The D. C. Holiday Party Circuit

Since I've been back, I've been told countless times that D.C. is a networking town. From what I've seen, they do it well. I've been pursuing opportunities to mix and mingle and have had a really good time of it so far. As someone fairly new to adulthood, it's bizarre having to get my ID checked so that I can enter the place I'm hanging out, but most of these parties were 21+. I went to all but one party alone. My goals were to meet new people, find out what's going on in D.C., meet other creatives, and figure out which associations are worth joining. The ratings below are based on those goals. Here's what I found:

The One Holiday Party

12/2/15     6-10pm     Rosebar     $45 (non member)

My Ratings
Food/Drink: A++ 
Ambiance: A+
Connections: A
Value for Price: A
Attendance Estimate: 150+ people
Would Go Again?: Yes

This was a joint party that brought together DC professionals in advertising, marketing, media, and design. The most prominent host was the DC Ad Club. The ticket included 2 drinks, and a coat check and hors-d'oeuvres were provided. I arrived at 6:30 and the room was buzzing. There was a great energy; everyone seemed happy to be there and eager to connect. Most everyone was in the mindset of networking, so the conversations were quick and the cards were plentiful. The bar was colorfully lit; dim enough to be moody, but bright enough to clearly see the people around me, and there was no music competing with conversations. The capacity seemed just right, there was a back room for spillover, so the main room never got too crowded. And most importantly, I met several other creative and interesting people to follow up with. The gourmet style hors-d'oeuvres circulating were absolutely delicious, and because of the timing of the party they wound up being my dinner. In more ways than one, I left satisfied

Tech the Halls

12/9/15     6-9pm     Capitale     $20 (student)

My Ratings
Food/Drink: B+ 
Ambiance: B
Connections: A
Value for Price: A
Attendance Estimate: 200+ people
Would Go Again?: Yes

 

This was another joint hosted event, the primary host being DC Web Women. This one was the most "party". They had cute reusable swag bags with a sharpie, adobe free trial, and flyers. There were raffle tickets, and a DJ who CRANKED the music. It would be ideal if you were going with people you already knew, and mainly going to have a good time. Indeed there were lots of groups that came together. As someone whose goal was to meet people, the music was a bit too loud for my aims (you wind up talking in people's ear), and at one point it was body-to-body crowded. Apparently the drinks ran out in the first hour or so (I wasn't drinking that night). They also put away the food tables rather early (which had a veggie platter, fruit, and what looked like mini spinach cups). I was saved by a business they had there with pumpkin bread that was absolutely kickin'. I went back for thirds. They're called Bananatopia (they focus on banana bread) and you should definitley check out their website - highly delicious.

It was a tech party so I wasn't sure if I'd meet other creatives. I went because I do have tech skills and am looking to work in digital media as well, so there's crossover. I did run into some filmmakers there, and people looking for filmmakers, and so definitely made some nice connections. This party also had the most young people of the bunch I attended, so great for finding friends who are my age.

NAACP DC Holiday Party

12/10/15     6:30-8:30pm      The African American Civil War Museum      Free

My Ratings
Food/Drink: A++ 
Ambiance: C+ 
Connections: F
Value for Price: A (I mean, it's a free meal) 
Attendance Estimate: 70 people
Would Go Again?: No

My mother actually heard about it so I went with her, and I'm glad I didn't go alone. This one was not publicized as a networking party or mixer, and it turned out to not be a good place to meet people. The first part of the party was the December meeting (understandable), and the second part was dinner and, I assumed, socializing. Now the dinner was outstanding, especially for a free event. They had it catered by Ben's Chilli Bowl (if you're in DC and have never tried Ben's Chili Bowl, you're missing out). The food was excellent, and it didn't run out. However, there was little socializing, and no mixing. Any groups of people talking were quite insular. People would make eye contact and then look away. Or if any one did say hi, there was no follow up. It was surprisingly unfriendly. 

Even though the night wasn't about networking, I was hoping to be able to mix casually, just like you might at any event. I was especially looking forward to meeting more black folk, but I was disappointed. But it was a free event, so I can't actually be too upset. On the positive side, I did really like getting to look around the Civil War Museum. It was a nice exhibit and I had never been before, so I appreciated the space. 

Docs in Progress

12/11/15     7-10pm     The Docs in Progress House     $25 minimum donation

My Ratings
Food/Drink: A+ 
Ambiance: A
Connections: A+ 
Value for Price: A+ 
Attendance Estimate: 100 people
Would Go Again?: Absolutely

It was absolutely lovely. There was plenty of food and drink, the desserts were delicious, and the program was beautiful. I got to hear the inspiring stories of influential black journalists, including Maureen Bunyan who I grew up watching (I kind of freaked out). This did seem to be an event where more people knew each other than not, but I did manage to saddle up to some conversations and met quite a few people who were very warm and welcoming. This celebration really showed me the power of black community on a professional level, and I quickly became a member. I felt folded in the group even as a newbie and I can't wait to get more involved.

WIFV/ TIVA party (Update!)

2/05/16 6:30-8:30     Harman Center for the Arts     $20 (member, early)

I was particularly excited about this one because I've attended WIFV events in both Boston and D.C., and found them to be very enjoyable and informative. The original date of Jan 22nd got pushed back because of snow to Feb 5th. I signed up under my WIFV membership, and it was great to learn more about TIVA from their members there.

My Ratings
Food/Drink: A+ 
Ambiance: A
Connections: A- 
Value for Price: A
Attendance Estimate: 220 people
Would Go Again?: Yes

This gathering felt very large, probably because it was a large group of people in a large space. The Shakespeare theater mezzanine was a majestic venue, high ceilings, modern lighting, and a glass pane wall overlooking the street on one side. They reported 220 in attendance, and there seemed to be a lot of people who already knew each other from other WIFV and TIVA functions. There was plenty of seating, and there were more full on conversations being had. This party had two photo booths, raffle ticket prizes, and plenty of food - savory and desert. I had fewer conversations, but stayed longer in the ones I did have and was glad to be able to re-connect with folks I'd met earlier through WIFV. I also liked that everyone at this party was directly involved in TV or film, so there were lots of common interests to be discussed. I'd definitely attend again!