1st Day Hair: Not My Thing (even in Nigeria)

Tomorrow! Yes, FINALLY tomorrow is the big day—the Nigerian Natural Hair Show is finally here. As a featured presenter, I started prepping my hair for said big day, well….last week.

I’ve come to realize, that I really, truly, honestly dislike my first day hair. As a Wash’n’Go advocate, I find that my freshly washed style is just never my favorite. Sure, my ringlets are fully popped, I’ve got tons of shine, my hair hangs long, but I don’t know…I just feel that I look like some sort of wet cat.


See the displeasure in that face? Yea, that’s me.

Okay, maybe I’m not THAT upset, but I feel like my hair never hits its stride until day three or four. A few reasons:

1. It’s a little TOO perfect. I find that the beauty of natural hair is in its “imperfections”. I like a little frizz, a little gesture–it shows personality.
2. It’s too flat. It shows off all the angles of the cut, there’s no smooth, rounded out flow. I want my hair reaching for the sky.
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Lagos: The Arrival

At the end of the jetway, a man calls my name. Cassidy?


Welcome to Lagos.

He grabs my wheeled suitcase from my hand and we take off—and I mean take off in a 0-to-60, just beneath a full run sort of way. As we zip past the people who deplaned before me, he makes conversation, politely telling me that it’s time to hustle. “I hope your flight was good. I don’t want to cause you any stress, but this is where we move fast,” he says. I secure my backpack even tighter and take my speed up a notch. We are bobbing and weaving and zigging and zagging through the labyrinth of the arrivals gates. Windows are open everywhere. It’s hot, humid and I am glad that I do lots of cardio.

We pause at our first queue. “Do you have your Ebola screening?” he asks. I do. I produce a paper on which I have made several checkmarks confirming that I have not been with a person who has died of a hemorrhagic fever in the last three weeks. Either way the agent shoots a white temperature-taking gun at my forehead. Twice. The second time asking me to move my travel-weary curls out of the way so she can get a better read. My passport is now a constant reminder of this Lagosian precaution.


The sprint continues onto the immigrations officials. I produce the blue arrival form Delta gave to me on the plane. A man in a tan uniform tells us that this is not the form they are using anymore, but luckily for us he has the right one. I look at the crisp blue Delta form and the wrinkled white slip this officer had jammed in is pocket. I have my doubts, but my handler nods me on to take it. So I do. I have a suspicion that without my speedy little friend this form could have cost me a pretty penny. At the immigration desk, the man takes one look at my visa, stamps my passport and we are through. I feel slightly jilted that my Nigerian visa, which took days of errands, hours of organizing and hundreds of dollars received less than 15 seconds of attention. Whatever. We are through. I am officially in Lagos.

Outside the airport, a beret wearing officer casually dangles an assault rifle from his pinkie. I’m hustled into a car with my driver and we drive into the hot afternoon sun.


There are people everywhere. Cars everywhere. Yellow buses filled with people everywhere. People and cars jammed together in what could be a four lane highway, except there are no lanes and cars seem to drive wherever they need; diagonal if they must. People are on medians, shoulders of the road, shoulders of other people and in between the cars. Men and women walk against the flow of traffic selling peanuts, icy sodas, children’s pajamas and… is that a 4 foot poster of a Lamborgini on top of the Manhattan skyline? It sure is.


Our driver locks the door as we enter the 4:30pm grid lock. Other cars, however, are indeed buying. One car rolls does roll down their window for a beer, the vendor strolling alongside the car while making change. A commercial comes on the radio. It’s the state traffic and roadway safety commission encouraging people not to cross the expressway and to use the pedestrian bridge. Still, outside our windows the steady stream of people flows around bumper to bumper traffic as it inches forward. Another man stops our car. He is selling chargers, I consider this a more pragmatic offering than the flannel pajamas hanging on another man’s hangers. We politely decline and he walks away. Traffic breaks and it’s onward into Lagos.

Back to Africa: The Nigerian Natural Hair Show

Early on in my days of blogging, I developed an eye and an ear for the goings on in the global natural hair community. It started with stumbling across a photograph of a super dope natural hair cut taken in Swaziland and over time has allowed to travel to several international cities in the name of natural hair.

My very first international natural hair interviews was with a Nigerian naturalista named Nibi Lawson, owner of The Kinky Apothecary. I did the interview over gChat. Me waking up early in the morning to catch Nibi, right before she went to bed. I recently dug the interview back up (you can read the full transcript here), and one of the things that has always stuck with me is Nibi’s claim that in Africa, natural hair is often seen as too afrocentric:

People tend to conform to more ‘western’ ideals. I’ve had people say I’m really ‘afrocentric’ in a negative way, which is weird as well, what’s more afrocentric than actually being african, which all of us here are. But yeah, I hope I am able to change people’s misconceptions.

