Howard University Homecoming is this weekend, and for those who can't decide between seeing Waka Flocka or Rick Ross, going to the step show or posting up on Georgia Avenue, Joi-Marie McKenzie, editor-in-chief of DC Fab and the three other city sites of the Fab Empire, is there to guide you through the packed schedule of concert, parties, and official school events.
Since last year, McKenzie has produced "An Insider's Guide to Howard University's Homecoming," an online publication highlighting homecoming events selected by her and her staff.
McKenzie said it started with last year's Congressional Black Caucus weekend. "It was one of those things where everybody was texting, emailing, and calling, saying, 'Where should we go? Where should we go?'" she says. "That was before the iPhone had a copy/paste function, so instead of replying to everyone, we put a special package on the site, and said, 'This is where all the cool people will be.'"
That guide was so successful that McKenzie decided to do another one for 2009 Howard Homecoming festivities. "Again, everyone was calling, texting, and emailing saying, 'Where should we be?" she says. So, the Howard Homecoming guide was created as a way to help not only Howard alums and students, but also out-of-towners looking to find the best events.
"Howard Homecoming isn't just for alumni and students, it's for the whole community," McKenzie says. "It draws more than 100,00 people annually, so there are people coming in who have no idea about Washington."
The guide provides a pretty comprehensive look at homecoming festivities (which technically started last week, but really get going tomorrow), but McKenzie is selective—not every event makes the cut.
"We don’t put everything in," she says. "The Fab Empire, and DC Fab, in particular, tries to represent quality events for the young, urban professional. We really try to take only the best events so people won’t waste their time—or money."
That means unknown promoters with no track record of throwing successful events probably won't make the guide. "Our website has been up for three years, and we work with promoters, so we know almost everyone who throws parties and special events in Washington," McKenzie says. "We don't know every single person, but if we haven't heard of them, and no one we know has—if we ask friends, 'Have you heard of this place or person?' and they're like, 'No, girl'—then no."
McKenzie has a ton of weekend events listed in her guide, but here are a few she's especially looking forward to:
J. Cole, Solange, and B.o.B at the Mansion: "I'm most excited about the Mansion all weekend," she says. "It's a new pop-up, and it hasn't been overrun by people yet. There are some great performers: J. Cole is performing on Friday, and Solange Knowles is DJing, and B.o.B is there on Saturday."
Rick Ross at Love on Saturday: "Rick Ross is performing at Yardfest on Friday, but on Saturday, he's doing an invitation-only concert at Love, being sponsored by Heineken. Free beer, Rick Ross—you really can't beat that."
Teatro Goldoni on Saturday: "If you just want to party, I'd recommend Teatro Goldoni on Saturday night. It's a semi-formal cocktail party, everyone is dressed to impress, and it's a sure thing for a good time."
Bar 7 with...Diddy? on Saturday: "Diddy, who went to Howard, but didn't graduate, throws a party every year at Love, but that's not going to happen this year. But the rumor is that he might be at Bar 7 this weekend. If he stops by, that would be great—and that would be somewhere you'd want to be."
McKenzie adds that people should plan carefully, because last-minute, late-night decisions could mean standing in a long line outside of a club instead of partying inside. She also recommends cabbing it to avoid wasting precious time looking for parking (or getting stranded once Metro closes), and to stay off of Georgia Avenue, unless you're looking to do some people watching—as anyone who is familiar with homecoming knows, it'll be a parking lot all weekend.