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Tight deadlines,late nights and early mornings #coffeelovers

Tight deadlines,late nights and early mornings;

these are the conditions by which coffee was created.

Below is some stunning photography by New York based photographer  Lucio Bracamontes, from The Coffee Bar located in Washington DC.

I love the latte art, contemporary, yet rustic interior, and most importantly the dedication by the barista; the devoted artisan who knows how to give us the best start of the day.

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http://techtalk.currys.co.uk/cooking-home-appliances/coffee-crazy-where-do-you-find-your-coffee-inspiration/

Afroblush to take on Kuduro / Afro House dance class at @LatinoAfro

I’ve been looking for something fun, sexy and exciting to do in London after work, that doesn’t include eating, alcohol or both; and I figured what better than dance?

Being African by birth and Latino by heart (ha), I love Afro House and AfroLatino dance music. One of my closest friends has been trying to get me Kizomba classes for the longest time and I finally think it’s time I got involved. So I’ve decided, I’ll be starting an 8 week Kudoro and Afro House dance class in London’s Old Street, hosted by Studio AfroLatino http://www.studioafrolatino.com/… starting next Tuesday!

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It’s a fun and fierce opportunity to discover Kuduro, a style of music and dance developed in Angola in the 1980’s. Initially, producers sampled traditional carnival music like soca and zouk from the Caribbean, and also semba from Angola and laid this around a fast 4/4 beat.

Studio AfroLatino is also the powerhouse behind this years Batuke Festival that took place over this summer. The batuke Project provided an opportunity for dance students, dance enthusiasts to develop their dance and performance technique through performance at BATUKE!

Sadly I missed the Batuke Festival this year, but it will be mine for the taking in 2015.

I’m going to have an absolute blast at during the course of this Kuduro class, so if you think you might be interested too, get in touch with Studio AfroLatino, the classes are £52 for the 8 weeks. More importnatly, if you do decide to join, let me know! Reach me on twitter (@afroblush), email or I’ll just see you there ;-)

Kuduro Fact: 

“The name of the dance was referring to a peculiar movement in which the dancers seem to have a hard ass (“Cu Duro” in Portuguese), simulating an aggressive and agitated dance style.” #justsayin

Also loving this playlist on Spotify: https://play.spotify.com/user/1126774258/playlist/3zbutLhEOuEyCBm23K2FP6

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More about Studio Afro-Latino

Studio AfroLatino have in house teams as well as popular dance teams they work in with regularly. They currently  showcases available in:

> Salsa Dance
> Tango
> Brasilian Show with live singing
> Afro-Cuban dance
> African traditional
> Afro contemporary
> Afro-Tango
> African dance troupes

http://www.studioafrolatino.com/who-we-are.html

 

Omari Dixon, Emmanuel Lawal, April Alexander, Kae Kae present ’The Origin’ #Africa #Design #Illustration

 

Photography by Jo’lene Henry

Print design by Katarina Voloder

Designers: Stephanie Ghoussain, Katrin Salem, Samuella Palmer

Make-up by Gina Blondell

Hair by Aaron Blondell

Style Inspiration from @stylishcurves, love this asymmetric shift dress by @monifcplussizes

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Dress: Toni” Asymetric colour block shift dress, blue by http://monifc.com/

 

Detoxing into a whiter wardrobe

Good morning guys,

It’s the bank holiday weekend, and though I have wildness and loudness of Carnival tomorrow to look forward to, long weekends like this present an opportunity to sit back, detox, declutter and detatch from life in the inner city… *exhales*.

If you follow me on instagram (@afroblush), you’ll see about three weeks ago I had a wardrobe clear out. I’ve sent over half of my clothes to charities in order to free up space (my closet and in my mind), as there is nothing more irritating than sifting through loads of clothes you know you don’t need and/or want.

Since freeing up a bit more space, I’m hoping to gradually re sculpt my closet collections, and maybe even revamp my personal style.