To me, this concept hits at the root of everything the natural hair movement is aiming for.

Nibi and I have stayed connected through the years and I’m honored to have been invited as a guest speaker at the Nigerian Natural Hair Show!!!!!


It’s been three years since I took my first trip to Africa during which I visited Dakar in Senegal, an experience that made quite a lasting impression on me. I start my voyage to Lagos in just a few short hours (!!!!!). but couldn’t be more excited for what’s to come!

Some highlights I’m looking forward to:

  • The hair show of course! It’s going down this Saturday. I’ll be speaking on a panel (love panels) and can’t wait to check out all the exhibitors and meet the guests
  • Eating Suya, Moi moi, Catfish Pepper Soup and Pounded Yam. Naturally, I’m right on top of my culinary research game
  • Scoping the view from the top of the Intercontinental. Lagos is one of the largest cities in the world. The view is supposed to be bomb. I will be brining my selfie stick for suuuuuure
  • Visiting the barbershops of Lagos! I’m taking a couple days to visit the men’s grooming world and document the Lagos scene for BevelCode
  • FELA KUTI DANCE CLASS!!!!! Need I say more!?!?!?
  • The markets. I always love checking out the local markets
  • Sharing the experience with YOU! Stay tuned for stories and photos from the road!

ClassPass: Barry’s Boot Camp Review

I was very nervous for Barry’s Bootcamp. Very very very nervous. Everything I had heard going into this class made it sound like hell, but also those same people gave if the most rave reviews and kept going back for more. Still, I was nervous and willingly expressed such directly to BBC.

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Their tweet response actually DID make me feel a little better, you know, if I felt like puking on the treadmill then I could always just take it down a notch.

Their Promise: The best workout in the world

The Experience: Upon arrival, the front desk staff was SUPER helpful and before swinging into the lockerroom I noticed none other than a JUICE BAR where you place your order before headed into the gym so that it’s ready when you come out. I ordered up some sort of Vegan shake with a HUGE dose of protein and a healthy amount of calories. I knew I was going to need it after a sprints on a minimal breakfast.

I started off on a treadmill. The flow of the class is that you alternate between treadmill time and floor work. On the treadmills you’re going between runs and sprints, sometimes at an incline. Your recoveries are done at pace, which means you’re still running at about a 6.

I’ve always been a decent sprinter and over the past couple years I found myself enjoying a run here and there, however nothing and I mean NOTHING could have prepared me for this experience. It’s one thing to go for a 4 mile run, quite another to be sprinting at a 10 on an incline followed by calisthenics that involve a step and weights. It was the most difficult workout I’ve had to recent memory, but in one of those ways that leaves you with a sense of accomplishment.

There’s something about working out in a dark, sexily lit room that really gets you in the zone. I honestly don’t think I could have sprinted my ass off if there were lights on. It’s kinda like “what happens in Barry’s stays in Barry’s” and I left it all on that treadmill. 60 minutes later, I was worked out, worked in, worked down and even diagonally.

Chris, the instructor was 6’9” or something and SUPER awesome. I loved his energy and enthusiasm for getting us to MOVE. The weight sessions were hella tough. Nothing was ever a simple bicep curl, everything was layered on top of one and other for max muscle workage. BBC is NOT fucking around when they say it’s the best workout in the world.

Because I worked out before work, I used the facilities to shower and was *delighted* to come face to face with a suite of Malin + Goetz products, towels, and dryers on hand. Paired with that smoothie that was waiting for me, it was a perfect experience start to finish. I mean, save for that part where I almost yuked on a treadmill, but that’s part of it too. I loved that there were a lot of guys in the class too. It’s refreshing to see a gender balance in a group fitness studio

I get while people are addicted to this place. I’ll be back. Specifically 7:50pm next Thursday. EEK!

BBC gets a 10 out of 10 for sure.

ClassPass Review: Mighty Pilates

As I mentioned in my Mint Studio Review, I’m really interested in expanding my pilates repertoire beyond my springboard exposure at BURN. I decided to hit up Mighty Pilates for the sole purpose that it’s incredibly close to my house so a 6:30am class was NBD.

Their Promise: Mighty Pilates offers energetic group classes so you get fit quickly and feel empowered. Be Mighty in Laurel Heights with classes that combine stretching, cardio, and core.

You’ll work out your whole bod head to toe on a mix of the Reformers and the Towers. Power up your powerhouse in this vigorous class that mixes it up. Appropriate for students familiar with the Tower and Reformer.

