First House Party

By Robert Liu-Trujillo

Drawing of two brown children dancing with thought bubbles telling a story.

Illustration by Robert Liu-Trujillo
[ID: A brown boy with a flat top dancing with a brown girl. Boy is wearing a grey shirt and pants. Girl wearing blue tank top and tan colored pants. There are black thought bubbles with white writing.]


A Brown Man wearing a purple shirt with dreadlocks and glasses holding a sketchbook
Courtesy of Robert Liu-Trujillo
[ID: A Brown Man wearing a purple shirt with dreadlocks wearing black glasses and a purple & pink tie dyed shirt holds several spiral sketchbooks. He stands outside in front of trees bearing lemons and limes.]

I was 10 years old, a total nerd. And one of my best friends invited me to his house for a party. “A house party?” I thought. He said it like it was nothing. I was both excited and terrified. I’d never been to one before. What do I say? What do I wear? Will there be kids I know there?

I told mom, she pressed upon me the need to look my best.  What fly means to a kid and an adult are totally different though. I know she meant well. I got dressed up. Nice shirt, pants, dress shoes, and even cologne!! I went and not a single kid was dressed up. They all were wearing their school clothes, sneakers, sports gear, etc.

Dancing and music. I love hip hop and Rnb and they were playing good music. In fact we listened to MC Breed’s “Ain’t no future in your fronting” 10 times or more through the course of the night. Most of the kids were dancing, with the lights off. They kept stopping the music and turning on the lights to say “y’all better dance”. And I was. By myself.

This older (loud, pretty, confident) girl noticed and grabbed my hand saying, “you need to dance with somebody”! Before I could say anything she was pulling me to girls in the “garage” where it was held w/ a boombox for a sound system and asking girls ”you wanna dance with him?” OMG, how embarrassing!

Finally after multiple NO’s, a girl relented. She put my arms on my shoulders and I put my hands around her waist. Of course they didn’t replay Breed, they played a slow jam. Agggh, I awkwardly tried to dance “with” her. Her breath was not the best smelling I remember, but she was nice. I can’t remember her name but that was it. I survived my first Richmond California house party. 5th grade. 1990.

This article appeared in the Spring 2023 issue of In Dance.

Robert Liu-Trujillo is a lifelong Bay Area resident. Born in Oakland, he’s the child of student activists who watched lots of science fiction and took him to many demonstrations. Always drawing, Rob grew up to be an artist falling in love with graffiti, fine art, illustration, murals, and children’s books. In that order, sort of. Through storytelling he’s been able to scratch the surface of so many untold stories. Rob is the author and illustrator of Furqan’s First Flat Top and he’s illustrated numerous other children’s books. Rob is a co-founder of The Trust Your Struggle Collective, and a contributor to The Social Justice Children's Bk Holiday Fair.