National Margarita Day

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Grab some friends, come to Harlem and get your drink on for National Margarita Day!

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Black History Month in Harlem

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X: or, Betty Shabazz v. The Nation | Now – Feb 18th
The Acting Company
This show vividly brings to life the assassination of the late great Malcolm X. We cannot say this enough, you need to see this show ASAP. Beautifully written by Marcus Gardley, this play will make you cry, laugh and think really deeply about how the American experiment has still not lived up to it’s lofty rhetoric. READ HERE

King in New York | Now – June 1st
Museum of the City of New York
Commemorating the 50th anniversary of the death of Martin Luther King Jr., King in New York traces the civil rights leader’s encounters with New York from the 1950s until his assassination in 1968. READ HERE

49th Anniversary Sunday Matinee | Feb 11th
Dance Theatre of Harlem
Dance Theatre of Harlem’s 49th Anniversary Sunday Matinee takes place Sunday, February 11th! Be part of a celebratory afternoon of artistry. READ HERE

Open Archive: Alain L. Locke and the Harlem Renaissance | Feb 13th
Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture
Join Schomburg Center archivists featuring items from their coveted collection of archival materials. Be the first to get up close and personal with selected items and enjoy an audience Q&A with the collection’s curators. READ HERE

The New Negro, The Life of Alain Locke by Jeffrey Stewart | Feb 13th
Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture
Alain Locke was a writer, philosopher, and architect of the philosophy behind the Harlem Renaissance, an awakening of artistic creativity and racial pride centered in Harlem. The new biography, The New Negro: The Life of Alain Locke by Jeffrey C. Stewart, former Schomburg Fellow, tells the story of how Locke came to his view of Harlem as a crucible of race consciousness. READ HERE

Ebony Sea and 1830s Black Power Story Book Reading/Signing | Feb 13th
Whole Foods Harlem
Irene Smalls, born and raised in Harlem, is the award-winning author of 15 books for children published by Little Brown, Simon & Schuster and Scholastic. On Feb 13th, she will be reading and signing from her latest book detailing a true story from 1830 of a group of Africans who refused to be enslaved. READ HERE

Salute Black History Month: Lift Every Voice and Sing | Feb 16th
Miller Theatre at Columbia University
Harlem Opera Theater will present a tribute to the 145th Anniversary of the life of composer John Rosamond Johnson, who wrote the music for “Lift Every Voice and Sing”, his brother, James Weldon Johnson wrote the words. READ HERE

Soundtrack ’63 | Feb 13th
Apollo Theater
A Live Musical Documentary with spirituals, protest songs, and popular music performed by an 18-piece orchestra and Brooklyn’s Soul Science Lab. READ HERE

HERITAGE: Bethann Hardison in Conversation with Harriette Cole | Feb 22nd
Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture
Harlem Opera Theater will present a tribute to the 145th Anniversary of the life of composer John Rosamond Johnson, who wrote the music for “Lift Every Voice and Sing”, his brother, James Weldon Johnson wrote the words. READ HERE

New Year, New You!

A new beginning is just around the corner and our New Year, New You guide has everything you need to help you bring in a balanced, healthy and revived 2018.


Mindful Harlem | Through mindfulness and meditation practices, this community hub creates joy and effective engagement by exploring the collective wisdom and resources of our diverse and colorful neighboorhood.  READ HERE

I Have A Dream Workshop | Start the year off right with an intensive workshop designed to help you access your dreams. Led by DREAMLEAPERS founder and motivational coach Harriette Cole, you will participate in a meditation exercise followed by vision boarding.  READ HERE

Harlem Churches | Nothing feels better than your spirit being renewed. Check out some uptown gospel as you start off 2018 centered on God.  READ HERE


Harlem Chi Community Acupuncture | Aches and pains got you down? Need something more than a pill or a salve can handle? Take a holistic approach!  Harlem Chi uses Acupuncture and Traditional Chinese Medicine to address a variety of health and wellness concerns.  READ HERE

Harlem Cycle| In Harlem’s 1st bicycling studio, they pay attention to all the details with a focus on one thing:  providing the best classes possible. Get your summer body in gear at Harlem Cycle!  READ HERE

Cohen’s Fashion Optical | See and be seen in style! Featuring a large selection of designer eyewear, Cohen’s Fashion Optical comes correct with the latest styles for the whole family.  READ HERE

Harlem Center for Aesthetic Dentistry | Bring in the new year with a brand new smile! Utilizing the latest innovations in braces for people of all ages. Dr. Robertson uses these technologies to shorten and perfect the orthodontic process.  READ HERE

Harlem YMCA | Conveniently located in central Harlem, membership is affordable and programs are plenty for Harlemites seeking classes and workshops on social responsibility and healthy living.  READ HERE

More health/fitness options:


Download the Experience Harlem app for guides and promotions to help you live your best and healthiest life in Harlem!