The Experience: Gorgeous studio. Just gorgeous. Reformers up front, towers in the back. Wish I had given myself more time to explore the space. The instructor Sabrina, was very throrough in asking about my injury (like what vertebrae is my injury on and shame on me for not remembering). I appreciated that. We began the class doing a series of core and arm exercises on the reformers. Since I have some basic knowledge of pilates, it was easy enough to follow along, execution on these tired muscles was a whollllle other story. At first blush, pilates equipment looks straight up like torture equipment (and I guess in a way it is), but Sabrina had excellent cueing and kept us in our exercises for the perfect amount of time. I never felt like anything was *too* hard.

After the reformers, we went into the tower room and began our work there. One thing I did find impossible was our planks on an un-sprung bar. I just could not hang there. Nothing in this class was, easy. At all. But I really appreciated the pace, instruction and flow of this studio.

I give this class a 10 out 10 ten for it’s instruction, experience and space.

Next Up: Barry’s Boot Camp

ClassPass Review: Mint Studios

It’s been years since I’ve taken a classic pilates mat class, but more importantly I have not taken one since I myself became an instructor at BURN, a studio that combines cardio, weights and pilates into one hella hard, but sweattastic 55 minutes. I was particularly excited to check out this genre of class with my more trained eye on pilates and fitness instruction. Mint Studios fell into my lap of course because of ClassPass, but also because it’s one block from the CalTrain, what I use to commute every day.

The Gist: With some of the hardest and most effective classes in San Francisco, Mint’s beautifully designed space is reminiscent of a spa, offering clients an escape from the hustle and bustle of busy city life. Take a Reformer, Mat Pilates, or Barre class and you’ll laugh, shake, and maybe even cry a little! Take a vinyasa flow Yoga class to center your body and mind.

San Franciso’s SOMA neighborhood is definitely not known for its aesthetic charms, so imagine my delight when I open the door of a nondescript building in a block of warehouses and enter into this gorgeous, pristine, refined and welcoming studio space.


I’m not sure what else to say except for: OMFG THAT CLASS WAS TOUGH. We began with what felt like 5 minutes (and i’m actually pretty sure it was 5 minutes) of planking and plank variations. Enough planking to feel the rumble through my core up into my shoulders and down my legs. Following planking we did a variety of floor work involving balls and resistance bands. While most of the exercises focused on the core muscles, I was surprised to discover how the work extended into my arms as well. For example, while holding a V shape (read: CORE WORK), we would wrap a resistance band around our feet and do a shoulder press or bicep curl at the same time, working two different sets of muscles.

The class was only 45 minutes long, but it was more than enough in terms of strengthening exercises. The instructor, Gaby, was very good and provided sufficient cuing, instruction and encouragement. There was one particularly difficult moment in which I’m she caught me silently screaming an expletive that starts with an F. I didn’t break a Yoga Flow-esque sweat or anything, but I certainly felt the workout in every fiber of my soul. It was great.

I give Mint Studios a 9 out of 10 and actively look forward to going back soon!

Next Up: DOONYA a cardio bollywood dance class

ClassPass Review: Doonya – Cardio Bollywood Dance

When I first peeped this class on the ClassPass app, I thought I had struck the motherlode. Three words for you: Cardio. Bollywood. Dance. Sounded like my DREAM.

Their promise: Doonya uses Bollywood songs to get you sweating. The classes feature cardio and strength fitness choreographed to the latest high energy, Bollywood-inspired music. The energy and expressions of Bollywood-inspired music and dance will keep you smiling as you burn up to 800 calories while learning dance and fitness fundamentals.

The Experience: Arrived to a non-descript building in a dark SOMA alley, but found myself in a open, bright dance studio. I was a bit early, my bad for mis-reading the class time, but luckily had some time to chat with the instructor before hand. She explained that “Doonya is not enough cardio if you’re into CrossFit, but not enough dance if you’re a dancer.” Thank heavens I fall right in-between those two extremes myself.

I popped myself into the front row of class, even though I’ve never done it before. I know that I always have a terrible time following a dance class from the back. These routines were fast and pretty simple to follow. The hardest part was definitely the hands and finding alignment.

In terms of workout, you’re basically hopping around for about 55 minutes straight, which will definitely get your heart rate up and a little gloss going. In addition to the straight dance moves, there were also lunges and squats sprinkled in for some more traditional conditioning.

