Old School Hip Hop Party Themes

by David Ferris
The Sugar Hill Gang is frequently credited with putting out old school hip hop's first hit,

The Sugar Hill Gang is frequently credited with putting out old school hip hop's first hit, "Rapper's Delight."

Paul Hawthorne/Getty Images Entertainment/Getty Images

Since hip hop first came on the scene in the late 1970s, it's exploded into an international cultural phenomenon combing music, dance, fashion and its own definitive kind of swagger. As hip hop continues to evolve, the old school era of the late 1970s, 1980s and early 1990s remains musically and stylistically relevant. You can pay homage to rap's early years by throwing an old school hip hop party.

Emcee Battle

Hip hop was born out of emcee battles, a tradition that remains important to the music. In these competitions, two or more performers get on the microphone and rap over a beat in an effort to one-up the other and prove his lyrical prowess. Pay proper tribute to the old school era by using beats that some of the early emcees themselves once rapped over.

Music Swap

An old school hip hop party theme can emphasize the music over all other aspects. Each guest can play DJ for an hour or so. Have the guests bring their records, CDs and mixes with their favorite old school hip hop music. Compete to see who can be the best DJ, or simply enjoy dancing and listening to the music of the era. Fab 5 Freddy, Ice T, NWA and Run DMC are some of the more prolific old school performers. For an authentic old school touch, set up turntables and amplifiers the way they did it back in the day.

Costume Party

Image and ego are central to hip hop, where the performer is often a single emcee on the mic. Therefore, style has a corresponding value to hip hop. In the early era, hip hop helped distinguish itself as a genuine cultural movement by creating a unique new look to match the music. Flat top haircuts, high-top sneakers, big gold chains, Starter jackets make up the old school East Coast look; baggie Dickie jeans, plaid shirts and baseball caps were old school elements of style that came out of the West Coast scene. Have party attendees dress in these fashions or even dress up as a particular figure from the old school hip hop era.

Graffiti and Break Dancing

Other symbols and forms of expression associated with old school hip hop are graffiti and break dancing. You probably don't want your friends tagging the walls of your house, but you can hang thick paper along the walls and set up spray cans for guests to make their own graffiti in the style of the 1980s or early 1990s. Similarly, set up a space for b-boys (and girls) who want to show off their break dancing skills. If you want to take the break dancing theme further, you can even hire a dance instructor who will teach your guests some basic moves. Keep the '80s alive.

Photo Credits

  • Paul Hawthorne/Getty Images Entertainment/Getty Images