I find that orchestrating a whiter wardrobe requires as much of a mental overhaul as it will a physical one. I’m craving purity and calmness right now, and appreciating how many designers explored the soothing potential of white.

Here are some of my style inspirations: 

 

 

Everyday Africa, Koforidua – The capital of the Eastern Region, Ghana

 http://everydayafrica.tumblr.com/

Notting Hill Carnival and my summer personality #Barbados @NewLookFashion

In the run up to Notting Hill Carnival this bank holiday weekend, I’m getting fully prepared to indulge in the fun, food and fashion surrounding Europe’s largest street party. http://www.thenottinghillcarnival.com/

London’s vivid spectacle representing London’s multicultural past and present is always highlighted in my calendar and holds a special place in my heart as the capitals Afro-Caribbean communities come to gather to rejoice and revel in live music ranging from reggae to dub to salsa, soca floats, steel bands, uplifting beats, jerk chicken and fried plantain food stalls, and much more.

 

Pictures from Notting Hill Carnival 2013

And so it didn’t come as a surprise that ended up with Barbados in New Look’s holiday vs. personality quiz, so whether you’re a sun seeker like me, bohemian darling or all about the rock ‘n’ roll feel,  have a crack at the quiz and let me know what summer personality you are.

Holiday Vs. Festival Summer Personality Quiz by New Look

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Capture

 

If you are a Caribbean queen like myself and make it down to Carnival this bank holiday weekend, be sure to send your snaps on Twitter and/or Instagram (@afroblush) as I’d love to see and share the fun!

 My Bajan inspired best buys from New Look 

Red and Blue Leaf Gemstone Necklace, £14.99Black African Stripe Pencil Skirt, £14.99Wide Fit Silver Chunky Ankle Strap Heels, £24.99Orange Metal Bar Back Cami, £14.99

Africa Fashion Week London – my thoughts (uncensored) #AFWL

It’s that time of year again… Africa Fashion Week London…2014

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It was the time of year again where designers, fashion enthusiasts and Africa’s culture collectives come together to celebrate Africa Fashion Week London. I’ve been attending Africa Fashion Week London since its inception four years ago, and this year, as promised, was a colourful assortment of fashion and design from in and around the continent.

I met up with Caitlin Leslie (@AperitifCaitlin), marketing mogul from Farfetch.com, Emma Amoafo, founder/designer of Friday Born Designs and bloggers Maryam Bitege, owner of Creativ Junkie ; and Mary Desola Adeniyi, founder of  popgoesfashion.com to indulge in the latest developments from some of Africa’s most sought after designers, and catch a glimpse of what we can expect to see in the way of fashion from the diaspora.

Firstly, let’s be honest, AFWL isn’t really a Fashion Week is it?

As a whole, African Fashion Week London doesn’t give me the same level of excitement as it used to, and regrettably this isn’t so much down to the fashion itself, as much as the quality and execution of the event. Hosted in London’s Kensington Olympia’s main hall, this year’s event was a runway show, in the middle of a standard selection of African cuisine, a less than satisfactory VIP section, and a predictable selection of African market stalls (with the exception of Kiyana Wraps!).

Tickets for Africa Fashion Week London retail to the general public at £20 for unreserved seats, whilst VIP tickets with access to all shows, complimentary orange/apple juice and bread and chilli snacks range between £50-£70. I believe everybody I know who went were given a complimentary tickets, so I can’t help but feel anyone who sincerely bought tickets for AFWL must have felt hard done by.

There were over two hour interval between shows, with little or nothing for visitors to do in between, and repeat performances by Afrobeats pop singer Valentine, and his shirtless entourage, which was so incredibly cringe. I guess the silver lining was that as unforgiving as this post must sound so far, Africa Fashion Week London 2014 was significantly more palatable than the previous year.

https://twitter.com/NoScrunchie/status/503105967538855936

Thankfully, I didn’t come for the frills, I came for the fashion.

