It was a non-stop celebration of all things beautiful about finding that special someone as ESSENCE hosted its’ first-ever Black Love Gala. Over 300 guests gathered at Pier 60 of NYC’s breathtaking Chelsea Piers event space overlooking the Hudson River for an intimate evening of music, food, games, dancing and more. The Honey and Vinyl band kicked off the festivities for the black-tie affair, performing several renditions of classic R&B love songs including Anita Baker’s “Sweet Love,” and Erykah Badu’s “Love of My Life,” to name just a few.

ESSENCE Senior Love & Relationships Editor, Charli Penn, took to the stage soon after to welcome guests, share details about the many activities available for couples to enjoy throughout the evening and introduce event hosts, Khadeen and Devale Ellis.

After sharing a little about their own love story, the Ellises welcomed 3 couples to the stage for the #ESSENCELoveChallenge game. To determine a winner for the game, each couple was tasked with holding up response cards to answer questions at the same time without looking at their partner’s answer card. The couple with the highest number of matching answers won the game.

Halfway through the evening, lovebirds DJ Kiss and DJ Moss had the dance floor packed as they lit up the night with an incredible set that took guests from swag surfing to the electric slide and everything in between. The evening’s off-stage activities included a sketching station, where couples lined up to have talented visual artist, Deb Cartwright, create complimentary, customized illustrations of their looks for night.  The illustrations were paired with hand-written poems about each couple’s love stories for inclusion in their own Love Time Capsule, which they took home at the end of the event.

The Toyota Avalon kiss cam photo station proved a highlight of the night, giving couples the opportunity to share a smooch on camera while sitting inside of the vehicle. Other activities included casino-style Blackjack and Roulette tables, as well as ESSENCE social media and video capture stations, where couples got a chance to show off both their outfits and their love, for the cameras. Throughout the evening, attendees dined on exquisite dinner selections and delicious desserts, while a premium open bar kept the drinks flowing all night long. In other words, the next ESSENCE Black Love Gala is not to be missed!


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