Self-described promoter and socialite Yodit Gebreyes, a Georgetown University grad student, spoke about nightlife in the District, running one of the biggest promotion firms in town and why she wants more women to become architects of the D.C. party scene.
How did you get your start in D.C. nightlife? I started out as an undergraduate at George Mason being extremely involved in student life. I was very social and I loved informing people of different events happening on campus. Many of D.C.’s top promoters at the time frequented our campus and got to know me. A few of them invited me to promote for them if I could bring a lot of people out and they paid me, of course. Being a promoter was a great opportunity for a college student and I’ve loved it ever since.
The urban nightlife scene has changed in the last decade since nightclub leaders Marc Barnes and Taz Wube were running things. Has it changed for the better? I think it’s definitely changing, perhaps not as fast as we’d like it to, but it is. In those days, D.C. concentrated on two things: big clubs and specified nights. It’s not like that anymore. People don’t like major crowds, mass marketing and nights that exclude groups anymore.
How does D.C. differ from other nightlife scenes like Miami and New York? It’s very different in that D.C. is way more reserved than most cities and actually becoming slowly but surely more diversified.
Many people say there’s two D.C.s when it comes to partying. Why do you think that is? I think it has a lot to do with how the party is promoted, the DJ you use -- everything matters. If you don’t promote to a diversified crowd, you won’t get one. I think nightlife here can change if we just all make more effort.
How do you personally hope to change nightlife for the better? I hope to actually encourage more women to be involved. There are only a few top women promoters in D.C. It’s quite sad actually.
Do you get treated differently when you approach venues to host parties? Of course, especially in the beginning when club owners or managers didn’t know me. Since I am a woman, they’d look at me and say, “You want to throw a party?” while looking at me strangely. They'd assume that I was there to be a hostess or serve cocktails. You have to be very strong-willed in this industry and always keep it professional.
You’re the co-owner and founder of one of the biggest promotional groups in D.C. as well as a full time graduate student. How do you balance it all? Over the years, I’ve learned to say no. I can’t be at every party, every event and running every single show. When you learn how to be a team player as well as a leader everything else falls into place.