VIBE/ Stacy-Ann Ellis

Take Us Back: Going To Anguilla For Moonsplash Festival Will Have You Coming Back For More

An inaugural trip to Anguilla for Bankie Banx Moonsplash Festival caused a deep longing for a return trip ASAP.

"You musta think I dumb, diddy diddy dumb dumb/You can run around and then when ya wan’ done/Just give me a call expecting to run come.” The sweet, lilted words breezed past my balcony at CuisinArt Resort, where the day’s balminess and dwindling bits of sunshine traded places with crisp air brought on by the full moon and Rendezvous Bay waves. The refrain continued, this time with the oohs and aahs of background singers filling in the honeyed undertones of "Dumb," Anguillian artist Natty AXA's single, one of the first songs Moonsplash Festival attendees would hear over the three-day period. Sound check, aka a free concert, was almost over and the beginning of the sprinkle of gems Anguilla had to offer was just beginning.

I came to the British territory—a 35-mile landmass sharing nautical space with cruise stop Saint-Martin and celeb getaway St. Baarth’s—to take in the sounds of Bankie Banx Moonsplash, a two and a half day celebration of the more relaxed offerings of Caribbean music. But I left with not only a Serene piece of mind, full belly, a golden glow and a new roster of artists to put in my SoundCloud rotation, but a yearning to come back before I even stepped foot on the plane back to New York.

Moonsplash was unlike any other fest I've been to before. Hosted at Anguillian legend Bankie Banx’s Dune Preserve property, it's the farthest thing from extravagant in the best way possible. For 26 years, Banx & Co. have been curating lineups of Caribbean artists both native and from just across the clear cerulean waters. This year brought out the likes of Iba Mahr, Tony Rebel, Queen Ifrica, British Dependency, Natty AXA, Mighty Mystic, Connis, Charlie B, True Intentions and Banks' own offspring Omari and Tahirah Banks. In addition to himself, that is. Banx is the primary headliner, but only by so much.

Last year, Justin Bieber happened to be staying close to the Dune and popped up on stage for a jam session. A few years before that, John Mayer blessed the mic in the same spontaneous, easygoing fashion. At Moonsplash, when the artists finished their sets, each of which would include anywhere from 5-10 full songs (lengthy for non-headliners by U.S. festival standards), they'd grab a drink, spliff or snack and roam around the crowd, chilling. No fan swarms followed. Just communal exchanges, hugs and a few cell phone snapshots.

This easygoing atmosphere is applicable to nearly all the goings on of Anguilla. Noel Mignott, President of Portfolio Marketing Group and Anguilla frequenter, said it best: “Anguilla is not for the tourist. It is for the traveler.” The seasoned traveler at that. There aren't any all-inclusive hotels or evidence of mass-marketing tourism. This is not where you come for noise and street curb belligerence or for jet skis, parasailing and other obnoxious water sports. You do not come here clutching purses and looking over your shoulders or expecting get your hair braided on the beach. This is not the place for anything remotely close to fast food or other signifiers of constantly living in a hurry (Subway sandwiches was the only American chain restaurant on the island, and according to a notable chef on the island, it won't be there too long). Here, tucked at the bottom of the Caribbean Sea, is where luxury, comfort and culture meet.

The island's residents and those curious to escape their own lives to slip away into the Anguillian scenery mix in a refreshing way when it comes to upscale getaway spots. Resorts are like CuisinArt Resort and Spa and The Viceroy are top notch with immaculate grounds, but the people manning the grounds feel more like family than employees. Beggars and hustlers are as uncommon as any sort of attitudes or sass from those offering the hospitality. The same places outsiders go to get away from it all—Sandy Island and Little Bay are absolute must-sees—are the same places everybody else on the island frequent. Natives aren't shut out; visitors don't stay boxed in.

For my five days traipsing from Sandy Ground to The Valley to Scilly Cay, everything felt like a dream. Although I’m grateful for all that I have back in the States, I can’t say that I’m accustomed to “the finer things in life.” Anguilla gave me just the taste I needed. Here’s a breakdown of all the things that made the country demand a second trip out of me.


Moonsplash provided a new knowledge and prompted a deeper appreciation for local Caribbean artists.

