Celebrate good times, come on! (Let’s celebrate)
Celebrate good times, come on! (Let’s celebrate)
There’s a party goin’ on right here
A celebration to last throughout the years
So bring your good times, and your laughter, too
We gonna celebrate your party with you
Come on now!
-Kool & The Gang, “Celebration”
This past Saturday night was the Girls Night Out Plus Hip-Hop and R&B Dance Party that was inspired by seeing the movie “NOTORIOUS” three weeks ago. The GNO started out with dinner near Union Square, and one of my friends had booked a reservation at Gonzo, which was super-yummy and had the perfect festive atmosphere to kick off the celebratory night, which was cause for celebration merely because my friends and I, who are rarely able to get together with one another individually, and almost never as a group, were able to all coordinate our schedules at this one intersecting point of Saturday night.
I was running late and when I arrived all my friends were already seated around the table, which was quite amazing considering that most NYC restaurants require parties to be complete before being seated. But anyway, as I was scurrying to my seat apologizing for my delay, my friend hoisted up a chocolate-colored gift bag with deep purple tissue paper puffing out from it, and handed it to me. “Happy Birthday!” she exclaimed.
My mind raced – my birthday is in September…my half-birthday is in a couple of weeks so maybe she was referring to that? “For Writeous Chicks!” she explained, seeing my puzzlement. Writeous Chicks was turning 3-years-old the next day, but I hadn’t thought to call it out and celebrate it. But my friend had, and turned our already festive GNO into a full-out celebration.
I opened my gift on behalf of Writeous Chicks, and it was a canister of Godiva Hot Chocolate and a couple of packets of flavored hot chocolate, because my friend and I are both dinah girls at heart, and know something that I discovered early on at about 5-years-old: that on a cold winter night, nothing really beats going to your local diner for a grilled cheese sandwich, a hot chocolate with fluffy whipped cream from a can, and conversation with good friends. The only thing that could possibly compete is recreating that scenario at home so you don’t have to venture out into the cold at all, and upgrading the hot chocolate to Godiva.
After we completed our delicious meal (I split a Caesar salad and the rigatoni with homemade meatballs with my friend sitting to the left of me, which we decided was the perfect meal to give us the required sustenance for a night of hip-hop dancing, but not too much to give us stomach aches and/or put us in a post-dinner food-coma, thus severely limiting our dance moves. It turned out, it was the perfect balance), the busboys and waitress cleared our cleared plates, and the waitress set down small dessert plates for everyone. “Are we getting dessert or coffee?” I asked, thinking that the protocol of this particular restaurant was just to automatically place plates/saucers down for everyone after the meal.
After a chorus of mumbled “Uh, I don’t knows…” from my friends, the waitress arrived with the crispy meringue praline ice cream sandwich sporting a sparkling candle, and set it down in front of me. They had requested it when they were all assembled before I got to the restaurant, so I guess sometimes it pays to be late and miscalculate your Saturday night subway commute, allotting just enough time to get to your destination on time if the subway slides into the station as you set your foot on the platform, and not accounting for, say, non-rush hour infrequent schedules and weekend service delays.
I joyously beamed at my alighted ice cream sandwich, so happy to be celebrating Writeous Chicks’ birthday for the very first time, complete with a gift, a decadent dessert with a candle sprouting out of it, and the opportunity to look into the flame and make a wish(es) before blowing it out.
After dinner we moved on down to our next destination and onto the dance floor. More of our friends showed up and joined us in waves, until we were more than 10 ladies on the dance floor, shaking it from the HIP to the HOP. The DJ played the perfect mix of old school and new school hip-hop and R&B, and we threw our hands in the air for Naughty by Nature’s “Hip Hop Hooray,” and stepped on down memory lane to “Here Comes the Hotstepper” by Ini Kamoze. The DJ even took my request for “Real Love” by Mary J., and dancing to it brought me all the way back to dancing to that same song in the summer of 1993 with my high school best friends at The Pinewood in Riverdale, where you had to be “18 to party, 21 to drink,” but even though I didn’t turn 18 until the fall, I had already attended my college’s summer orientation and received my school id, which, if you had asked me that last summer before going away to school, was the best investment of college. Wearing my standard summer of ’93 uniform – body suit/Daisy Dukes/faux Doc Martens/beaded choker – my friends and I mimicked this dance a couple guys in our class did involving taking big exaggerated steps, sticking your arms straight out in front of you, and alternately flipping your palms up and down, and sang along as Biggie came on with the breakdown: “Look up in the sky! It’s a bird, it’s a plane, no it’s Mary J., ain’t a damn thing changed!” And we would act surprised like: Is it a bird? Is it a plane? No, it’s Mary J.! Celebrating in that way that comes so much easier when you are in high school, when every Friday night is a cause for celebration, and when you are in your last summer before college, where every single night is a cause for celebration.
This past weekend, my friends and I turned a regular old Saturday night in February 2009 into a cause for celebration, celebrating our group of friends and the joys of new school and old school hip-hop and R&B, by taking the time to plan a Girls Night Out when we are at an age where people are hectically busy, usually over-committed and over-extended, often tired and depleted, and schedules don’t seamlessly or easily fit together anymore. It took work, pro-active effort, and planning to make it happen, but it was more than worth it for the joy of adding a splash of festivity and a dash of celebration to regular old winter night. And my fabulous friends took it to the next level by calling out the event of the 3rd birthday of Writeous Chicks, and mixing in an extra-special celebration for it, and for having these wonderful friends with which to celebrate the joys and accomplishments of life, and to bring out the celebration and joy in the everyday occurrences of life as well, I am so very grateful.
It is my experience that we do not celebrate nearly enough – we don’t always (and sometimes even rarely, or never) call out and acknowledge our accomplishments and milestones – both big and small – and share the celebration with our friends and families, and we don’t have time to have a party for “no reason” when “nothing special” is going on. We can maybe celebrate the big things, like anniversaries and holidays and birthdays, but then trudge along for months at a time in a celebration deficit. Soooooooo….
Is there something you can celebrate – this month? this week? today? right now? Something you feel extra-great about that you want to call your friends and tell them to meet you at a diner, or a restaurant, or a coffee shop, or on a dance floor, to celebrate? Or something that you think is no big deal and brush off, but when you start to think about it more, you realize that it IS a big deal, and you are proud of yourself, if you let yourself be, and it absolutely IS reason to celebrate? Or, could you have a party for no reason at all, where YOU are the something special?
Make a list of everything you have to celebrate in your life RIGHT NOW, of everything you could possibly celebrate, and then flip through your calendar, pick a date, pick a time, AND HAVE A PARTY! And forget the pencil – write it down with a brightly colored Sharpie!
Happy Celebrating To You, Happy Celebrating To You, Happy Celebrating Dear Yooou-ou, Happy Celebrating to You!
See you at the party!
Copyright © 2009 by Jennifer Garam