…Tips for ensuring you have fun all through this party season
I am one of those people who swear that they don’t like going to the average Nigerian party or “owambe”, as we call it. Literally meaning “it is here” or “he/she is here”, I prefer to interpret it as “this is where it is happening”. It is a Yoruba word, but this does not mean that it only refers to a Yoruba party as the word now belongs to the Nigerian dictionary.
Owambes typically involve a lot of spending that pays for an experience filled with food, drinks, music, and socialising. Sometimes one wonders where people get the money to put these events together, considering all the tales of economic woe we hear about Nigeria. Almost nothing has succeeded in putting a dampener on our social spirit, including covid-19 and its many variants.
I often find owambes too busy: very noisy with too many people, and causing too much stress. Secretly, however, I enjoy them as long as I don’t have to attend one every weekend and I don’t have to spend hours there. At this time of the year, one is most likely faced with multiple parties as there is one almost every day and certainly, every weekend. There is always a reason to celebrate something, whether it is a wedding, birthday, funeral, or chieftaincy ceremony.
I consider owambes as a temporary distraction from Naija and its many wahalas. At every event, all you see is happiness: laughing, smiling and dancing. Many of the guests are dressed in bespoke colour coordinated asoebi (literally meaning “clothes for the family” in Yoruba, these are outfits made from similar material which guests purchase as a show of solidarity with the organiser). Then there are different kinds of food and drinks which one does not regularly eat or drink at home. And of course, there’s the music from bands and DJs that either touch your soul or your purse/ wallet, ensuring that you leave something behind: your sorrows or your money.
Everyone on earth must experience an owambe in their lifetime, and December is one of the best times to do so. Some people say they dislike attending owambes, but I find this hard to believe because we all have that owambe spirit in us.
Receiving an invitation precedes the event, and if you know a fair amount of people, you would be invited to as many parties as you can attend. Invitations could come either directly from the organisers, friends and family of the organisers, or friends of friends and family. Your decision to attend a party: whether you get the asoebi and ultimately how long you spend at the event, is dependent on the degree of closeness to the person who has extended the invitation.
Is confirming or declining attendance necessary? In reality, almost no one RSVPs except the event is strictly by invitation, and even then, if the organisers like, let them not plan for you simply because you overlooked such a trifling thing as confirming your attendance. Everyone knows that good organisers plan for at least thrice the number of expected guests, so you have nothing to worry about. Invitations are simply guiding notes to provide details of the event: what it is about, the venue, the date and time, and the asoebi details. Do you see that part at the bottom of the IV that provides contact details to RSVP? It is ok to ignore.
But what if you heard about the party but did not get an invitation and would love to attend? Not a bother, you could either hustle to get one or just get someone to make a copy of the IV or send you the digital version; this way, you know when and where to show up. The IV came with an access card? Don’t let a little thing like that distract you from your potential enjoyment, are you a learner? There are many ways to get into the hall, you just have to get creative.
Now, for the asoebi, you must order for it immediately: this is extremely critical as it could make or mar your party experience. If you did not receive a direct invitation, just get the person who invited you to organise your asoebi. And if that connection is a bit too long, you could take a picture of the asoebi (or cut a small piece of your friend’s asoebi), and enter the market sharply before the organisers buy all the available pieces of the material.
Even though an IV may simply be a guiding note, where it is considered a mandatory item, the asoebi can ensure your entry into that heavily guarded hall without displaying your non-existent IV. This requires some bravado and covert or overt attachment to one of the party organisers, so you can follow them into the hall. To achieve this, the degrees of separation between you and the organisers must be as short as possible. If all else fails, you can appreciate the security guards for being so hardworking. There is dignity in labour and they would be very grateful for not just your kind words, but also whatever else you appreciate them with, as they let you in.
The IV says the party starts at 2 pm, but you know that no one would be caught dead arriving at that time, have you no food at home? Being fashionably late is expected: you must not appear so desperate; you are not the celebrant. Anyway, no lady would arrive at the exact start time as it takes half a day to lay on all that makeup. Be sure to gradually waltz in at least two or maybe three hours after the advertised time: this is when the party starts.
If your tailor likes you, as in really likes you, your entrance is bound to get noticed. Ladies, you must choose your style from one of the trending dresses off any of the international fashion week events: your tailor, sorry designer, is up to the task. Don’t make the mistake of going for anything simple, you are out to make a statement. Guys, if you did not buy the complete 10 yards of the asoebi, just make sure your tailor sews a kaftan, otherwise, your agbada could end up looking like a danshiki especially if you have plenty of muscles or a potbelly. Ladies and gentlemen, your clothes must be moulded to your body. If your designer did their work, you will make heads turn above all that party noise, trust me on this.
How you enter the event is especially important as you would have to contend with those people who don’t have food at home. Trust them to have cornered the best seats: the ones near the dessert table, the cocktail bars, and probably the ones closest to the stage and band/DJ. Never mind that they completely ignored the table placeholders detailing seating arrangements. You have nothing to fear as long as you dress to impress (or kill). What is the ushers work if not to ensure that you get seated appropriately? However, remember nothing goes for nothing.
There are so many more tips, so you will have to keep a date with me next week for the continuation. Just be patient: one must never be in a hurry for life-changing tips, and you know, this is the way I see things today.