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in News - 18 Apr, 2017
by Curtis - no comments
A Glimpse Into The Rent Party Cards Collected By Langston Hughes

The Beinecke Library of Yale University is currently holding an exhibit of the collected rent party card by the poet Langston Hughes. These cards are used to campaign gatherings for raising funds and it happened during the tie in Harlem when discrimination in rent is prevalent.

Back in the middle century of Harlem, there is a gathering happening every Saturday night. These loud parties are usually happening in the midst of private apartment. The admission fee can be anywhere from 25 to 50 cents. The fees collected are then given to black tenants who are suffering from inflation in rent charges because of the low wages they are getting in Manhattan. During the party, there is live music, dancing as well as drinks in exchange for the guests’ fee.

Langston Hughes, the poet, had a collection of the rent party cards which he had taken into possession between 1925 and 1960. His collection started because of his fascination with the rhyming lines on the card used as advertisements for the parties. There is one party card that says, leave your troubles, wear your smile. Join this happy bunch for a while! Later in life, he decided to embed some of the language in his work of Simple stories.

The colourful cards are currently part of an exhibition conducted by the Beinecke Rare Book & Manuscript Library at the Yale University. The exhibit filled the entire building and is called “Gather Out of Star-Dust: The Harlem Renaissance & The Beinecke Library”. The communications director of Beinecke, Michael Morand revealed that these rent party cards collected by Langston Hughes himself is part of the current exhibit and it is where many people are stopping and majority are taking photos to be shared on social media platforms.

The label of the cards shows no indication that they are rent parties as some of the titles include “A Social Dance” or “A Cocktail Sip”. The print on the card includes the apartment number together with the names of the hosts and the inclusions in the parts such as refreshments and music. Though none of these witty rent cards are used in today’s party, there are many other additions to today’s party that can be easily acquired from party hire in Sydney.