The teacher, Palak was SUPER friendly and easy to follow. She’s been doing Doonya for 6-7 years she explained and even sent a super nice follow up note to all students, which I thought was a nice touch!
Overall I give the class about a 7.5 out of 10, I think she was right that it wasn’t *tough* enough for my liking, but at the same time, whatevs, I got to smile and dance and have a shit ton of fun to some very happy making music!

Next Up: Mighty Pilates – Mighty Mix

Yoga Flow, SF • ClassPass Review

Decided to make an audible today and register for a yoga class after teaching my couple classes at BURN. I told my roommate, a practiced yogini, where I was going and she casually mentioned “oh man…that’s a hot yoga class.”

Welp. Guess I missed that in the fine print.

I tend to avoid hot classes like the g-d plague. I can’t even sleep in hotel rooms that don’t have air circulating within them because I get so sweaty. Considering hot yoga is like that times that by about a million and add in physical exertion, I knew I was just going to be a mess.

But let’s get back to the experience, not my speculation of what it was going to be like.

Their Claim: Flow classes are typically fast paced and set to great music! Our instructors are skilled at catering to all level practitioners by offering modifications for different levels of students. Be prepared to sweat and get a great workout! This class is sometimes set to rock, reggae, hip-hop, blues and worldbeats.

I was able to walk to the studio from my house and was welcomed by a friendly bro at the counter who graciously comped my mat and towel since it was my first class–much appreciated! The studio was already warm upon entering so I braced myself…I was delighted to walk into a gorgeous space complete with skylights and floor to ceiling windows. Looking back I now realize it is basically set up as a yoga green house.


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Fitness in ’15 • ClassPass Reviews

With a new year inevitably brings with it some sort of new dedication to your fitness routine. Even if one is in reasonably good shape, you cannot escape the NEW YEAR NEW ME JUMPSTART YOUR FITNESS GOALS OMFG 2015 IS THE YEAR OF ME!!!!!! Thing is, I personally set my fitness goals back in June 2014, when I realized that I had just one year left in my 20’s. I decided that I was going to lose 30lbs before I turned 30. Six months into the plan, things are right on track: 15 down 15 to go.

So all this New Year New Me stuff, really resonated, because, well this year I’m turning the page into a whole new decade.

Long story short, I decided to sign up for Class Pass. I’ve found myself needing to mix up my workouts and introduce more cardio into my strength training. I also have a lot of friends and co-workers at BURN who are *very* into it, so I figured— WHAT THEY HEY! For $99, I’ll give it a whirl.

Signing up, I was frankly overwhelmed by the amount of classes offered. If I’m going to be really nitpicky, and I will for a second, the filtering options are an effing nightmare. All cities within a 50-mile radius are lumped into one master list by time slot. There are neighborhood filters in San Francisco I’ve never even heard of. BUT, a lot of the classes sounded cool, sounded like things I wanted to get in there and try. We’re talking TRX, yoga, spin, bootcamps, something that involves balls and surfboards, martial arts, kickboxing, dance and so much more. Basically the city has become my little sampling platter. (That is, if I can work around these dang filters).

After a bit of time playing with the interface, I was able to assemble myself a pretty sick little workout schedule for the next week beginning with TODAY. I’ll review the places and spaces I wind up, what I like, don’t like , love, loathe and more.


Their Claim: ”Push and pull yourself into a strong body on Fridays. Indoor class targeting strength and aerobic conditioning using TRX, tubing weights and body-weight exercise.”

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Natural Tresses Event THIS WEEKEND 10•26

Who has two thumbs, lots of curls and hasn’t been to a hair event in a hot minute?


That’s why when Charmaine Marshall of Natural Tresses reached out to me to ask me to be the emcee of her event coming up this weekend, my interest was piqued. When she told me who was involved (spoiler: some of my favorite people in the natural hair world), I simply couldn’t refuse!

This Sunday October 26th, I’ll be emceeing the 2nd Annual Natural Hair and Wellness Expo in Fairfield, CA (just outside of the Bay Area). So jazzed.

2014 expo flyer

The event will be going on from 1:30-6:30pm and will feature awesome vendors and presentations including:

  • Fitness classes
  • Product swap
  • Vocalist + other musical entertainment
  • Lil Curly Girls (so excited, gonna be adorbs
  • Meet and greet with the one and only Kim Coles!!
  • I’m pretty excited to be joined on stage in the afternoon by Miss Kim, she’s a dear friend and I’m so excited that we get to do the commentary on what is sure to be a fabulous hair show by the Natural Tresses Hair Studio!

    Tickets are available ONLINE here for $14 General / $35 VIP or at the door for $20 General / $40 VIP.

    Can’t wait so see your fabulous natural selves on Sunday!!! Xx -Cass

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