Updated Mar 21, 2024 - News

Hulu’s new "Freaknik" doc showcases Atlanta's wildest party

A still image of Black women dancing on top of a man's vehicle in Atlanta during an undated Freaknik festival. Photo: Courtesy of Hulu

One of the more...G-rated images of people during one of Atlanta's Freaknik events. Photo: Courtesy of Hulu

Let's cut to it: The Freaknik documentary gets lewd. But don't get lost in the sauce because the film also highlights Atlanta's creative evolution.

Why it matters: "Freaknik: The Wildest Party Never Told," released on Thursday on Hulu, examines the transformation of a small 1983 Black college cookout into a culturally revolutionary festival in the '80s and '90s.

Producer Nikki Byles told the AJC the Freaknik footage was approved by every "person who gave it to us," and "everyone in there is collateral damage."

Fun fact: It was originally called "Freaknic" after the "Le Freak" song by funk-disco band Chic.

  • The popular NBC sitcom "A Different World" had a "Freaknic" episode.

Freaknik's early years filled a void for Atlanta college students who couldn't leave for spring break.

  • Out-of-state Black people later drove in for Freaknik, thus establishing Atlanta's influence in Black fashion, food, music, education, politics and entrepreneurism.

Yes, but: Freaknik ended in 1999. It became international, traffic-stopping libertinism in the '90s.

  • Black people were expressing various degrees of sexual liberation.
  • Then-mayor Bill Campbell restricted Freaknik for the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta.
  • Although Freaknik participants called the backlash racially motivated, the city reported many sexual assaults during Freaknik.
A vehicle of Black college students celebrating during Freaknik on Piedmont Avenue in Atlanta.
Freaknik was initially a safe outlet for fun among Black college students during spring break. Photo: Courtesy of Hulu

Party promoters' efforts to revive Freaknik in the 2010s were met with pushback from city officials and Atlanta has never seen festivities on par with the celebrations of the 1990s.

The film includes producers and rappers Jermaine Dupri, Uncle Luke, and 21 Savage.

  • It also features Atlanta rappers CeeLo Green, Rasheeda Frost, Lil Jon, and Killer Mike.

What they're saying: "As a Black woman … it was really the only time that I was part of the majority," said festival founder Sharon Toomer.

  • "I just brought the 'freak' to 'Freaknik.' S**t, somebody had to do it," said Uncle Luke, who adds later in the film, "It was our Woodstock."

Lil Jon called Freaknik "the greatest Black gathering in America," a citywide "street party."

  • But Toomer (and many others) said Freaknik had to stop because it lost its spark and devolved into a scene for "the degradation of women."

The film declares Freaknik will never return, despite Atlanta's Freaknik-inspired events in 2019 and 2022.

However, it also declares that Black people still deserve in-person spaces for Black joy.

Check out "Freaknik" now on Hulu.


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