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This past Wednesday, I started off my night on a planned friend date to get tacos and we decided to check out Mission in Dupont. Right before I left for our taco mecca, I stumbled across the Facebook event for an event called In Full Effect and suggested that we check it out after.

My friend, being a DJ herself, is always down to check out new parties and seeing as it was in the U Street Corridor, we figured there was no reason not to at least check it out.

Bellies filled with wonderful tacos, we arrived to the party ready to see what the vibe was like. We got there early, so we caught the tail end of the happy hour event. To my surprise, I got to listen to dancehall and reggaeton and that put me in a good mood. Dancehall and reggaeton, in a way, is like soul food. It puts me at ease, makes me feel welcome, and breathes positive energy into my being.

I sometimes have a hard time relaxing. It can be a struggle. Bless my poor assistant’s heart: homeboy brings enough mochi to keep my anxiety at bay at the drop of a hat. So just having familiar music at this party mellowed me out enough to get in the groove of things.

Already in the positive frame of mind, I took it upon myself to meet the promoters of High Caliber Events. HCE organized the party, which has been going strong for the last few weeks since its inception, and they were super friendly and welcoming.

They would later tell me their mission with In Full Effect is to showcase amazing female talent in D.C. with diversity as a priority and “love vibes” as the aesthetic. Mollie, one of the co-creators of the party, said In Full Effect is about “Helping uplift other women in business, in arts, in music, and to bring them together.” Obviously, with the work I do in the city, this resonated on a deeply personal level. It also strengthened my appreciation for the party and had me wondering, how did it take me four weeks to come across something so dope?

It’s a free party, on a day of the week where not much else happens in the city, where they play the kind of music I like. Your guilty pleasures. Your throwback hip-hop. The reggaeton and dancehall that used to rock that building back when it was still Patty Boom Boom. Hell – they even had jerk chicken for the dancefloor snackers and hookah tables for the people who like to do hookah.

The party continued to rage on from there where I was taken aback by how diverse the crowd was, how industry it was without being pretentious, and how fabulous the music was. At multiple points throughout the evening, I found myself gleeful that there was a space where young people, older people, drag queens, people of color, white people, men, women, straights, queers, and just about any combination of the aforementioned could find a place where they could be themselves without snide remarks or unwelcome behavior.

Even those who had clearly walked in from the street with no idea of what was going on seemed to gel with the vibe of the party. It was a breath of fresh air.

We have a tendency to forget sometimes that even though we are living at a time where many are open-minded and pushing revolutionary thought, we can still be exclusive. There have been times going out in D.C. where places I believed were safe spaces turned out to be not so friendly either because of my gender, orientation, or a combination of the two. I understand that not everyone can be perfect, there are even times when I’ve made bad judgments or assumptions, but there are expectations when you’re going out to some of these parties.

And, sometimes, it unfortunately isn’t the shining, gold star you expect it to be which can be disappointing.

So, with that said, finding a safe space within a place that wasn’t specifically labeled as such – in an environment with such a diverse array of persons – left me pleasantly surprised and happy to have taken a leap of faith on a party I knew nothing about.