I was most excited to see Sylvia Owori, KassKouture, RAAH, Fyyfe and of course Adama Paris; all of whom showcased collections that were very impressive and inspirational.

Sylvia Owori

I’ll start by congratulating my fellow Ugandan (whoop) Sylvia Owori, a leading fashion powerhouse, publisher and entrepreneur, who I admire greatly for championing global environmental change through her designs. Her prints are purely African with fabrics are tailored from her workshop in Mukono.

This year Sylvia debuted a tropical and electric collection comprising of mainly silk jumpsuits and dresses that although had a contemporary palette, had a vintage 1960’s style. Striking and exciting!

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RAAH Designs 

Next on my love list for the night was the ready-to-wear fashion brand RAAH designs, owned by Rahima Mohamed, who debuting her collection “Fly/Fly High”. RAAH designs, was the collections of all collections that given the chance, I would have bought there and then. I found myself repeatedly saying “OMG,  I love/need/want that”.

The designs were sophisticated and edgy, bold and yet still approachable. Rightly so, the collection received praise from the New African Woman Editor-in-Chief, Jane Jere and AFWL Founder Ronke Ademiluyi among others on the success of the showcase.

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Adama Paris 

The collection I endured the day for was by Senegalese designer, Adama Paris. I met and sat on a panel with Adama earlier this year at Cambridge University (read more here), where we discussed the future of African fashion. Adama Paris, is the real thing. She is the unstoppable force behind Black Fashion Week in Prague, Czech Republic, Bahia, Brazil, and this year for the first time in Toronto Canada.

With the lights down low, her models appeared on stage in a multi-coloured ocean of chiffon dresses, flooding the stage like beautifully spilt paint. It was truly mesmerising and worth the wait. Surprisingly, Adama seemed uncomfortable in receiving praise for her collection and hurried off the stage, with a look of what I would guess was dissatisfaction?!

Whatever the reason, her collection was as astonishing as I expected.

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This isn’t the first time I’ve expressed my confusion with African Fashion Week London, as I feel the event as a whole doesn’t give credit to the fashion itself. It’s a showcase, yes, but it is not a ‘Fashion Week’, and falls so way below any other international fashion week I’ve been witness to. It lacks the exclusivity, presentation and value (especially to paying visitors). Additionally, as an African, in London, who knows a bit about fashion, the perceived connotations of the  title are slightly misleading and that makes me quite uncomfortable.

Nevertheless, despite my objections, it is a stage for African designers, up-coming talent and visual inspiration; and for that I am thankful.

Follow me on Instagram @afroblush

https://twitter.com/BrownBeautyTalk/status/502899777005453312

https://twitter.com/ronkelawal/status/503099850297450496

https://twitter.com/joyfuljoyous/status/503119023656431616

https://twitter.com/elizabethadina/status/503183772800802817

Music I Love: JUNGLE – Easy Earnin’

This week I’ve been wrapped up in this the soul infused, self entitled album by UK duo ‘JUNGLE’.

The Marvin Gaye and Curtis Mayfield inspired melodies, bring back sultry, melancholic and funk like qualities that are so effortless to listen to; especially on a Sunday afternoon such as this.

Only a few people I’ve spoken to know about the two behind the band (Josh and Tom), and I like that. As artists they’ve kept it more about the music than anything else. My favourite track of the album is Lemonade Lake, followed by Easy Earnin’.

Enjoy.

If you had one Last supper to enjoy, what would it be? (don’t say chips) @yourlastsupper

If tonight was your last night, and you could enjoy any meal to savor your last edible moment, what would it be?

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Granted this is a deep question, and I had to think quite long and hard about it to.

My top of mind thought was spaghetti bolognese, but I’m too proud to have such an elementary dish as my last, so I will opt for: the ultimate steak with roast potatoes, doused in vinegar, and eager to swim in some fancy premium tomato ketchup. For desert, I can settle for a passion fruit cheesecake, followed by nicely roasted Kenyan (Fairtrade obvs) coffee.

