As music festivals, concerts and other large gatherings planned for the fall begin to get canceled over concerns about the COVID-19 delta variant spreading, the infamous FreakNik event is still expected to go on as scheduled in Atlanta.
The annual gathering that invites historically Black college and university (HBCU) students to party in Atlanta over the course of several days rose in popularity — and notoriety — in the 1990s and quickly gained a reputation for its salacious revelers whose exploits correlated with the derivative of the event’s name (even though “freak” is supposed to be an acronym for “fearlessly reliving & embracing Atlanta’s kulture”).
Ticket prices range from $59.99 for a single day’s general admission to $449.99 for the “top tier” and “VIP” package for all three days.
FreakNik’s official Twitter account on Tuesday advertised the tickets, suggesting it wasn’t being canceled because of the pandemic.
The FreakNik website says more than 40 artists will be performing live in addition to having vendors and food trucks for the three-day event in Georgia’s capital city. Among the artists scheduled to perform are Atlanta’s own Jermaine Dupri and rappers Juvenile and Too $hort.
“FreakNik is Atlanta’s Black History & we’re Bringing it back to the AUC at Morris Brown College as we both Unite in our Restoration Efforts!” the website says in part.
One thing, however, that is not addressed on the website is any guidelines surrounding the pandemic — or any information about COVID-19 at all, for that matter.
COVID-19 concerns in Georgia
Recent reports have shown that Georgia has seven counties among the top 20 counties in the entire nation that have been labeled a “danger zone” for the COVID-19 delta variant, which is exponentially more contagious than the version of the coronavirus that prompted the global pandemic last year.
Fulton County, which is where Atlanta is located, was not on that list.
Data from the Georgia Department of Health that is updated on a daily basis show cases in the state have been increasing over the past seven days.
Fleetwood Mac singer Stevie Nicks announced on Tuesday that she was canceling all of her concerts for the rest of the year, including her scheduled performance at the Shaky Knees music festival in Atlanta, specifically because of fears of the delta variant. Like FreakNik, Shaky Knees is being held in October.
Shaky Knees was canceled last year because of the pandemic, but FreakNik still went on as scheduled in September.
According to the most recent statistics, fewer than 40% of Georgia residents have gotten both doses of the COVID-19 vaccine while nearly half of them have gotten at least one shot. The vaccine is meant to limit the severity of the coronavirus and protect from hospitalization and deaths.
But the delta variant has been producing an increasing number of so-called “breakthrough” cases that are infecting, and in some cases, killing fully vaccinated people, heightening concerns about large gatherings that do not require proof of vaccination or negative COVID-19 tests before gaining entry.
It was not immediately clear if either of those policies would be in effect for this year’s FreakNik and efforts to contact the organizers for comment were not immediately successful.
A reporter for the Chicago Tribune in 1997 called FreakNik “big trouble” that bothers neighbors and snarls traffic in a city that already has a reputation for bad gridlock.
But those in attendance begged to differ with that myopic description.
Formally known from its start as the Atlanta Black College Spring Break Party, the name FreakNik evolved from the original name of Freaknic, founded by Spelman College students in the early 1980s. But by 1988, Spelman banned any of its students from participating in what had become an excuse for a raunchy party complete with nudity and suggestive dancing in the streets.
By 1993, FreakNik was in full swing and quickly gaining a reputation for being the spring break party of the year for HBCU students. But after 1999, FreakNik took a 20-year break from the city before returning to Atlanta in 2019.