Michael Jackson’s birthday isn’t until Tuesday—he would have been 59 this year—but on a sunny Saturday in Bed-Stuy, Spike Lee threw his annual block party honoring the King of Pop with a joyous afternoon of loud music and exuberant dancing.
As usual, the festivities were held on the street where, in 1988, Lee filmed much of his seminal movie Do the Right Thing (this stretch of Stuyvesant Avenue was co-named after the movie two years ago), and neighborhood folks came out in droves to enjoy the scene.
Jackson impersonators were on hand of course, and they entertained the crowd with MJ’s signature moves up on stage or just busting it on the street. Rosie Perez, who made her movie debut in Do the Right Thing, joined Lee as co-emcee, and DJ Spinna kept everyone moving with hours of Michael Jackson songs, though Janet’s hits popped up now and again, as did some crowd-pleasing ’90s stuff by the likes of Kriss Kross and Naughty by Nature.
Talib Kweli made a surprise appearance about midway through the event, performing, among other things, an abbreviated rendition of Get By. In general, lots of Brooklyn love was spilled from the stage, and Lee even gave a shout-out to the growing protest against what he called the “fake bullet hole bar”, Summerhill.
The party also featured corporate-sponsored giveaways, a free photo booth, lots of kids’ activities, and a big Spike Lee merchandise tent. Residents of the block did brisk business selling plates of food from their stoop, and roaming nutcracker hawkers kept busy as well.