Parties are supposed to be fun, right?
So why these days does getting a party invitation feel like a drag? Before we even know where to RSVP we’ve thought of our excuse, having checked that we haven’t used it recently or that it hasn’t been a family member’s “birthday“ already this year!
By this point, you’re probably thinking I’m saying this because I’m old, bitter and just don’t know how to have a good time. I’m past it. A has-been.
It’s true that I could blame the decline of parties on millennials. After all, they are changing the workplace, the way we shop and the way we get married, so why wouldn’t they change the way we party, too?
But I’m not trying to pin it all on the younger generation. That would be absurd. And it’s not just because I’m getting older, either. It’s indicative of our times that going to a party is simply not fun any longer.
A big problem with modern parties is that we’re not really there – no one is focusing on the party but spending more time portraying an image of being in a party. We’re not really having a good time. We’re creating an illusion on social media.
So you’re not really attending a party but a social media gathering. All you see are people taking photos, creating hashtags, exchanging Twitter handles and snapchatting with those that aren’t even there.
For those who are not fans of social gatherings, modern parties are getting worse. You’re not just meeting a group of people celebrating together; you’re going to find yourself in front of the whole world. Your phone alerting you to tags, friend requests and mentions.
The next day, the party was rubbish, but your mate got 249 likes for a post, so it must have been a good night, right?
Perhaps because everything is going to end up on Instagram, the hosts are expecting you to make an effort with your appearance. It’s not necessarily all Louis Vuitton stuff, but you had better not have something you wore last summer at Lizzie’s birthday party. Someone’s hashtagged that so you will be found out!
In fact, modern parties have strict dress codes. Your host is going to spend hundreds on decorating the room. You have to match the accent colours to ensure better photos.
And that’s just another problem with the modern party. Organising a party costs a lot of money! The average wedding in the UK now costs £27,161, while away from weddings people are spending thousands on parties whatever the reason. We’re not just talking flush celebrities paying to hire out an entire West London nightclub, either!
We’re talking about ice sculptures at children’s garden parties. Chocolate fountains at house warming parties. Crystal champagne glasses at leaving dos. Leaving dos!
What happened to balloons and flowers?
Is it really necessary for a room to look like page 427 of the host’s favourite catalogue?
Perhaps it all boils down to the fact that going to a party seems so complicated.
Not only are you going to have to worry about social media, but you also have to worry about the fancy décor. You don’t want to end up on Instagram right as you break the ice sculpture in half or be responsible for chocolate hitting the white carpet or cream coloured floral wallpaper.
And there’s nothing to comfort you.
In the past, you could always rely on booze, cold garlic bread, and pigs in blankets to save you. Now when you walk to the buffet table you’re faced with things that are organic, locally sourced, ethnic, unique, free of dairy, gluten, sugar. They even come with fancy names that tell you nothing about what you are eating. If people have dietary needs, fine, but you’re not telling me half of that stuff isn’t just there and chosen for the sake of it.
When we party, we’re there to party, not to explore all the world’s cuisine, sample the latest hipster treat, or try whatever this week’s Insta-famous wellness guru has claimed they eat daily for their knockout figure.
If you manage to deal with the social media, you navigate your way around the expensive décor and you are able to fill your stomach with something edible, you still have to face the fact that modern parties lack entertainment value.
They are often fake and distanced from reality and the present.
For one, everyone thinks they are a DJ these days. People just plug in their laptops and stream songs on YouTube or Spotify – Elijah Wood famously did a set with two iPods in the Noughties. But most of us are not Elijah Wood. And it is most certainly not the Noughties.
We want real music – something that’s entertaining and engaging.
Having a proper band perform at a party adds to the mood. You can dance, you can watch the show and you can interact with real people. When everything is so digital, can’t we at least stick to having real music?
But is it me, and not the party?
Perhaps it’s not the party at fault. Maybe it’s me, or us as a society and our expectations.
Maybe times generally a bit sad? We’re bombarded with Brexit and Trump’s tweets. The summer weather lasts for just a week regardless of what the Daily Express or Daily Mail tells us about the upcoming killer heatwave, and England will inevitably get knocked out of World Cup on penalties sooner rather than later.
And so we think parties must be something extraordinary and out of this world. We polish and add filters. We want an experience that gets us talking for weeks – to give us respite from Westworld plot lines and nuclear threats.
We’ve forgotten how to relax and unwind.
And that’s what a party is supposed to be. Something fun and simple – a way to hang out with people, to dance to songs that sound like real life, and to laugh so hard your abs feel it in the morning.
Let’s get back to basics!