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Saturday, Aug 17, 2019

Where’s the party tonight?

From the dull to the decadent, every party has a unique personality

brunch Updated: Dec 16, 2018 00:17 IST
Rehana Munir
Rehana Munir
Hindustan Times
Theme parties are fertile grounds to conduct social experiments in
Theme parties are fertile grounds to conduct social experiments in(Photo illustration: Parth Garg)

There’s this meme doing the rounds: “When I was younger, I escaped home to attend parties. Now I escape parties to go home.” I, for one, quite like parties. That end by about ten. I sympathise with Wendy Cope when she writes in her poem Being Boring:

I don’t go to parties. Well, what are they for,
If you don’t need to find a new lover?
You drink and you listen and drink a bit more
And you take the next day to recover.

But it’s fun to attend one every now and then to see if I’ve gotten any cooler. Here are a few varieties that I’ve catalogued between excellent canapés and insipid conversation.

The non-starter

There’s always a board game involved. A great deal of time is spent trying to determine what should be played and by which rules. The actual game is invariably dull. Or what’s even duller than dull - argumentative. The hosts have arranged things to perfection, from the inventive starters to the familiar guest list to on-point TV shows. It’s just that everyone’s too tired, bored, or uninterested in one another to say or do anything exciting. It’s always polite and never entertaining. The party that’s all dressed up with nowhere to go.

The all-nighter

Neighbour’s nuisance, owner’s pride.The evening begins with Def Leppard’s Hysteria and somewhere along the line puts on its Kala Chashma. The party where everyone’s so smashed, no one knows who the host is. This kind of party is prone to the occasional mishap, from singed hair to impromptu cook-offs (no, you can’t scramble eggs without breaking the shell). Where your most embarrassing picture from the college prom 20 years ago is used in a game of Tail the Donkey. Where the last stragglers leave by the light of day. And some snore away till the afternoon, waking up confused and apologetic, saying, “I’m getting too old for this,” with an air of concealed pride.

The arty party

Lots of smoke. Someone playing didgeridoo or harp. Organic breadsticks not made of bread. Artisanal lactose-free cheese. Music that’s Middle Earth meets Sufi meets post-punk. Licentious talk between lovers. Libellous talk among haters. Substances being passed around that are deemed to be purer than Alpine air. A bottle of sublime wine is cracked open triggering a free-associative conversation on sublime wines. A caterer whose name isn’t divulged. Dessert in which you won’t find any trace of sugar; it’s too infradig. The evening ends with the licentious lovers leaving separately, with other partners.

The theme party

This one captures all the goofiness of childhood with none of its redeeming innocence. From ’60s-themed celebrations flaunting purple wigs and polka dot skirts to Vikram and Betal kitsch fests, these take tons of effort to imagine and execute. And attend. I once showed up for a ’70s-themed party in a sari, saying I was an Indian woman in the ’70s. Nobody bought it. Another time I wore a burqa to a dress-up party, and told strangers I didn’t have time to get into costume. The reactions were priceless; people didn’t know how to speak to me. I’ve never felt more stared at in my life, which is ironic for the modest garb. Conclusion: Theme parties are fertile grounds to conduct social experiments in.

The surprise party

This one happens before it happens: on the WhatsApp group where all but the suprisee are added. There’s endless talk around location, food and entertainment, making it a party more democratic than the one America tragically voted out. Cold wars erupt when messages are ignored, and sub-groups are formed. The WhatsApp group about the original WhatsApp group is where all the action shifts. Typically, the surprisee has caught whiff of the plan days before D-Day, but she’s just playing along so no one gets disappointed. The actual party is an anticlimax, where revelations are made to the effect of: “I knew because Appu left her chat screen open and her phone rang ...” The only surprise party I’ve been thrown marked my 16th birthday. I had my first sip of champagne; it was the sweet taste of glory. A real success, I’ll admit.

From HT Brunch, December 16, 2018

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First Published: Dec 15, 2018 21:09 IST

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