The Caucasian Guide to Black Parties

By Michael Harriot

As part of our continuing efforts to help our Caucasian friends adjust to a world that is quickly transforming to a more integrated society, we would like to offer some advice for those rare occasions when you find yourself at a Black party.

Know What Kind of Party You Are Attending: When you receive your invite, make sure you arm yourself with the knowledge of the specific type of event that you will be attending. You should know the 4 basic types of Black parties. They are mostly distinguished by location, and how the alcohol ins served:

  1. A “Get Together”ex. “Jerry, I’m having a get together this weekend. Come through.” – This is a semi-impromtu event usually held at someone’s house.I know your white-people sensibilities will want more details, but resist the urge to gather specific information. The beauty of a Black get-together is that no one knows who will actually show up–not even the person throwing the get-together. At get togethers, the guests are responsible for the drinks. Some people will keep theirs in a bag or keep theirs in the trunk, while others may put some beer in the refrigerator or the cooler. There is always a white and blue cooler (Side Note: DO NOT SIT ON THE COOLER!)When at a get-togetheralways ask before you grab a beer.No one cares if you do, but it is still the polite thing to do. If you aren’t sure who to ask, ask LaJuana. LaJuana is that one Black woman who is at every occasion. She is pretty, friendly, sophisticated but a little bit ratchet. Everyone seems to know her, and even when you can’t see her, you can hear her, because she has the loudest laugh in the room.
  2. A “Thing” – ex. “Hey Wally, some friends of mine are having a thing on Friday.” A thing is a step higher than a get-together. Do not take thing invites lightly, because this mention actually counts as a formal invitation to a thing. You should also be aware that the person inviting you is not the host. Usually they are just someone who has a loose affiliation with said event. Although it is still very informal, (and by “informal” I mean “Black Informal” not “White Informa”l) so do not wear shorts and flip-flops. I know that as part of the bylaws of the White Privilege manifesto you are allowed to wear flip-flops anywhere–to church, to concerts, to the Metropolitan Opera– but at the bare minimum a thing requires full length pants. If you are a woman, jeans are ok. If you are a guy, wear some boat shoes and a pair of Dockers. Don’t act like you don’t own any. I know white people are born with boat shoes and 2 pair of Dockers. I had a white roommate in college, and every year his free pair of boat shoes came in the mail.The guests and the hosts provide alcohol at a “thing.” They usually place the drinks in a common area–usually on the kitchen counter. You do not have to ask permission to fix a drink at a thing,  but you shouldn’t expect top shelf libations either. In fact, one of the ways you can tell if you are at a thing or a get together is by what they call the refreshments. At a thing, you will always be told that there is “some liquor over there.” At things, the bar is properly referred to as “Some liquor.”
  3. A “Party” – When invited to a party, you should know that “invited” has a very loose interpretation. You may actually have to pay at the door. Parties don’t take place in homes, they are usually held at clubs or a place where someone has rented a building, so bring some money to pay your entry fee. And for the bar. There is no such thing as an “open bar” at a Black event. Don’t forget to say “Happy birthday.” If you are at a party, it is usually someone’s birthday, maybe even Lajuana’s. According to the U.S. Census 89.8% of all Black parties are for birthdays. Black people love birthdays–not because they are narcissistic–but because, if you are Black, surviving a year without having been stricken with illness, falling victim to tragedy or being shot by a police officer for a broken taillight is actually an accomplishment. You don’t have to bring a gift, but you should buy the birthday boy or girl a drink, which should make you happy. I know, White people love buying other people a drink.
  4. An “Event” – An event is the highest level of a Black party. Most Black events are either a “party with a purpose,” “Grown and Sexy”  or both. You will probably have to buy a ticket for an event, unless you want to pay at the door… And trust me–you do not want to pay at the door. If a Black event costs $20 in advance, it costs $3,039 at the door.You should wear your best clothes to an event. Lajuana will have on a tight, black cocktail dress because LaJuana has 43 tight black cocktail dresses, and one white one. (You gotta be ready for the all-white party. Black people love anything where you wear all-white–including parties, Karate classes and baptisms). You should also prepare to wait a long time at the bar, because Federal regulations stipulate that there can only be 1 bartender for every 742 people at Black events.There will be a VIP area at the event with tables whose average cost is equivalent to the Gross Domestic Product of Turkmeinistan. While this may seem excessive, you should understand this money covers the extra expense of the velvet rope that separates the VIP. The velvet rope is the only benefit of VIP because actual important people don’t pay extra money to be segregated, but you’re white, so I’m sure you already know this.

Relax – Once you are inside a Black party, relax. Being the minority race in a room will seem strange, but welcome to our world. We experience this every day at work, at co-worker’s weddings, and at any restaurant besides Applebees and Red Lobster. Don’t worry about people looking at you funny or treating you any different because there is always one White person at any black gathering, so we’re used to it. Plus, we love the cool white dude. Sooner or later someone–probably LaJuana–will start a conversation with you and you’ll become their best friend for the evening. Then they will parade you around and introduce you to everyone at the party.