Experience Harlem 2017 #ShopHarlem Holiday Gift & Events Guide

There’s no place like Harlem, and with scores of local entrepreneurs, small businesses, artists and artisans, there’s no better place to shop for all of your holiday needs. While you’re doing that, ring in the season with rich cultural events for family, friends and neighbors, all infused with the energy that has made Harlem an iconic community. Ho! Ho! Ho! from us at EXPERIENCE HARLEM —Harlem doesn’t have a St. Nicholas Avenue for nothing, you know.

Men = M
Women = W
Kids = K
Home = H
Pets = P

Delight and dress up the men or male-identified folks on your list this holiday with picks from the following Harlem shops:

Harlem Haberdashery
245 Lenox Ave, 646 707 0070,
Just stepping inside of Harlem Haberdashery is an experience worth savoring. The retail expression of 5001 Flavors almost exclusively features unique designs; and inventory ranges from unique Ts to more bespoke accessories, like the fast selling two-tone scarf, which can dress up any look. M, W



Flamekeepers Hat Club
273 W 121st St, 212 531 3542,
The chapeau is a fine expression of style and cool, and at Flamekeepers, you’re sure to find the perfect fit for the modern man (or woman) in your orbit! Stop here to impress those for whom good taste is a must. M, W



2084 Adam Clayton Powell, Jr Blvd, 212 749 0400,
This upscale boutique for the fashion-conscious shopper is a must. Collar-less shirts with Afrocentric details are the hot item this season, and there are loads of shimmering holiday dresses for her, too. M, W



Harlem is ground zero for all the women and femmes you want to impress this season—from church mothers and co-workers to girlfriends and sorors.

The Brownstone
24 E 125th St, 212-996-7980,
The Brownstone dresses women for the important moments in her life with ethnically-inspired fashions like leather trimmed shawls or funky jewelry that are sure to be conversation starters. There are also one-of-a-kind gifts for home and special holiday cards, too. W, H


Harlem Skin & Laser Clinic
2119 Frederick Douglass Blvd, 917 309 6607,
They say true beauty lies within, but if you want your outer to reflect your inner, there’s no better place. From facials and chemical peels, to laser hair removal and waxing, HS&L has only one objective: to make skin beautiful. W, M



Polished Finger Tips
2119 Frederick Douglass Blvd, 212 222 4466,
Treat the well-groomed woman in your life to a salon 10 levels beyond the average nail shop. With an environment drenched in the sweet smells of aromatherapy, Polished offers unique treatments such as its extended manicure, an experience you’re sure to remember fondly. W, M



Ground the children in your life with unique, culturally-diverse gifts that can’t be found anywhere else.

A2Z Children’s Boutique
2220 Frederick Douglass Blvd, 212 932 2220,
Make the children in your life exceedingly cool with unique and fashion-forward finds at A2Z, whether it be a straw fedora for boys or faux fur vest for girls. There’s also baby gifts, shoes, and accessories. From newborn to size 14. K



Grandma’s Place
84 W 120th St, 212 360 6776,
Pick up ethnically diverse dolls, books (ages toddler through pre-teen), action figures, wooden puzzles, games and puppets—all hand selected and curated by Grandma herself, a retired Teacher of the Year award winner. K



Schomburg Center Gift Shop
515 Lenox Ave, 917 275 6975,
The Schomburg gift shop features all sorts of sweet chotskies for children drawing from an extensive selection of books through young adult reading levels, to culturally reflective dolls, posters, pins and buttons. K, M, W, H



Harlem Underground
20 E 125th St, 212 987 9385,
A Harlem staple for almost 20 years, Harlem Underground has a bevy of hats, t-shirts, jackets and sweatshirts that are sure to please even those hard to please teens. From black superheroes to jazz legends, HU is a mainstay because of its contemporary and quirky products. K, M, W



Whether it’s for your own home during the holidays, your best Martha Stewart/B.Smith-esque bud or hostess gift, the following shops have you covered:

