This article originally appeared on VICE US
Attending an Everyday People party is like entering an alternate universe where being your best and blackest self won't get you targeted by the cops or destroy your professional prospects. Instead, it's sets you up to enjoy everything that's good in life—booming music, delicious food, cold drinks, and beautiful young people.
The monthly day party is not your average bottomless brunch. You spend your afternoon whining, twerking, and swag surfing to everything from dancehall to southern rap, sincerely complimenting strangers on their Afrocentric ensembles, and subconsciously escaping the challenges that come with being a person of color in America. It's also nothing like stuffy nightclubs. There is no strict dress code that bars sneakers or do-rags or jerseys. Instead, Everyday People exposes brothers and sisters from all socio-economic backgrounds, genders, and subcultures to each other. The event is so hot that celebrities like Jidenna, Erykah Badu, and SWV have all dropped by to join in the revelry.
The party was co-founded in 2012 by 29-year-old entrepreneur Saada Ahmed. Alongside Mohamed "DJ mOma" Hamad and celebrity chef Roblé Ali, the Kenyan-born Atlanta native just wanted to bring black people together in a more inclusive environment. Their first parties were typical brunch events hosted at the Rivington Hotel in New York City, catered by Chef Roblé with 200 guests. Today, Everyday People happens all over the nation, in cities like LA and Atlanta, with more than 2,500 attendees enjoying snacks from food trucks and live performances by artists like Princess Nokia and Yeek.
I caught up with Saada Ahmed at June's Everyday People party at La Marina in uptown Manhattan to talk about the gathering's evolution and the service it provides for young black people who yearn for a space where they can feel safe to be themselves.
VICE: Describe the atmosphere at Everyday People.
Saada Ahmed: If you've never been, the photos can be really intimidating because there are a lot of beautiful people, a lot of fashionable people. One thing that people will soon realize when they attend is it's a very welcoming environment. It's not pretentious. People like to have a good time. People like to dance. No one's just standing around taking Instagram photos. That's one thing that a lot of people have told me is that they feel like it's a very fun, safe environment. You can be yourself. You don't have to put on airs.
Why do you think it's necessary for black people to have safe spaces like Everyday People?
Because historically we haven't. People are shocked our event has lasted this long because they think a black or "urban" event is violent. They think people are fighting. We don't have any incidents like that. It's a place where people can come together. It's important for people to come somewhere and not feel uncomfortable or threatened and first and foremost feel free.
Who might feel intimidated attending Everyday People?
There have been people who've told me, "Oh I'm not cool enough to go to that party" or "I'm not fashionable." And I'm like, it has nothing to do with that. The name is called Everyday People. There are people from all walks of life who attend. I think the only people who would feel intimidated are white people because they are the minority at the event. Sometimes they have never been in a minority in a space like that, but they're welcome just as much as anyone else is.
Who are the "everyday people"?
You can be a broke 21-year-old musician or a 30-year-old investment banker. You name it. Even celebrities, but you're going to have to mingle with the rest of us. So it's bringing different types of black people together. It's not like we're monolithic, so obviously it's going to bring a variety of people. That's what makes it special. You might meet someone who would never be in your social circle or in your environment. It's important to celebrate our differences. The media doesn't show us in that way at all, and it's unfortunate. Creating these places gives other black people exposure to different types of black people. The more we get to know each other and understand each other, the more unified we can become.
What does Everyday People represent?
The people. It represents joy, freedom, creativity, and acceptance. People have told me it was the first time that they felt like they could be free. The fact that other people have come up to me and have been grateful—those things are important to me to continue doing that, to continue making people feel that way.
What's the most rewarding part about throwing Everyday People?
People having a good time. People having fun—especially now. The world that we live in, you get so stressed out over Trump... For people to let go and have a good time and at least forget for a few hours, that's what makes me happy. And if I can get a love connection or two, I like that, too.
This interview was edited for clarity and length. Scroll down for more pictures!
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