It's not always about snatching up the biggest names you can get for a festival; it's about getting the best ones for the appropriate vibe. As a Caribbean-American, I can't say that I was too familiar with Natty AXA, Mighty Mystic, Omari Banks or even Bankie Banx prior to Moonsplash, but when I saw them all hit the stage, the groove I fell into was instant. The energy was palpable. The people swaying their bodies around Bankie Banx's Dune Preserve—high off life and tree, alike—genuinely feel connected to these artists, not stanning out and screaming like attendees at American fests do.

Whether Omari Banks was performing singles like "Me & You" and "No Point to Prove," or paying tribute to the newly fallen Prince via his iconic "Purple Rain," the front of the stage was always occupied by attendees with outstretched arms, bobbing heads and full spirits. Jamaica-born Mystic literally braved a downpour like a rockstar, keeping people from retreating with "Cali Green" and "Revolution." Anguillan duo British Dependancy's reggae/rock fusion gave the crowd a taste of something different, while Queen Ifrica kept the dedicated dancing in the dark all night long.


Anguillian food is something to brag far and wide about.

On the day I arrived to Sandy Ground on the west end of the island, I was on day 21 of a self-assigned 30 day vegan challenge (doing quite well at that). That all came to a halt the second I sat down for my first real meal. Sure, 10 percent of that was due to slim vegan pickings on menus, but really it was because the food was entirely too good to stare at while others indulged across the dinner table. Anguillan food is the stuff of pure delight.

I decided to respect my stomach and stick with mostly seafood, which just so happens to be the isle's specialty. From Veya's sautéed red snapper and Blanchards' delectable Mahi-Mahi to a roll out of family-style dishes at Tasty's and grilled lobster on Sandy Island, Anguillian chefs truly have a gift when it comes to their culinary offerings. Even the lobster rolls and cassava chips paired with bottomless mimosas on-board Tradition Sailing's boat was top-notch.


The water's so good you have to explore it up close and personal, not just admire it from the beach.

You can't go to an island and not properly explore the waters that surround it on all sides. In Anguilla, the soft white sand beaches are as heavenly as one could imagine, but it's imperative that you step away from the beach towel and out further into the sea. One of the most magnificent experiences was my venture to Sandy Island, a small offshore cay right off the coast of  Sandy Ground. After a quick 10 minute catamaran ride—there's no "dock," so you must slip off your shoes and hop into shallow waters to make your way onto the island from the boat—pristine azure waters, strong rum-punches, beach beds and delicious seafood are yours for the afternoon.

If you'd like to venture out a little further and up your adventure meter, Tradition Sailing is the way to go. Leaving from the same dock as the boat to Sandy Island, passengers are transferred to an authentic sailboat, where the captains man the vessel and give guests a view of Anguilla from out the water.

The next stop is Little Bay—a small, secluded beach accessed only by boat or by climbing down a rope—where the boat anchors and all who wish to can get off and snorkel around the area. If not, the unlimited mimosas and other beverages (both non- and alcoholic) will continue to flow before returning back to Sandy Ground.


The shops from local artisans are worth more than a passing glance.

The souvenir shopping experience gets a major upgrade when moseying around some of the local craft shops. At Devonish Art Gallery, the work of Courtney Devonish lines The Valley locale from wall-to-wall and counter-to-counter. From wooden hearts and mahogany sculptures, to antique maps to paintings, there are plenty originals to take back as decor for your home. The man behind the craft is always on-hand to chat up about his goods and about the place he calls home.

Directly across the street, Cheddie Richardson's Carving Studio is another treasure trove of talent. Richardson turns jagged driftwood into remarkable works of art, fusing them with paints, patience and precision. The self-taught artist keeps his originals, but makes replicas in bronze for admirers to take home.


On off days from sand and sea, Anguilla's Heritage Trail offers schooling on the island's history.

There's something for everyone in Anguilla, including the history buffs. Enter the Heritage Trail snaking from tip to tip of the island via George Hill Road. After driving from the Sandy Ground Outlook to the discontinued salt ponds in East End, a remarkable sight to see along the way is St. Gerard's Roman Catholic Church. It's Anguilla's only Roman Catholic church and one of the oldest on the island. The photograph below is of the new St. Gerard's building actually used to hold service, directly beside the much smaller original.

