Party: a gathering of people who have been invited by a host for the purposes of socializing, conversation, recreation or as part of a festival or other commemoration of a special occasion. A party will typically feature food and beverages, and often music and dancing or other forms of entertainment.
When we think of a party the image that popular culture throws up is sweaty underdressed young people writhing to insanely loud music and a dangerous undercurrent of drugs, drinks, unprotected and sometimes unwanted sexual activity. (Check out ‘Safe’ on Netflix. Within hours of the parents leaving the house, teenage girl has not only thrown a wild party but is also dealing drugs. Sigh. Whatever happened to reading books for fun?)
Surely this is not something Sister Alicia Donohue would have imagined in her wildest dreams when she invented the disco party!
In The Pirate’s Dilemma, Matt Mason tells us that in 1944 Sister Alicia was working in St. John’s Home and interfaith home for orphans and troubled children from birth till age 6. The world was at war. The children she dealt with were an equally unruly mob, violent and almost feral. She thought back to her happy childhood and how her pianist parents used to create music and peace. She created what she called a ‘party room’ and filled it with balloons, decorations, a fridge and a record player.
In 1949 David Mancuso left as a five year old to be reunited with his mother. In 1965 he moved into a disused loft on Broadway, and finally in order to earn money he threw the first rent party in 1970 where he played music, offered food and drinks and for some reason felt like filling up the entire space with balloons. One day an old fried Eddie who had been at St John’s came by and was stunned to realize that David had re-created Sister Alicia’s party room.
The reason why this story is also important is that not only is The Loft legendary for the entire party culture but in his quest for perfect music for the parties David is also apparently the inventor of pioneering sound systems such as sub- woofers and tweeter rigs. Disco emerged from the mixture of music and the concept of shared enjoyment which was part of the rising psychedelic flower power zone.
Way to go Sister!
Of course the dance party is only one kind of party.
We go from birthday parties as kids where the girls wear frilly pink dresses (the haunting description of the birthday girl in God of Small Things), boys make wishes (Liar Liar), then they blow the candle (spraying the entire cake with microscopic saliva droplets. (Ugh. Yes, I am a doctor haha).
There are theme parties where everyone dresses up as Egyptians, or zombies or Tarts and Vicars (only the British would do this and it’s in the Bridget Jones movie).
Celebration parties, funeral wake which is a kind of party by the above definition (Death at a Funeral is the best one to date), wedding party (Four Weddings and a Funeral), break up party (Love Aaj Kal), baby shower (Didi tera dewar dewana).
Naming ceremony party, stag night/ hen night, both of which are apparently fuelled mainly by the desire to get all sexual fantasies out if the way before I Do. (Ya right. See the stag night game in Sherlock and the Hangover movies), farewell parties, welcome parties, after- party parties, pre-party parties and every single party in Love Actually which have deadly and tragic undercurrents.
There is of course the best of them all –the Tea party with the Mad Hatter and Alice. ( not to be confused with the Boston Tea Party which is in your history books)
There is the beach party, the surprise party, routine dinner party, pot luck party (Orphan Black, Alison’s house), garden party, street party, cocktail party, sleepover (which involves more pajamas), card parties during Diwali, board game parties, (my favourite kind which could involve What’s your like, monopoly and quizzes. Lots of quizzes.).
Those whose lives make headlines and cover pages also have debutant parties As this article says “Most explicitly, it is an elegant way of presenting a fresh crop of wealthy and pedigree genetics up for harvest (read marriage)”.
A friend even throws Oscar parties at her California residence although she is not a professional actress (but she is a drama queen 🙂 )
Of course not all parties are fun.
This one is for my sister 🙂
But the creepiest party I have heard of are those where young girls pledge their virginity to their fathers. Did no one see the irony in naming this a Purity Ball haha ?!
And of course since this blog was created to share things from my life J here are photos of a Harry Potter theme party for my daughter.
We have all waited for our letter from Hogwarts but as Toni Morrison said if there is book you really want to read hasn’t been written yet, then you must write it.
So we wrote our own invitations and had ourselves a party! We are like this only 🙂