Ü-Tsang Dance Group
Ü-Tsang Dance Group at the Hennepin History Museum in Minneapolis on July 7, 2023. Credit: Photo courtesy of John Crippen.

Immerse yourself this weekend in a multicultural celebration tailored for Black, Indigenous, and people of color (BIPOC) sci-fi enthusiasts where art, futurism, and fantasy converge. Experience the rhythm of Tibetan music performances and explore the competitive world of air guitar in the comedic musical play, “Airness.” 

"The Dragon's Veil"; Public Functionary
“The Dragon’s Veil,” artwork by Kao Lee Thao. Credit: Photo courtesy of Public Functionary

A Multicultural Sci-Fi Convention 

“What would it be like if there was a convention that was centered in art and also in Black and brown people living their best life?” poses Tricia Heuring, Public Functionary’s artistic director. 

The art studio will be hosting “Confluence: A Cultured Multiverse,” a two-day sci-fi convention initiated by artist Leslie Barlow and curated for BIPOC geeks. The event will feature a diverse lineup of panels, workshops, gaming, and special guests celebrating art, sci-fi, futurism, and fantasy. 

Starting at 9:30 a.m., the convention will unfold with a day-long marketplace, youth activities, an art exhibition, a quiet room, and diverse food options at the art studio’s cafe. On Saturday, panel topics range from decolonizing fantasy to inclusive world-building and AfroFuturism. Workshops will cover 3-D printing, virtual reality, and zine-making. Gaming sessions include youth-focused and adult-focused board games, strategy games, and an after-hours lounge. 

Special guests Saturday include: Afro-Indigenous artist Junada Petrus, known for her work in Black futurism and ancestral healing. Ytasha Womack, author of “Afrofuturism: The World of Black Sci Fi & Fantasy Culture” and director of the Afrofuturist dance film, “A Love Letter to the Ancestors From Chicago.” Actress Trina McGee, best known for her role as Angela Moore on the ABC sitcom, “Boy Meets World,” will appear at the event and an evening discussion on A.I. and the future of film. 

The convention continues Sunday with panels on BIPOC character design, community organizing, horror in BIPOC cinema, and Asian geek culture. Workshops will include a sound bath, cosplay prosthetics, and native futurism. Tabletop roleplaying games will also be available. Pre-register here before Sunday, November 19, to participate in the tabletop games. 

Special guests Sunday include actor Harry Waters Jr., known for his role as Marvin Berry in the “Back to the Future” franchise; artist Patience Lekien; and social justice artist Ricardo Levins Morales

Find the schedule for both days here. 

  • Date: Saturday, November 18, and Sunday, November 19
  • Time: 9:30 a.m. to 8 p.m. both days. Dance party from 8 p.m. to 12 a.m. on Saturday.
  • Cost: Tickets start at $30 for one day, $45 for both Saturday and Sunday. Free for kids age 5 and under. Buy tickets here. 
  • Location: Northrup King Building, 1500 Jackson Street N.E., Minneapolis
  • For more information: Visit https://publicfunctionary.org/confluence-mn
Ü-Tsang Dance Group
Ü-Tsang Dance Group at the Hennepin History Museum in Minneapolis on July 7, 2023. Credit: Photo courtesy of John Crippen.

Tibetan music performances 

The Hennepin History Museum will host “Tibetan Music from the Himalayan Mountains,” featuring performances of Tibetan music and dance in collaboration with contributors from the museum’s photography exhibition, “Faraway Home: Tibetans in Minnesota.” 

The exhibition explores the resettlement of Tibetans in Minnesota and their refugee experience, as well as aspects of Tibetan history, Buddhism, and art. The exhibition’s featured photographers include local Tibetan photographer Tenzin Phuntsok Waleag and photographer Keri Pickett. 

The musical lineup includes Dorjee Phuntsok, Tenzin Choesang, Ngawang Tashi, Tashi Nyima, Thupten Dadak, and Ngawang Yeshi performing music from the Himalayas using traditional Tibetan instruments. 

"Airness"; North Hennepin Community College
Performers rehearsing for “Airness” at North Hennepin Community College Theatre on November 2, 2023. From left to right: Wealth Ndego, Max Wagner, Han Rhee, and Rob Winder. Credit: Photo courtesy of North Hennepin Community College

An air guitar comedy 

North Hennepin Community College will present “Airness,” a comedic play by Chelsea Marcantel delving into the world of air guitar enthusiasts battling it out for the National Air Guitar Championship. 

Directed by Chicanx scholar Irma Mayorga, the play explores themes of self-discovery, camaraderie, and the joy of the performing arts. The story follows Nina’s journey as she enters her first air guitar competition and befriends an electric group of air guitar enthusiasts. As Nina immerses herself in her musical adventure, she discovers that air guitar is more than just a fantasy—it’s a call to let loose and rock out on stage. 

The production, which contains mature themes and strong language, is recommended for audiences age 14 and older. Featuring stage fog, flashing lights, and music, “Airness” aims to inspire audiences to embrace their inner rock spirit. 

  • Date: Thursday, November 16, through Saturday, November 18 
  • Time: 7:30 p.m. 
  • Location: Black Box Theater located in North Hennepin Community College Campus Center, 7411 85th Ave. N., Minneapolis
  • Cost: Pay as you can or a $10 suggested donation. The theater has a 65-seat capacity per performance, so reserve a spot here. 
  • For more information: Visit https://www.nhcc.edu/airness-play-chelsea-marcantel

Myah Goff was a summer 2023 intern at Sahan Journal, and is currently pursuing a journalism degree at the University of Minnesota.