Wallblake House is said to be the oldest structure on the island and is rooted in history. The rustic building, which dates back to 1787, was the site of an old plantation run by sugar planter Valentin Blake. Walking through the old quarters elicits immediate nostalgia (maybe not in the best way) and visitors get an opportunity to peer deep into cooling chambers for the sugar.


Above all else, Anguilla's biggest charm is it's people.

No matter where I visited on the island and in whatever setting, I never felt less than extended family. Over at The Sunshine Shack, the owner and resident bartender, Garvey,  juggled mixed drinks and hearty conversation. He never seemed overwhelmed by the multitasking because the overall vibe of the afternoon was easygoing.

As Garvey and his assistant manned the libation station, Mighty Mystic, who took the Moonsplash Stage the night before, entertained the crowd with the chill sounds of his catalogue.

The people you meet at events like this or in passing don't feel like strangers. On the ride back to shore from Sandy Island, I met Mitchelle Lake and some of his mentees over at the Anguilla Tennis Academy. The non-profit organization is dedicated to furthering knowledge of the sport and providing academic opportunities to youth in Anguilla and surrounding Caribbean countries. You could see not only his passion, but the love he had for his former students and friends sitting on either side of him.

That very moment—enhanced by the gleeful bumps and splashes of the catamaran—encapsulated to spirit of Anguilla. The familial mixed with the cultural, luxury mixed with the local. Every bit of a reason for me to come right back.

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Yumm: Chick-fil-A Considers Adding Vegan Options To Menu

Chick-fil-A will jump into the growing market of vegan fast food with the addition of vegan options to their menu.

Speaking with Business Insider Tuesday (May 14), Senior Director of Menu Development Amanda Norris has looked into the idea of more meat-free options for several years. The only meat-free options on the current menu are their fruit cups and signature waffle fries.

“We’re definitely aware, and I would say we’re always interested in, what’s happening in food,” Norris said. “Specifically … a vegetarian option or a vegan option is something we’re looking at, we’re thinking about, and have (done) some (research and development).”

Norris added it normally takes about 18 to 24 months for a new item to appear on the menu so the idea of a vegan Chick-fil-A sandwich won't be available just yet.  "I think it's good. People like a lot of different choices," Chick-fil-A customer Carl Smith told Atlanta's WSB-TV, where the food chain was first created. "As long as they keep their standard favorites, I think having more choices is good, too."

Chick-fil-A is just one fast food giant who is jumping on the vegan wave. KFC recently announced plans to sell vegan chicken sandwiches while Burger King, Carl's Jr., Del Taco and Taco Bell have vegan options.

But it's hard not to credit the popularity of Impossible Foods and Beyond Meat for giving customers healthier options. It's also secured a few bags. CNBC reports demand for meat substitutes made a cool $1.44 billion in 2018 with Euromonitor International predicting the number will reach $2.5 billion by 2023.

Impossible Foods also announced Monday (May 13) their funding has reached $300 million. The company partnered with the likes of restaurant chains like Counter Burger and White Castle. Even Ghostface Killah has shared an appreciation for the Impossible burger.

"It's dope. The first time I tried it was in Brooklyn. You could have sworn you were eating regular meat," he told VIBE in 2018. "I had to really ask them and they said, "Yes, it's really a plant-based food." It's the best plant-based vegan food that I've ever tasted, ever."

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Kush & Splendor: 5 CBD Beauty Products That’ll Take Your Self-Care Routine From 0 To 100

Lotions, creams, and salves—oh my! With cannabidiol (CBD) popping up in just about every product you can imagine, the cannabis-infused beauty industry is clearly on the come-up. In fact, analysts predict that the “wellness” movement—as well as the legalization of Mary Jane across the world—will help rake in $25 billion globally in the next 10 years, according to Business Insider. That’s 15 percent of the $167 billion skincare market.

And what better way to up the ante on one’s wellness routine than with all-natural CBD? Just ask Dr. Lana Butner, naturopathic doctor and acupuncturist at NYC’s Modrn Sanctuary, who incorporates CBD in her treatments.

“CBD is a fantastic addition to acupuncture sessions for both its relaxation and anti-inflammatory, pain-relieving effects,” Butner shares with Vixen. “The calming effects of CBD allows for patients to deeply relax into the treatment and really tap into the parasympathetic nervous system, which is responsible for rest, digestion and muscle repair/regeneration.”

