Pope Francis once said ‘together with a culture of work, there must be a culture of leisure as gratification’. Nothing quite captures the heart behind the Dream Nation gala as much as this. On Friday 16 December, a multitude of young people gathered together to celebrate the end of what has, for many, been an unpredictable year. The UK voted to leave the EU. Frank Ocean finally gave us an album. Donald Trump won the US presidential election. Leonardo DiCaprio won his Oscar. Pokémon became famous again and united the world. A young, Black man became famous overnight because he reviewed chicken shops. The Syrian crisis escalated to unprecedented heights. Unpredictable is an understatement. The only consistent thing about 2016 was Beyoncé because well…she is Beyoncé.
As much as 2016 has been an interesting year globally, it has undoubtedly also been an interesting year personally for each of us. This was visible as young, beautiful Practical Dreamers, fully dressed with smiles as always, entered The Great Hall at London Metropolitan University. Each one of them had a story, a mix of straight paths, dead ends and turns they had not necessarily anticipated, but nevertheless soldiered through. This is what the gala was about – celebrating each one of those moments. Undoubtedly, some people walked into the venue filled with gratitude and overwhelmed by how remarkable their year has been. Others walked in broken, not really sure why they were there and wondering why their efforts this year had not amounted to much. However, the unity that was in the room soon brought everyone to common ground.
One of the standout parts of this year’s gala was the painting stand, where all Practical Dreamers were encouraged to dip their finger into a colour of paint corresponding with where they currently are in their journey to making their dreams a reality. There was a mix of people who were still figuring out their vision/idea, those who were at the start of their journey, some in the process of achieving their dreams and others who were living the dream. Everyone had someone to learn from, and wisdom/knowledge to tap into. As Dream Nation editor-at-large Samara Linton pointed out ‘what a privilege to be in a room with people who are so accomplished yet humble enough to want to learn from others’. If you’ve ever been to a Dream Nation event, you know that the energy is out of this world and it is only once you start talking to people that you realize the calibre of people who attend these events.
People exchanged ideas and encouraged each other to follow their dreams. We heard the story of Paul Akinrinlola, the winner of the Practical Dreamer of the Year award, whose fearless passion for music and photography led to him founding his own media company and in turn collaborating with big names in the industry. When Paul’s name was announced as the winner, he was busy working to capture the images of everyone enjoying themselves at the gala, and it was clear that he never expected it! The Practical Dreamer Award of the Year was given to someone who was practically dreaming, working away and chasing their dreams at that moment in time. How wonderful!
Dream Nation founder Claud Williams was also honoured on the night. It is not a secret that Claud spends countless hours of his time pouring into and encouraging other people. A video was shown of various people speaking about the way Claud has impacted their lives and the team wanted to remind Claud that in the same way he lifts people up, there are hundreds of us doing exactly the same for him. Entertainment on the night was provided by the eclectic and energetic South East London based musician Intalekt and his band, who undoubtedly set the room alight. They brought a new type of energy, one that made you forget any problems you had, or that you were dressed in formal attire, and encouraged you to get loose on the dance floor. This performance definitely set the tone for the rest of the night, which was filled with conversation and dancing. Long after the event had finished, conversation continued, until the security guards had to beg people to leave the building.
Some moments are heaven on Earth, even for those who do not believe in another dimension and for moments such as these, one person’s perspective and words are simply not enough to adequately capture the magic. This 2016 Dream Nation gala was one of those moments. It was a dream that helped to set an incredible tone and revive passion for the upcoming new year. It allowed us to celebrate what has been and look forward to what will be. To help me capture the evening, below is what the Dream Nation team members had to say about the ethereal evening.
“The 2016 Dream Nation Gala has to be my favourite event since joining Dream Nation & leading the events team. Not because it was always fun but because of who we became as a team at the end of it. There were so many times it looked impossible but we pulled together in strength & love because community is truly powerful. I’ve understood again the power of faith and believing in what you do, it moves mountains. The night was stunning & I was so touched by the warmth & unity in the room through connections being made. I loved meeting so many beautiful & passionate people who came out as part of our dream nation community to celebrate the year and celebrate each other.”
– Feruza Afewerki, Creative Director
“I lost count of the number of times I found myself blown away by the people I met. Young people with huge visions, building their dreams little by little. There was one particular moment when a dozen of us were huddled together, taking turns to share the joys and challenges of pursuing their dreams while others gave advice or shared their own experiences. In that moment, I thought “wow”. What a privilege to be in a room with people who are so accomplished yet humble enough to want to learn from others.”
– Samara Linton, Editor-at-Large
“The Dream Nation Gala this year epitomised unity, bringing together young, ambitious individuals from all over the city. As soon as the networking began there was a hive of activity, which continued throughout the evening. To top it all off the room looked amazing with a punch table, sweet table and cheese table.”
– Hermine Kudia, Events Manager
“Everyone who walked through the doors looked amazing! I could see the excitement on their faces as they asked what the night will be about for them. It was a night filled with happiness and joy. A night where everyone got a chance to network, connect and reflect back on the year.”
– Kehinde Badmus, Senior Writer
If you were at the gala, thank you for coming. If not, we hope to see you next year. In the meantime, join our mailing list below to stay up-to-date with everything Dream Nation!