191 Lenox Ave, 646 984 4926,
There’s literally something for everyone at Nilu, but we’ll focus on home. Find everything from framed original photography or collages from local artists, culturally reflective dinner wear, funky pillows and candles, or even disco ball ornaments for your trees. Proprietor Katrina Parris Pinn’s taste is unparalleled and your home finds here will be coveted by one and all. H, M, W, K, P

Serengeti Teas & Spices
2292 Frederick Douglass Blvd, 212 866 7100,
At the forefront of African tea gastronomy, Serengeti crafts unique botanical blends, sea salts and the loveliest tea sets in glass or cast iron. A Zen moment isn’t far away… H



Studio Museum
144 W 125th St, 212 864 4500,
As with most other museum gift shops, the Studio Museum delivers on wonderful gifts for the home like its best-selling “Black Is Beautiful” mugs and everything you need to celebrate Kwanzaa, including wooden hand-crafted kinaras and unity cups, candles and mkekas. H, K



Our four-legged friends are like family, and certainly deserve some TLC during the frenzied holidays, too. Make ’em howl with delight as they’re pampered and primped for prime time.

Mia’s Bathhouse for Pets
247 W 145th St, 212 694 8607,
There’s no hands your pet knows better than yours, so head over to New York’s premiere do-it-yourself dog wash to clean your pooch with your special touch for a fraction of the cost of dog groomers (and let Mia’s worry about the clean-up!), P



Harlem Doggie Day Spa
734 St Nicholas Ave, 646 386 7789,
If you’re away for the holidays, Harlem Doggie Day Spa has got you covered with the finest cage-free boarding, daycare and grooming facility around. Its 24-hour on-site dog staffing and two locations provides the best, most professional support for your pooch pals so you can rest easy. P




Harlem for the Holidays
Sat & Sun Dec 9-10; Dec 16-17, 12-6pm
The Gadson Gallery, 225 W 134th St, 212 694 0262,
Presented by the Harlem Aesthetic, Harlem for the Holidays focuses on promoting and preserving artists and artisans of the African Diaspora who spin and create everything from sculptured hats and quilts to leather bags and unique jewelry. Free.



Harlem Holiday Live! at Harlem School of the Arts Theater
Dec 8-10, Dec 15-17; Fri 7pm, Sat 3pm & 7pm, Sun 3pm
Harlem School of the Arts Theater
645 St Nicholas Ave, 212 926 4100,
Celebrate the holiday season with a multi-disciplinary performance by the HSA Theatre Alliance, Dorothy Maynor Singers, HSA Dance Ensemble and HSA Dance Junior Ensemble. $20 Advance, $25 Door, $15 Students & Seniors and Groups of 10 or more.


Coca-Cola Winter Wonderland at Apollo Theater
Sat, Dec 9, 2pm-6pm
Apollo Theater
253 W 125th St, 212 531 5300,
The Apollo transforms into a winter wonderland for the family to experience holiday-themed activities including picture taking with Santa Claus and amazing performances. On this day, bring your new or used books, CDs, clothing and toys suitable for boys and girls ages 3 to 18 to benefit a local charity. All donations should be unwrapped. Free.



Shop NiLu Sip & Shop
Dec 7, 9, 10, 13, 16, 21
191 Lenox Ave , 646 964 4926,
Pick up a range of uniquely curated and variously priced gifts at Harlem gift shop Nilu, which features a vast range of local creators. Pick up unique gifts from scented candles to funky jewelry and kids books. Check the website for pop-up shops from artisans throughout December. Free.


Fantasia Christmas After Midnight: Celebrating Her Hits at Apollo Theater
Wed, Dec 13, 8pm
Apollo Theater
253 W 125th St, 212 531 5300,
Between soulful hits like “Truth Is,” and “When I See U,” Fantasia is a sure crowd pleaser. After wowing in The Color Purple, Fantasia returned to Broadway in 2013 in After Midnight, a dance-focused musical that celebrated Harlem’s iconic Cotton Club during the Harlem Renaissance. See it all at the legendary Apollo. Tickets start at $59.


Kwanzaa Celebration: Regeneration Night at Apollo Theater
Sat, Dec 30, 2-7:30pm
Apollo Theater, 253 W 125th St, 212 531 5300,
Since 2006, the Apollo has established an annual show to celebrate Kwanzaa , a joyful evening of dance and music honoring the holiday’s principles around family, community and culture. $14-$35.



Hands On: Kuumba Kwanzaa! At The Studio Museum Harlem
Sun, Dec 31, 2-4 pm
Studio Museum Harlem, 144 W 125th St, 212 864 4500,
Children and adults can join together in celebrating Kuumba, the Kwanzaa principle of creativity. Engage in a variety of special art-making activities, explore the galleries in an interactive scavenger hunt and more! Free.

