A new block party is coming to Abbotsford Convent this weekend

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A new block party is coming to Abbotsford Convent this weekend

Words by Jasper Lear

BHM Festival is bringing together the heart of Afro-influenced house music from Whitehart Bar, Afrocan Days, and the electrifying live band, Gospel Sundays.

Uniting them in the appropriately titled Afrocan Days v Gospel Sundays Block Party. Combining these two musical powerhouses alongside an array of workshops, panels, and food, the Afrocan Days v Gospel Sundays Block Party anticipates a day of music, dancing, expression, listening, and community. With free entry before 5pm, it is pretty hard to find an excuse not to go!

On a sunny late winter afternoon, Joshua Tavares — organiser of BHM Festival (alongside Chris NG from Afrocan Days) — gave us the rundown.

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When they aren’t a vocalist in Gospel Sundays, you might know them from the Collingwood Underground Roller Disco, or just generally running friendly, community-orientated events. They told us that first and foremost, this block party is “family-friendly, all ages, all abilities, we want everyone there that can be there … everyone’s welcome, however they are, to come along and celebrate.”

Giving us a sneak peek into the day’s festivities, Joshua mentioned there will be panellists and discussions, activities for younger ones as well as dance workshops and other fun things to do hosted by Yarra Libraries.

“We want your grandchildren to come or your grandparents to come,” Tavares said.

You might have seen one of BHM Festival’s events around town during July. The block party is part of a series of events celebrating contemporary cultures and heritages in line with BlaK History Month. They curate events according to the heterogenous way in which culture is expressed. These events are expressed through (but are definitely not limited to) cultural forms such as spoken word, art, music, and food.

Outside of the month of July Joshua and Chris intend to promote community-friendly events, to break down the stigma of social housing, build pride and resilience, and celebrate connections with people – as seen with the Collingwood Underground Roller Disco. Largely, their events are a way “to go into more spaces and celebrate cultures and subcultures…cultures that don’t really sometimes get represented”.

In the past they celebrated monuments to community building and recognition such as Tavares Lane in Collingwood. Tavares Lane is the first occasion in the City of Yarra where a street is respectfully named after a non-colonial name, named after a person of colour, from public housing, and from the African diaspora.

This year they intend to continue to focus on the question of representation, or more specifically, the lack of spaces for representation. The block party exists as a space of solidarity. They want “people to come and celebrate…who they are, in a way that is authentic and true for them.”

“Using different vehicles, whether it be art, food, music. All the ways that culture is expressed. For us to come together and celebrate.”

The logical next step for this year’s BlaK History Month is the celebration of more people and all people — creating spaces that celebrate cultures both past and contemporary. In this series, each week of July offers events that are informed by a thematic, key to understanding community and all events are produced with full first nations involvement and programming (their first week for instance kicking off the program with NAIDOC celebrations and events).

Unconstrained and interdisciplinary, they produce this wide array of events by having “a seed of ideas and programming that grows and grows and grows.” The schedule for this month has been guided by the intention to foster working with others and building pride, resilience, and connections.

The main point is don’t miss Afrocan Days v Gospel Sundays Block Party on Saturday 22 July. It runs from midday to 10pm at the Abbotsford Convent. It is free (before 5pm), accessible, and all the money raised on the day (from the bar and tickets) is directed towards continuing Joshua and Chris’ Collingwood Housing Estate community efforts.

Be sure to reach out to the organisers if there are any financial barriers stopping you from going and catch DJs, live performances, workshops, discussion panels, and good food and drink.

In the wise words of Joshua Tavares…

“We are hoping to build on this, and we are hoping that people come out and have a good time with us. And if people want to get involved, please! Yes! Let’s throw some more parties. Let’s do some more stuff that brings us all together.”

Find out more info here or grab tickets here.

This article was made in partnership with BHM Festival.