Darty: a day-time party
Roughly four months into the spring semester, Howard University students finally caught a glimpse of the most anticipated season of the year: darty season.
The sunny Washington weekend weather invited the annual return of on and off-campus springtime festivities with two back-to-back darties Friday and Saturday. Beginning in late-March, the season brings sunshine, sundresses, sandals and smiles.
At Howard, darty season is much more than a single event marked by weather patterns and daylight hours. Like most things at the Mecca, the season symbolizes a culture and experience ingrained into the student body.
Senior Camille Neal has immersed herself into this culture and continues to enjoy the pre-summertime celebration.
“Howard is a vibe within itself. If you throw in a day party, some music and liquor, it’s unmatched. Darty season means that spring is here and spring at Howard is like your annual block party or family reunion. Once it’s hot out, you start seeing everybody especially those you haven’t seen since freshman year,” said Neal.
DJ Noble, also known as Kelechi Ononiwu, shared similar sentiments as a senior.
“Springtime at Howard is very special. This is one of the many times where everyone is able to enjoy our school. The spring semester is always rough academically which is why darty season is highly anticipated. This one month of consistent sunlight is the best time to be at Howard.”
By eagerly capitalizing on every 75-degree day, the season is welcomed with open arms. Students look noticeably happier, El Rey or Pure usually turn into an after move and social media is typically filled with sunkissed photos matched with clever captions.
For women in particular, the pop-out event features an array of trendy yet comfortable looks that usually give birth to a full set of Pinterest fashion boards. After months of hibernation, the time finally comes to ditch the oversized coats and baseball caps for a neck-turning outfit planned days in advance.
A self-described fashionista, sophomore Deja Davenport said she enjoys dressing up for darties–specifically so her entire outfit can be seen.
“If you look good, you feel good. Many students love fashion and will use any event to make anything into a look. There are so many different combinations that we want to make and create and so many different ways to dress ourselves.”
With the high demand for darties, the season comes with its own challenges for various party promotional groups. F-Squad, one of Howard’s newest groups to emerge into the party scene, says many townhouses in D.C. do not have adequate backyard space to accommodate everyone.
“It’s difficult finding a space that is both close in proximity to Howard and owned by someone willing to let us throw darties. There is also a chance that police will eventually shut it down due to noise complaints from neighbors,” said F-Squad founder Zaire Johnson.
“It’s great that we are able to leave a legacy and help students create long-lasting memories. As a promoter, when the weather gets above 70 degrees, it’s go time! Everybody on campus is looking for you to provide an event and if you don’t, you have failed them,” said Johnson.
Although most students may not understand the concept of reading a dance floor or mastering transitions and spontaneous improvised set structures, the season puts a big spotlight on Howard DJs. Spinning for at least seven darties, Noble says his role “is slightly undervalued but a very humbling experience.”
“As a DJ, I enjoy making people happy by creating a care-free and welcoming environment through music. Since darties last longer throughout the day and students are not pressed to hear the hottest tracks, I can be more unconventional because the crowd wants to hear good music and good transitions.”
“The music hits differently when you’re outside–like a summer vibe. It’s sad that once I graduate, I’ll be too grown to be popping up at darties. My Howard darty days are almost over,” Neal said.
The power of vitamin D should not to be underestimated. During darty season, the sun contributes to what Neal, Davenport and Noble describe as peace, joy and a happier spirit. According to the three, the seasonal change brings a more inclusive environment.
“The best thing about darty season is the unity amongst everyone. The communal environment puts everyone in a good mood. At house parties it’s too hot to speak, people are bothered, but at darties it’s the complete opposite. Everyone is excited to be there and talk to each other. The fact that we’re outside changes everybody’s vibe,” Davenport said.
Darty season is the taste of Howard students feen for. Students describe it as a magical oasis filled with memorable events including Springfest, LaTex and Daycation. The season will continue to have a lasting impact on Howard’s culture and help define the HBCU experience.
The experience would not be complete without these 10 must-have songs compiled by Neal, Davenport and Noble for your perfect darty playlist.
See how students are celebrating the season!