Attendees – Black parties are the most demographically diverse gatherings of people in America. No socioeconomic and societal barriers exist at Black events. While there are honky-tonks, white biker bars and  Caucasian country club soirees, in this country, Black is an all-encompassing description. At Black nightclubs, Black doctors party alongside Black teachers and Black dope dealers. When attending a Black get-together you might hear a conversation between a lawyer, an aspiring rapper and a factory worker. Black events are democratic and have nothing to do with money or power. Instead, status is determined by outfits, booties and who brought the best liquor. (Side Note: LaJuana consistently ranks in the top 5 in two of the three categories. You can decide which ones).

Music and DancingAll Black events will have music and dancing. The music is the most important part of all Black parties, so choosing an experienced DJ is of utmost importance. Whether you are attending a get together with music coming from an iPhone with an auxiliary cord, or an event with a paid DJ, the tone of the party will be set by the music. Most of these affairs usually follow a centuries-tested music timeline:

  • The Groove – While everyone arrives, the music will be laid back, social tunes you can groove to. Think Erykah Badu or J. Cole. This is the mingling, fixing-a-plate, starting-a-conversation-with-that-chick-in-the-black-cocktail-dress, trying-to-look-cute-so-that-fine-dude-who-brought-the-Hennesy-will-holla-at-you, sucking-down-the-good-liquor-before-it’s-gone portion of the evening.
  • The Climb – Once everyone has arrived, the music will get progressively “crunk.” Heads will bob, people begin to tell jokes, and LaJuana’s laugh gets louder and higher pitched. The DJ plays the Wobble and a few people start to dance. Even though it’s not Led Zeppelin and there is not one guitar solo to be found, even you can even feel it. It’s the drums–they will get you every time. You begin to think “what is this wonderful, bass-filled, negro song called…” and then, the DJ will play line dance music.I know it can be overwhelming, but don’t let the mixture of Bud Light Lime and white confidence fool you into thinking it doesn’t matter if you don’t know the steps, the “Wobble” looks like fun. The night is just beginning and you don’t want to get the side-eye for bumping into people because you don’t know what you’re doing–or worse yet–because you stepped on LaJuana’s shoes. Just wait. You’ll have your chance.
  • The Turn Up – This is the ratchet portion of the evening. Immediately following the line dances, the evening will go into turn up mode. You’re a little drunk and you can dance now. As we have said before, Black people can dance, but no one loves to dance like White people. Let it go. Just writhe rhythmlessly in the middle of the floor. We love when you do that. The two most entertaining things in the Black Universe are:
    1.  When white people hear a hip hop song they like, and rap along, or
    2. When white people dance.Even the most sophisticated people at the party will partake in the turn up. If you position yourself in the proximity to that fine-ass guy who you’ve been trading glances with all night, he will ask you to dance. When you see LaJuana on the floor twerking with her girlfriends, just walk up to her and start dancing. I guarantee she will rub her booty on your thigh. She didn’t squeeze her ass into that cocktail dress not to shake it. Plus, everyone likes the cool ass-white dude.When the  DJ plays “Back That Ass Up” by Juvenile, you might orgasm from the ecstatic frenzy. LaJuana just “dropped it low” and now there is a group of women doing an African dance with high-pitched screams through the party. Those are Deltas, and that is call a “party hop.” You will also hear some guys barking and maybe even doing the same style of rhythmic dances. Those are “Ques.” Don’t ask why they took their shirts off. They always do that.
  • The Descent – As is required by the Black Party Constitution (ratified in 1555), the evening will end with slow songs. I’m sure you are used to the ending the night with “Closing Time” or  Green Day’s “Time of Your Life” but a Black party, the night is not over until crotches are rubbed on thighs and handfuls of booties are hesitantly palmed while gyrating to R. Kelly’s nastiness or Luther Vandross’ tenderness.

Leaving – While leaving you will invariably see five things:

  1. A fight – I’m sure you are used to this. I know there are more per capita fights at white events, but unlike you do at your white events, DO NOT go see what’s happening or try to break it up.  Just keep walking to your car, because they are going to start shooting in a minute.
  2. Two people who just met 28 minutes ago tongue-kissing like they are in love.
  3. The girl you thought was so fine, but too tall for you to talk to will lose 6 inches of height because she took off her platform stilettos and changed into a pair of flip-flops.
  4. Someone leaving with a plate. All Black functions have food, and there is nothing better when you are drunk at 2:36 am than a 5 chicken wings doused in hot sauce and a piece of white bread.
  5. Two drunk girls trying to convince their even drunker girlfriend to get in the car. She will not get in the car. LaJuana never gets in the car.

By the end of the night you  will have had the time of your life, even though you were apprehensive about attending a Black party.  Finally, you should that know that despite our cultural, economic and social differences, deep in our hearts and beneath our skin lies one true fact: We are all…

Oh shit. They’re shooting!


About the author

Michael Harriot is a renowned spoken word poet, the host of The Black One podcast and the editor-in-chief of NegusWhoRead. He is perpetually just getting warmed up because he has no chill. He is on Instagram and twitter as @michaelharriot

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