I’m at Kaos in Leimert Park at an event called The Darkroom Chronicles featuring the talents of REAL8, Ashley Blakeney, Najee, and Jade. They’ve been working on this event for months and I’m kind of anxious to see what they have in store for us. The space is a beautiful realization of Ashley’s vision – a single red lamp lighting up the room as we all mingle with each other.
Ashley has curated the perfect playlist for us. Moving from a lazy Miles Davis trumpet solo, into The Roots’ ‘Sleep’, and then to Foreign Exchange’s ‘Daykeeper’, the soundtrack to tonight’s event is subconsciously preparing us for… something.
I wasn’t ready. The music faded, there was slight dip in the murmur of multiple conversations and then Ashley took the stage. And then silence. From four corners of the room, Ashley, Damon, Najee and Jade created an experience through their words. It was intense, to say the least. It was amazing. It was heartbreaking. It was healing. It was powerful.
I want to save the experience for myself – and for those who were there – but that space was dark. The poems were dark. Very dark. For the performers, it was a space to heal and to express. But we are spirits first and when we release energy it has to go somewhere. Collectively, Ashley, Damon, Jade and Najee shared a 25+ year weight. Where does all that pain and sadness go? I wonder.
The experience closed with Ashley’s thanks. We applauded and I watched as the mood shifted and the tension left. Hugs were given and received as we pressed into and out of each other. Laughter as Ashley spun around and around in her winged dress and plenty of photographs of friends supporters.
As I said goodbye, I met the gorgeous Modupe who shared with me how her writer’s block had been lifted during the experience. Now I realized the energy didn’t go anywhere, but in the moments of release it had been transformed into whatever Modupe would go home to write tonight. Into the laughter. Into the hugs.
So thank you Ashley, Najee, Jade and Damon for sharing this. Thank you.