Anyways, the reason I’m having this foodie conversation (apparently with myself) about my last supper, comes from a very cool concept I had the pleasure of being a part of called The Last Secret Supper Super Club; founded by photographer Lauren McClean and food stylist Lottie Covell.

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(me in between The Last Secret Supper Super Club Founders Lauren McClean Lottie Covell)

The Last Secret Supper Super Club is hosted in the Palour, the home of cosy British Cuisine by top London Chef Jesse Dunford Wood, and is an evening of edible surprises. Guests pre-submit their ideal last supper, which includes a drink, starters, mains and desert; and Jesse Dunford Wood, one of London’s top London chefs prepares three courses selected from the submitted Last Supper submissions.

 

The concept was fun and the atmosphere was super casual, I loved it, and the theme of the event is interesting enough that you can’t help but spark up a conversation with the person next to you.

I was guilty of shouting across the table asking “Who is Danny Kahoe?? I need to meet you, because this passion fruit martini is tha bomb”.

I should note that at that point, Danny was equally enthused and we high-fived very ceremoniously; and no, I don’t use the term “tha bomb” in my day to day vernacular. It was the Martini speaking.

The evening is pre-book and pay (£35), which includes the submission of your last super, and covers a drink on arrival, starters, a main meal and desert; and if your Last Supper course is served, you get £10 off your meal!

It’s loads of fun and a refreshing change from just going out to dinner, check it out.

http://lastsecretsupperclub.com/

 

 

Out with the old, in with the Ko:Kou- @KoKouElectrical #afrohair #naturalhair

I was overjoyed to receive an email from Ko Kou; who had listened to my woes on twitter about the lack of quality hair dryers for afro hair types.

They decided to take a proactive approach in introducing me to their Professional Pro Pik hairdryer, which is refreshingly contemporary in design and technology, and suitable for afro hair textures; supplemented with its anti-frizz tourmaline feature.

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I put the Pro Pik for a live test on Instagram, whilst I went through my natural hair revive session; and truthfully, it’s the Maserati of afro blow dryers, powerful, sleek and attractive. It’s a relief not to be be subject to ugly, out of date, overpriced and under performing blow dryers.

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Going natural doesn’t always mean I get to enjoy my afro the way I would like to.

Which is why protective styling techniques have since been my go-between place when trying to navigate between having healthy hair in a country with sporadic climate, hard water and a busy job that doesn’t stop.

So every six weeks, I prepare to take my hair out of whatever protective style I’ve wrapped it up in and acquire a new look, along with the replenishment of any hair products and accessories I need.

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Thanks to London’s diverse population, Harlesden and Brixton alone host enough afro hair shops to protectively style myself into the next millennium. Which is great for acquiring hair products, but not necessarily hair hardware. It’s very rare that I find a technologically advanced hair blow dryer in an afro hair shop, with the exception of the overpriced options by WAHL.

Most models look like they’ve been on the shop shelf since 1994, with sales assistants who are of the opinion that if the hair dryer has an afro pick at the end, what else do I expect?

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In contrast, the range of products for European based hair available from retailers like Boots, Debenhams and Superdrug and that offer hairdryers with fancy features like “superior nanoe technology”; whilst our budget hairdryers available across our local and very much separated hair care distributors offer below basic functionality, causing frequent overheating and harsh exposure to sensitive afro textured hair.

Having put the Ko: Kou Pro Pik through the works, I was impressed by its performance, and my wish is for products such as these to be given more accessible distribution channels to reach the wider market.

An all around great product. 

