I recently read this wonderful post by a Twitter friend Miss Believer (or Tamsin as some people call her) and it put me in mind of the myth she refers to about parties and partying. Being the approach to Christmas and ‘Party Season’ I felt an exercise in a control group setting was required. Now contrary to the post’s title I am not going to try to ruin people’s fun but there is an awful lot of chinese whispers going on about ‘partying’. Now I do love a good party but specifically I enjoy two types: either a small gathering of close friends (some people refer to this as a dinner party, I dislike the term normally because it rarely involves dinner) or an out-and-out debauched, over populated, fall-of-rome-style soiree of noise and laughter. Most ‘parties’ however fall somewhere in between, either a ‘Dinner Party’ that has spilled over and is normally not prepared for or an epic, Warhol’s Factory prepared event that didn’t quite live up to the hype and is a little disappointing.
Before we go any further, in the interests of transparency I should point out I do not drink, smoke or take drugs and therefore am not invited to a lot of parties and ones I try to hold are poorly attended as most people are skeptical of the level of enjoyment one can have with a teetotaler and this is what I wish to talk about.
Let us define terms. The dictionary says this about parties:
party 1 |ˈpɑːti|
noun ( pl. -ties)
1 a social gathering of invited guests, typically involving eating, drinking, and entertainment : an engagement party.
So let us use this as the basis of what a party is, not just having a couple of mates round after the pub or for a curry, etc.
I have attended many parties and enjoyed most of them, I am even lucky enough to have attended some of the now ‘legendary’ parties bandied around in conversation by friends, I have even hosted one. Now as a sober person for these things, my perceptions of these events tends to be a little less hazy than others. This can obviously be to the detriment of enjoyment as I rarely ‘cut-loose’ at such a do but I do very much have fun at these events…
The good ones are few and far between. FACT. Not only that, it is the ones where not a lot happens but that have one specific happening that engender the creation of Apocrypha. Pour Example: “Dude, do you remember when [guest name] jumped in the sea fully clothed at 4am?” or “Dude, [guest name] disappeared, turns out he was so wasted he crawled under the decking” or even “It was crazy, [guest name] threw up all over the wall”. All examples are verbatim at parties I have attended. The rest of the evening was enjoyable but not excessive or truly wild but said happenings at individual parties create a sense of wonder and history that the event does not deserve. Being sober for these I remember quite clearly being thoroughly annoyed at said guest disappearing at 4am to go and jump in the sea and having to wait up to let him in as he disrobed his salty clothes through my house at 5am. Everyone else was asleep long before this and subsequently neither saw nor remembered it but it did happen so it will now forever be *that* party. And this happens far too much. Subsequently any small ‘happening’ must now bolster an entire evening’s entertainment and every other one must live up to this fiction.
I suppose it was ever thus but as my friend Tamsin pointed out if we’re not doing this EVERY MINUTE OF EVERY DAY we are clearly not enjoying life to the full. The Victorian ideal of the louche, rakish writer/musician/renaissance man is something I have always wanted to be but is entirely inconsistent with my character but were I to read modern men’s mags (I don’t) or listen to the stories of friends at the pub (I don’t) I would feel very empty that I am not attending these amazing debauched evenings of excess. Fact is these sex, drugs and rock and roll parties are incredibly rare and normally not as fun as they are made out to be.
My point, as with Tamsin’s, is that don’t feel bad, no one else is indulging in this kind of surfeit of revelry. We all sit in our pyjamas and watch cartoons, play xbox, watch crap films and read books most evenings and if you really are PARTYING (it is NOT a verb) every night you are a freak and can’t actually enjoy all of them and to be honest cannot really be a well-rounded individual and are missing out on incredible amount of life and culture. The odd party every so often is more gratefully received and more enjoyable than going wild and getting lashed every night.
My favourite parties, if you are interested, were these:
- Any at my childhood home of Nelson Road. Big house, normally a lot of people, well organised, never any trouble (when Lou and Miles were organising anyway) and Mum and Dad knew how to entertain at these dos.
- Elliot’s house parties in Canterbury. Like the ones in the Skins adverts (that don’t really happen anywhere near that frequently, no matter what anyone tells you). Live band in the living room, waaaaaay to many people in every room. Loud, dark, rapturous and fun. Spilled onto the street. Always a good sign.
- Josh and Vic’s wedding. There were mitigating circumstances that inhibited me from taking full advantage of the fun to be had at such a great day but nevertheless it was a great shindig.
- Phillipa’s moustache and ‘wife beater’ (it’s a type of vest) party. Just a good laugh.
- My 19th at No.5, my first flat. An unexpected hit. Well attended, went on all day, a good time was had by all.
They’re the ones that immediately leap to mind, I’m sure there are others. None of them have BIG things that happened, like someone falling out a window or whatever they were just really good, happy, fun gatherings. I think the best ones happen by accident or unexpectedly, the same with anything in life really. Expectations ruin things, surprise infinitely improves them.
What are your favourite parties and why?