She adds that CBD’s pain-relieving effects are “far-reaching,” from muscular and joint pains to migraines and arthritis—and even IBS and indigestion.

The magic lies in CBD’s ability to impact endocannabinoid receptor activity in our bodies. Without getting too wordy, our bodies come equipped with a system called the endocannabinoid system (ECS), which is the HBIC over our sleep, appetite, pain and immune system response. Also known as cannabidiol, CBD teams up with this system to help reduce inflammation and interact with neurotransmitters. According to Healthline, CBD has also been scientifically shown to impact the brain’s receptors for serotonin, the neurotransmitter responsible for regulating our mood and social behavior.

All that said, it’s important to note that not all CBD products are created equal. Many brands cashing in on the green beauty wave use hemp seed oil, sometimes referred to as cannabis sativa seed oil, in place of CBD... which doesn’t make them any less great! Hemp seed oil is actually high in antioxidants, amino acids, and omega-3 and -6 fatty acids—all of which are for your skin.

“It’s generally viewed as a superfood and is great for adding nutritional value to your diet,” Ashley Lewis, co-founder of Fleur Marché, told Well and Good last month. “In terms of skin care, it’s known as a powerful moisturizer and skin softener that doesn’t clog pores or contribute to oily skin.”

However, when companies start marketing CBD and hemp oil as one-in-the-same, that’s when things get a bit tricky.

“The biggest issue is that hemp seed oil and CBD are two totally different compounds that come from different parts of the hemp plant, have different makeups, and different benefits,” Lewis added. “Marketing them as the same thing just isn’t accurate and does a disservice to consumers who are expecting certain benefits that they won’t get from hemp seed oil and who are often paying more for what they think is CBD.”

So if you’re looking to benefit from the perks specifically attributed to CBD, make sure you’re reading labels before buying, and don’t be afraid to ask questions. Hell, ask for a product’s test results, while you’re at it. It never hurts to be sure.

Now that we’ve got that out of the way, are you ready to see what all the hype is about? For this 4/20, we rounded up a few CBD (and hemp!)-infused products to help give your self-care routine a bit of a boost. Looks like your holiday just got that much kushier. You’re welcome!

Note: Data and regulations surrounding CBD and its use are still in development. That said, please don’t take anything written in this post as medical or legal advice, and definitely double check the laws in your state. Also, please do your body a favor and hit up your doctor before trying any new supplements. We’re just tryna look out for you. Okay? Okay. Read on.

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Jamie Foxx and Grey Goose take over The Times Square Edition bar to Live Victoriously launch event.
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Jamie Foxx Takes Over Grey Goose Happy Hour, Announces Comedy Tour

Leave it to Jamie Foxx to take over a New York City happy hour. To celebrate the launch of Grey Goose's latest campaign, Live Victoriously, the actor and comedian made a surprise appearance at The Time Square EDITION Hotel on Tuesday (April 16).

As attendees were treated to after-work cocktails like "Angel of Music" (Grey Goose vodka, sparkling rosé, and lemon cardamom) and "The Grey Goose Martini" (Grey Goose vodka, dry vermouth, orange bitters with a twist of lemon), Foxx walked behind the bar, took over and mingled with attendees. Bar-goers joined him behind the bar, danced, showcased some dancing and rapping talents on the impromptu "Grey Goose Idol" and jammed out to songs like "Blame It" (feat. T-Pain). Later in the evening, Pepa of Salt-N-Pepa made an appearance, Foxx cracked jokes and announced his upcoming, Kill the Comedian Tour, his first stand-up tour since his last comedy special in 2003.

As Jamie busted throwback moves behind the bar with bar-goers, comedians Aidy Bryant of Shrill and SNL’s Colin Jost made surprise appearances at Brooklyn's Extra Fancy and the Financial District's Underdog. Bryant and Jost performed spontaneous stand-up comedy routines and played a small game of sending selfies to each other.

Scroll through more photos from Jamie Foxx's appearance at Grey Goose's Live Victoriously event down below. Like Foxx wrote in his Instagram post, "Sometimes you gotta turn up on a Tuesday" and celebrating life's small, everyday moments.

Turning a random Tuesday into a night to remember. This is how to #LiveVictoriously ✌🏽. @iamjamiefoxx

— Grey Goose (@GreyGoose) April 17, 2019

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