CSU, Chico News

Harlem Renaissance Rent Party—Costume Party for a Cause

Date: 01-24-2011

Kathleen McPartland
Public Affairs
Tracy Butts
Department of English

California State University, Chico's Black Faculty and Staff Association and the School of the Arts will celebrate Black History Month by hosting a Harlem Renaissance Rent Party on Thurs., Feb. 3 at 5 p.m. on the Harlen Adams Theatre stage (PAC 141). Everyone is welcome, and all revenue from the event will support student scholarships.

The Harlem Renaissance Rent Party will be filled with partygoers dressed up as figures from the period. Partygoers can be anyone they choose as long as that person was alive sometime between Jan. 1, 1919 and Dec. 31, 1929. There will be prizes for the best costumes.

Rent Parties started in the 1910s to offset rising rents. Hosts would hire musicians and charge an entry fee to raise money to pay their rent. Attendees could also purchase Southern-style food. The parties played a major role in the development of jazz and blues music.

A cultural movement from the 1920s and 1930s in New York City’s Harlem neighborhood, the Harlem Renaissance gave birth to many mainstream African American writers and musicians. The movement had significant influence on the development of literature, theatre, art and politics.

"This year marks the sixth year of the Harlem Renaissance Rent Party,” said Tracy Butts, coordinator of the event. “Each year it gets better, thanks in large part to Mike Johnson, who continues to amaze us with his outstanding set designs. When you walk onto the Harlen Adams stage, it really truly is as though you have stepped back into time. Forget the food, the music and entertainment, the costume contests, the time to socialize with old and new friends. Come to the Rent Party for no other reason than to see what Mike comes up with this year. It's the closest any of us will ever come to time travel."

Donations of $5 or more will be welcomed at the door.

For more information, contact Butts, professor in CSU, Chico’s Department of English and director of Multicultural and Gender Studies, at 898-5151 or via e-mail, tbutts@csuchico.edu.