Picture this: over 100 badass women selling handcrafted jewelry, paintings, homemade Haitian “limonade,” henna, real tattoos, and energy-cleansing sessions; there’s a lineup of talented female rappers, DJs, drummers, AcroYogis and musicians until the sun almost rises around 4 a.m.
That is Planet X, an event organized by NYCGrind at Space X (1001 Irving Ave.) in Ridgewood.
Sadly, Planet X comes just once a year; but NYCGrind hosts weekly open mic nights across Bushwick and is promising to deliver an incredible Halloween bash. If Planet X is any indication, these shows will all be worth checking out.
The two gals running NYCGrind, Safiel Vonay and See Santana started it as a small open mic night series in the basement of a church in Queens to showcase local talent. They later started Planet X to bring together a strong community of female artists. Women of color, the LGBTQIA+ community, and any other local like-minded feminists and art lovers come from all over the area to showcase their talent.
“As an artist, a PR professional, a business woman, and an art curator, I’m always in a million places at once,” Santana says. “Vonay and I work so well together because we’re both extremely hardworking people.”
“Sometimes we get in actual arguments about passion, because we’re both SO passionate about what we do,” Vonay laughs. “We’re just always on that NYC grind, you know?”
With nearly 500 attendees enjoying rounds of “30 seconds on the mic and then we pass it,” a mind-blowing drum performance from Anastasiya Kostromina, a few Heinekens, and maybe a $30 tattoo from Tattoo Kingdom, it’s nearly impossible not to get lost in conversation with the impassioned vendors. Each artist brings an enviable amount of talent to the table, and they’re all here for the same reason at heart: female pride and empowerment.
“I started making my own jewelry, because I don’t like how girls often feel like they have to conform to a certain look,” says Tashiann Frasier, a business student at Pace University and the founder of handmade jewelry company, Girl Strike. “I’m a business woman, a non-conformist and an artist, and I want others to feel like they can stray from the norm, too.”
Between Talia, painting works of torso art to beautifully “free the nipple,” and Olivia Georgette, selling homemade prints of women of all sizes and skin tones, the event exudes an incredible amount of body positivity.
“I started creating these designs, because growing up, I didn’t feel like a lot of the art I saw glorified black women. I felt like seeing a body that looked like mine in art or in the media was really uncommon,” says Georgette. “I wanted to recognize women of all backgrounds and sizes.”
Santana and Vonay look forward to doubling next year’s turnout. In the future, they plan for Planet X to be a renowned name in the world of feminism. But for now, they’re focused on tonight’s open mic at Bushwick Public House and the secret Halloween party on Oct. 31 with a $100 costume contest.
“We hope to grow Planet X into a well known event, catering to the female artist, and to bring more creatives, artists, art collectors and individuals into Planet X and into all of our NYCGrind events. Expect even more artists, more diverse talent and more beautiful people next year!” says Vonay.
As I’m leaving Space X, my voice is barely a whisper from relentless cheering and my feet are pounding from dancing all night. I’m now following at least 40 new dope female artists on Instagram and I’ve made promises to email several of them to stay in touch.
Make sure to follow TheGrindNYC on Instagram and to lookout for more of their wildly feel-good events. Your soul won’t be disappointed in the slightest.
Cover image courtesy of TheGrindNYC