Ko: Kou Pro Pick Professional Hair Dryer: http://www.kokou.co.uk/home/products.php

  • 2000W Max Power
  • Ionic technology
  • 3 Temprature settings
  • 2 Speed Settings
  • Cool shot switch, low noise

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Samira Wiley for @Refinery29 “Hollywood’s New Power Players” #OiTNB

I am so excited for the new season of Orange is The New Black, for both the season and recognition it’s giving to new talent and women of colour! #winning

Don’t we just love Samira Wiley’s photoshoot for Refinery29?!Shot by Olivia Malone, styled by Tara Williams and make-up by Tankia McConnel.

BUNDELELE!! This video makes me feel so happy, @EzinneCeo covers @AwiloLongomba feat/ @ceodancers

I met Ezinne Asinugo and the rest of the CEO Dance group a couple of weeks back for a private African street event; they are gorgeous and so talented it’s crazy. Bringing so much energy on to the stage, they made us think the rest of us could dance! (so glad no one captured me on camera, the shame!).

This video, shot in London’s Oxford Circus, starring Ezinne Asinugo, is such a feel good video.

Loooove it!

BAR POLSKI. A vodka shot straight to my heart <3

 Bar Polski is a cosy hideaway in High Holborn, nicely tucked between Fitness First and a Thai Restaurant, and despite its location constantly reminding me that I’m not at the gym, it’s grown to be one of my favourite, and yet, relatively unknown places in London.

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Modest in its interiors, it doesn’t have the pizzazz of All Bar One, but unlike its trendy and mediocre competitors, Bar Polski stocks a host of delicious and characteristic drinks and nibbles.

With over 50 vodkas to choose from, I’ve been responsible enough not to make an attempt in trying them all; but for £3 a shot, I know many of you might! I wish you luck.

To chase the chaser, avoid the draught options and go for a Polish brew from the well-stocked fridge (Zubr, Zywiec, Tatra or Lech, perhaps). Hearty bigos stew, pierogi and amazingly satisfying combination of sausage, fries, pickles and dips.

Overall, Bar Polski, is small and unpretentious; cosy and yet never claustrophobic. It’s suitable for  W1’s inhabitants running away from ballsy bankers and lurid lawyers drunk of their own testosterone.

Head not to the likes of SWAY but to Bar Polski, and take refuge my friends, this is where the rest of us will be.

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Address:11 Little Turnstile, London, WC1V 7DX

Opening hours:Open 4-11pm Mon; 12.30-11pm Tue-Thur; 12.30-11.30pm Fri; 6-11pm Sat

Food served 4-10pm Mon; 12.30-10pm Tue-Fri; 6-10pm Sat

Transport:Tube: Holborn tube

Meeting Beverley Knight, the new star of hit musical MEMPHIS @memphismusical

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Beverley Knight, is a musical sensation with God given vocals that raise the roof and touch your heart. I had the pleasure of catching up with Beverley and Killian Donnelly at Ronnie Scott’s Jazz club to talk about their upcoming role in the hit musical MEMPHIS, set to hit the stage at London’s Shaftsbury Theatre London, this October.

(You can take a sneak peek at more photos and video’s on my instagram page @afroblush)

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Labelled as one of Britain’s greatest soul singers, the sound of Beverley Knight brings back memories of my early teens, where I made countless attempts to make my voice shake to her hit single ‘Made in Back’ in the way that only 90’s RnB artists can. So it also didn’t take me by surprise earlier this year when she brought Baroness Doreen Lawrence to tears as she performed on the Women’s Hour Takeover on the in May.

Beverley took over the role of Rachel Marron (originally performed by Whitney Houston) from performer Heather Headley in The Bodyguard the musical in September 2013; and unsurprisingly, she was nominated for Best Takeover in a Role.

So yesterday, in the cool ambiance of the famous Jazz Club Ronnie Scott, I had hearty one-on-one with Beverly about the transition from her role as Rachel Marron in The Bodyguard, and her journey transitioning from Rachel, to  Felicia Farrell in the Musical MEMPHIS; inspired by true events from the underground dance clubs of 1950’s Memphis, Tennessee.

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