Enter for a Chance to Win a $100 Shop Harlem Gift Card

To make your holiday season even merrier, we’re giving away five, $100 gift cards to Experience Harlem newsletter subscribers. Click here to register.



Bruno Mars 24K Magic Viewing Party Invite

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#GivingTuesday Provides #GreatFutures

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Happy Thanksgiving from Experience Harlem!

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Harlem Serves African Flavor

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By Miles Marshall Lewis @MMLunlimited; Video by Nenman Walbe @soulrebelpro

Post powered by Harlem Commonwealth Council

As the undisputed capital of black America, Harlem holds its reputation as a longstanding microcosm of African America nationwide. And yet pocket communities of other ethnic groups stretch back even longer than Ben E. King’s sixties hit, “Spanish Harlem.” Besides that famed Nuyorican neighborhood, France plants its flag near the New York French American Charter School of West 120th Street, and the African diaspora flourishes up and down 116th. All of which lends an international flavor to uptown cuisine far beyond the preconceived notions of soul food one might expect.

Satisfying a jones for African cooking in particular means grappling with the diversity within the continent. No one speaks of “European food”—the wide range of cooking found on Italian, French and Spanish menus is a given. Africa, likewise, contains 54 different countries, and flavors span widely from the jollof rice of Nigeria to the couscous of Morocco to the fish stew of Angola. Our recent crawl of the African-owned Ponty Bistro (Senegal), Zoma (Ethiopia) and Safari (Somalia) restaurants highlights Harlem’s continent-wide collection of tastes.

Ponty Bistro
2375 Adam Clayton Powell Jr. Boulevard
“The technique of cooking is French, but the spices we’re using have to be all African,” says chef Ejhadji Cisse, co-owner—with cousin Cheikh Cisse—of Ponty Bistro. Located at the corner of 139th Street and Adam Clayton Powell Jr. Boulevard, the Harlem outpost of this French-Senegalese restaurant opened in 2010 as an uptown branch of the original Ponty Bistro in downtown Gramercy (since closed). The Cisses hail from Dakar, Senegal, though culinary school and chef residencies took them through Paris before their arrival in the states in 1995. “I don’t want to say: alright, I’m African, I’m just getting African customers,” says Cisse. “I want everybody to come to my place, able to eat what we have and have the experience we have in here.” Specialties like braised branzino sea bass with sweet plantains (poisson braisé à la Guet Ndar) align with attractions like a late-night weekend DJ to make Ponty Bistro a staple of rapidly gentrifying Harlem.

2084 Frederick Douglass Boulevard
“Ethiopian dishes are largely vegetarian,” says restauranteur Henock Kejela, owner of Zoma (established in 2006). “And the others, the meat dishes, are braised dishes. Most Ethiopian food is eaten on a family-style platter with injera, which is the bread.” That spongy flatbread scoops collard greens, spicy chickpeas and lentils; other dishes include fish (zoma assa, assa tibs), beef (tibs wett, kitfo, and more) and chicken (like doro alitcha stew). As another Ethiopian signature, the tej honey wine is a must-taste. A decade ago, The New York Times described Zoma’s interior as “a sea of wobbly black tables set against sparsely adorned walls,” but the low-key, low-lit atmosphere only adds to the charm. Located at the corner of West 113th Street, the eatery’s proximity to Central Park allows diners to walk off their meals with panache.

219 West 116th Street
Calling the patch of Harlem surrounding 116th Street a West African Chinatown would be trite for several reasons, and yet the greatest concentration of NYC immigrants from the continent’s left coast seem to have settled here. Still, the neighborhood nickname of “Little Senegal” ignores the heavy Somali presence evidenced by chef Shakib Farah’s two-year-old Safari. “Somali cuisine is pretty much a meat-eating society,” he says. “The food has to have aroma, so the spices and seasoning are very important: cinnamon, cardamom. That’s what makes it unique.” The roasted goat of hilib ari served with Basmati rice and basbaas sauce is a Safari favorite. (Speaking of sauce, Safari also produces its own hot sauce for sale.) Beef and chicken suqaar as well as a trio of steaks (including thinly sliced flank steak and grilled hanger steak) serve carnivorous diets that might find goat too adventurous. But a catch-of-the-day chef’s special—served in a homemade lime zest sauce and basbaas rub—ensures Safari covers all the bases.

Click here for info on other African restaurants in Harlem.


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