by theatre and party games mavens, performances by local talents, Roke’s signature Mindful Speed Connect merry-go-round and dance. In between you will have time to chat or chill over delicious delicacies and drinks, get your photo taken while you try out various costumes and hats and spend intimate time with your loved one(s). Immerse yourself in mirth, mischief, merrymaking and magic. Come alone, with your partner(s), lover(s) or friend(s) - tonight is for everyone!
FLOW OF THE EVENING
- 7:30 p.m. "Playful Introduction" - Interactive Games to get to know each other.
- 8:00 p.m. "Let's Feel Love" - A show by community talents - poets, speakers, dancers, storytellers, performers,musicians and others. Sit back, enjoy the show and relax over a drink.
- 8:30 p.m. "Mindful Speed Connect merry-go-round" for those who are open to new connections in one room OR "Sweet Time" for partners, lovers and friends who want to "quality time" in another room.
- 9:30 p.m. “Dance for Love” to the tunes of love songs, a mix of sexy, sensuous and sweet tunes, some oldies and some latest till 11:30 pm.
- Scent-free event in a wheelchair-accessible venue two blocks from 12th St. BART
- Hors d'oeuvres, desserts and house drinks served throughout the evening
- No-host bar with wine, beer and non-alcoholic beverages
- We are all for style and freedom. Come dressed to impress or as you are. Love costumes? Hats? Leather or silk? Masks? Bring in on!
ERA Art Bar
19 Grand Ave., Oakland
9 p.m. to 1:30 a.m.
Era Art Bar and Lounge presents a very special Valentine's day exclusive!
Were are inviting all yee lovers, friends as well as single folks out there to come dance away to the sounds of DJ Hector!
Voted best DJ in the East Bay, resident DJ Hector will spin your favorite R&B, Soul, Hiphop, Dancehall Reggae, World music, Soulful House.
Dress Code: Dress to impress ... Creative fashionable attire.
We invite singles, lovers and party people to come enjoy cocktails, and fantastic music as we celebrate L.O.V.E!!!
ONE BILLION RISING
Frank Ogawa Plaza, Oakland
4 to 7 p.m.
GLOBAL STRIKE TO END VIOLENCE AGAINST WOMEN
One in three women (over one billion worldwide) will be sexually assaulted or beaten in her lifetime. One in four boys under the age of 18 will suffer the same fate. The devastation that ensues affects us all.
Please join Oakland - and communities around the world - in "One Billion Rising," the first-ever coordinated GLOBAL strike, aimed at putting an end to the violence. With a focus on *dance,* One Billion Rising gives local women, men and families the opportunity to join together and bring attention to this critical issue, in an empowering way.
YES, we realize this event is at least partially during work hours on a business day. YES, we are asking you to step outside of your normal schedule. YES, we are asking you to symbolically break the cycle with us!
This will be a day for us to come together and say ENOUGH. A day of community and support. A single day when organizers *around the world* will unite in movement, silence and love. A day when we will rise above the pain and violence and we will DANCE in the face of oppression.
Will you join us?
Aya de Leon - a writer/performer working in poetry, fiction, and hip hop theater. Her work has received acclaim in the Village Voice, Washington Post, American Theatre Magazine and has been featured on Def Poetry, Essence Magazine and various anthologies and journals. She was named best discovery in theater for 2004 by the SF Chronicle for “Thieves in the Temple: The Reclaiming of Hip Hop,” a solo show about fighting sexism and commercialism in hip hop.
Raquel Gutiérrez - cut her teeth on Los Angeles performance art when she interned and house managed at Highways Performance Space in 2000. Raquel is a performance writer, playwright and cultural organizer, studied in university settings and performed in a variety of locations, like the Salvadoran countryside, cabarets, galleries, San Antonio, more universities, Pico-Union, etc.
Chinaka Hodge - a poet, playwright and screenwriter. Originally from Oakland, California, Chinaka graduated from NYU in 2006 and is currently pursuing her M.F.A. in Writing for Film and TV at USC’s School of Cinematic Arts. Chinaka was a member of the U.S. Artist Delegation to the World Social Forum in Nairobi, Kenya in early 2007.
Carrie Leilam Love - a writer and community artist from Oakland. She was a real book nerd growing up, so it surprised no one when she received an MFA in creative writing from San Francisco State University. She likes to write poems and stories about people struggling to love themselves and each other, which is totally the dominant narrative of the human condition.
Dawn Robinson - a genderqueer writer and filmmaker who calls Oakland home. Dawn is a two-time Lambda Literary Foundation Emerging Writer, and seeks a wider conversation on issues of race, gender and sexuality and firmly believes in the organic creative spark in each of us; the work we do is part of a global continuum of gratitude, rage, rebirth and irreverence.
Featured in the HBO Documentary "Asians Aloud," Kit Yan - tells stories through slam poetry from the lens of a queer and transgender Asian American from Hawaii who travels all over the world on tour. Through touching love poems, coming out stories, and comedic tales of his childhood.
Massive Selector, fresco & Top Ten Social come together to bring something fun to Oakland - BIG FUN, an evening of quality music and positive vibrations to get you in the mood to move! We're geeked to have our good friend and international party rocker, Rich Medina join in on the fun. Rich has been taking discerned dance floors on a sonic journey through hip-hop, house, afrobeat, funk/soul, for almost 20 years. Music lovers worldwide know not to miss a night when he's on the decks. Come see why Rich Medina is your favorite DJ's favorite DJ! Also in the mix are local heroes Proof & Hakobo. Hosted by Top Ten Social. BIG FUN goes down on Friday, Feb. 15 at Era Art Bar in Oakland. Celebrating the birthdays of Hakobo & Michael Orange!
RICH MEDINA along with
TOP TEN SOCIAL
THE MANHATTAN TRANSFER
510 Embarcadero West, Oakland
Grammy-Award winning jazz/pop vocal group, The Manhattan Transfer celebrate more than 40 years together with a romantic Valentine's Weekend at Yoshi's.
The platinum selling, world-wide chart topping super group, widely renowned for broadening the musical landscape with their innovative, genre defying sound, made Grammy history in 1981 by becoming the first group to win Grammys simultaneously in both the jazz and pop categories. The group also put out the second most honored album in pop history in 1985 with Vocalese, earning an impressive 12 Grammy nominations, surpassed only by Michael Jackson’s "Thriller" at the time. Produced by Tim Hauser, Vocalese become known as the group’s tour de force effort, with Jon Hendricks, the recognized master of this art, composing all of the lyrics for the album. To date, The Manhattan Transfer has won 10 Grammys and has been nominated for 17.
ONE NIGHT ONLY IN OAKLAND
FRIDAY, Feb. 22
28 models, 10 designers, special appearances and so much more. To get the full scoop click here!
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