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An eclectic music and art activation in West Palm Beach returns after COVID hiatus

No Shade Block Party illustration by visual artist and author Reyna Noriega, a Miami-native who often places an strong emphasis on women of color from different cultural backgrounds.
Reyna Noriega
"No Shade Block Party" illustration by visual artist and author Reyna Noriega, a Miami-native who often places an strong emphasis on women of color from different cultural backgrounds.

The annual mixed-media event “No Shade Block Party” featured Palm Beach County’s young, multicultural artists and entrepreneurs through a variety of engaging activities, until the pandemic shut down the community activation.

The immersive music and art gathering returns as cultural institutions open back up across South Florida. Chess. Video games. Wine. Art installations and live music performances.

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FLAVAR, a music and art collective in West Palm Beach, has been organizing the gathering of young, eclectic art and music lovers for several years. The group partnered with the West Palm Beach Community Redevelopment Agency to bring the vibes back this holiday season.

Several headliners include up-and-coming musicians like Savannah Christina, a Fort Lauderdale native, California-based artist Amindi, and Kaylan Arnold, who is based in Port Saint Lucie.

Christina, 24, describes her music as modern neo-soul with an overall message about “being free.” She is known for her viral video “Self Care," which sits at around 8 million views on YouTube. She said the mental wellness song connected with new and current fans during the pandemic.

“I have people from all ages that resonate with the song because they believe that they can relate,” said Christina. “That’s because ‘self love’ is not just for young women or just for older women, it's for everybody. It’s one of those universal concepts that can strike a nerve with multiple people.”

Christina, who’s set to go on tour early next year, says small, intimate concerts can be a form of self-healing as well, especially as event-goers use music to feel closer to normality and fight the residual effects of quarantining during the early phase of the pandemic.

Savannah Christina .jpg
Savannah Christina
Savannah Christina is a singer-songwriter and Fort Lauderdale native

“The entire journey can be very traumatic especially when you’re lacking human interaction,” said Christina. These spaces help people “bond over their favorite music or their favorite food” because “it creates endorphins — it’s necessary to interact with people at some point, it just has to be responsible.”

Denley Murat is the founder of FLAVAR, which stands for Florida Variety. He says the block party’s “No Shade” title is a double entendre. In South Florida, “we barely get any shade over here,” said Murat. Also, ‘No Shade’ is a slang for no disrespect or no offense.

“We don’t want no problems. We want good vibes. We want great times within our communities, that’s why we chose the meaning 'No Shade' because it’s much needed in our community,” he said.

The West Palm Beach CRA is sponsoring the community activation at 401 Rosemary Avenue. Free tickets are limited. The outdoor event is set for Nov. 27 from 5 p.m. to midnight. It’s hosted by local artists Radical Phoenixx, Token Renaissance, and popular local DJs like DJ DDubbz, DJ Jones Drew, and Louie Arson.

Murat says a portion of the ticket proceeds will go to The Inner City Innovators, a nonprofit that helps at-risk youth.

“We wanted more inclusiveness within our community. Make sure that from our artists to our performing artists to our small businesses, our goal is to enrich our community,” said Murat.

“What we’re trying to do is to showcase the talents that we have in Palm Beach and South Florida, in general.”

Wilkine Brutus is a reporter and producer for WLRN and a guest faculty member at the Poynter Institute. The South Florida native produces stories on topics surrounding local news, culture, art, politics and current affairs.