When I ran into one of my favorite recent graduates, Ashley, on campus last Thursday, I wasn’t surprised to see her infamous camera bag glued to her hip alongside her model of the day. Before running off to yet another remarkable photo shoot, she told me about a “thing” she was hosting at her house the following night. As soon as she mentioned music, art, and coziness, I was sold. I jotted the address down in my phone and started plotting.
As I browsed the Facebook event page, however, my enthusiasm quickly turned into apprehension.
G.R.E.E.D.Y. City is a “G.eneration R.ighteously E.nduring to E.radicate D.ying Y.oung.” It is a collective of young artists, some of whom live together in the greedy city house, “an old victorian space being converted into a “live/work space” in south Los Angeles.” Thirdspace was described powerfully as “another place to exist” and “a chance to get up close and personal with the artist in a safe space that is open for honest dialog and honest music sprinkled throughout the night!”
Wait,… this sounds legit. How am I gonna fit in with actual artists? This is the type of stuff that the artsy professionals go to. I’m just a student. What am I going to wear? I’m sure everyone will be too fly to handle. I’m not even gonna know anyone there. I convinced myself to stay away after the first glance, only to change my mind an hour later in the name of taking chances.
I woke up sick the next morning and had an extremely rough day. After a full 8-8 of sneeze-ridden RA training, I walked outside to a stolen bike tire, (I’m on my THIRD bike at USC. My last two were stolen…in cold blood). I wasn’t dismissed from training until 8:20pm, almost half an hour after Thirdspace was set to begin and my car was parked on a sketchy street on the other side of the 110 fwy. After a few prayers and a call to Campus Cruiser, I found the will to throw on a dress and headed out, in hopes to redeem my day.
I walked up a creepily dark street and my eyes gravitated towards the blue strobe lights dancing to a strong Latino beat. I was relieved as soon as I approached the Victorian styled home to see a candle lit room showcasing a man and a guitar in the window. “Oh, this must be it. Thank God!”
I cautiously opened the front door, feeling like a confused trespasser. A young woman greeted me from the couch. “Um, is Ashley here?” I asked nervously. “I feel like a creeper.” “Haha, she’s in the back,” she responded. “Thanks for coming.”
YES for nice people, I thought. I walked into a dimly lit room full of a few familiar faces and many perfect strangers. It was intimate to say the least. Pillows cushioned the hardwood floor. Beautiful women and kind men crowded the room, facing the two wooden chairs near the front window. The room was unbearably hot, but we silently agreed that the heat was a price we were willing to pay for this unforgettable experience.
“Time to get started.” A voice shouted from behind. I turned around to see Damon Turner (Real 8) skipping through the crowd, unashamedly rocking his GREEDY City t-shirt. He quickly introduced the team and the star of the night was up within no time. William Hawkins softly strummed his guitar alongside his accompaniment, Pete, and shared a beautiful set of honest songs from his latest project, Desperate. The personal stories interwoven between each selection forced me into deep thought on my past relationships and current state of being. The realness was deafening.
Just when I knew I had had enough, he introduced the special guest of the evening. There’s MORE?, I thought. Bridget Barkan playfully graced the “stage,” cup in hand. On a borrowed guitar, she instantly captivated the audience with her first sound. I sat in awe, marveling at her cool and raw talent. At one point I even shouted, “Where’s the album?” To my delight (and yours), she does have an album, Dear Stranger. I was saddened to hear, however, that most of the songs she had shared with us weren’t on that album.
I will spare you my recounts of the conversations I entertained, including one with the fabulous Ann Daramola, and the overwhelming inspiration I returned home with. I will, instead, leave you with this:
The Harlem Renaissance started from the same spirit that was in the room last night. Art, of every nature, is valuable beyond measure and it is up to us to preserve its sanctity. We must create our own thirdspaces and thrive there, at all costs.
Thank you to G.R.E.E.D.Y City for hosting such an experience. Thank you to William Hawkins and Bridget Barkan for blessing us with your talents and stories. And thank you to everyone who contributed to the warm environment that was last night.