For a college student, there’s no avoiding house parties. Even if you’re the teetotalling intellectual type who prefers to spend her weekends buried in books at the library, you’re bound to have a close friend of yours–the adventurous chaotic yang to your yin–convince you to break your social bubble and let loose for a night.
Some pretty common reasons for attending house parties include:
“I want to get wasted!”
“It’s Friday night, so I have to party.”
“All of my friends are going.”
“This cute boy Jared will be there.”
“I haven’t seen Helga in forever!”
“I just want to dance.”
I see this at parties all the time: people who have only a vague idea of why they’re going, but no real plan for what will happen when they get there, and no conscious thought as to what they want to get out of going.
While celebrating public holidays, seeing your friends, and altering your consciousness on occasion is essential to a balanced lifestyle, the cannabis connoisseur in you will always be a little dissatisfied after attending a party with this shallow attitude. You need to set yourself up for a really good time.
That’s why I’ve written this simple guide to house parties. I want to explain to you that you will get a lot more out of going to a party if you keep these very simple concepts in mind before you go.
Intention/planning: Why do you want to go, and what do you want to get out of going?
This is the first step to having a good time at a party. Figure out the reason you have for going. To undertake any activity, it goes without saying that you should want to be a better human being after the activity than you were before it. So ask yourself, how can you improve yourself and your relations with others by attending this party?
Maybe you have a friend going that you haven’t seen in a while. Be honest with yourself: would you like to get closer to this person, or would you like to alter your relationship with them in any way? If you do, plan some activities that the two (or more) of you can do together that will initiate this process. Something as simple as a good conversation can get you there. A good conversation starts with some options for dialogue. “Hey, how was your summer?” is boring and invasive. It forces the other person to remember a bunch of things and then list them off. If you’re lucky and they’re the type of person who really likes to talk about themselves for minutes on end then this might be good enough. But chances are you want to be more subtle and humane when talking to them.
Instead, try bringing up something very specific: the most meaningful encounter you’ve ever had with that person. One time I was at a party and stopped a random girl in the hallway and told her she reminded me of “water evaporating from a stone in a summer afternoon.” I don’t know why I said this–I was quite drunk–but she remembered it as genuine, and the next time she saw me, she reminded me, and then we started talking about all sorts of deeper topics, like poetry and philosophy. Then we started a running gag, sneaking all over the house pretending to be cartoonish burglars.
Also under this category is props. Planning for a party can be as simple as bringing a show and tell item.Bring your favorite rock from your rock collection or wear some all of your thrift store rings at once. Bring out any object that can be the topic of conversation. That way, you will have the opportunity to talk with people who don’t like to talk about themselves. And you can also avoid talking about something touchy and boring like politics or the news.
Also on a more responsibility-oriented note, you’re going to want to plan in advance how much you’re going to want to smoke and/or drink. Smoking too much cannabis can make social situations difficult, so make sure you’re doing an amount you feel comfortable with around people you trust. The same goes for alcohol and other drugs. You will be offered alcohol you didn’t account for, and you will be pressured into drinking it: mark my words. A good rule of thumb for drinking is to bring as much as you want to drink for yourself, and then whenever anyone offers you some of their alcohol, offer some of yours to someone else. This way, everyone gets to feel the generosity and love, and you don’t have to barf up your penance to the porcelain toilet deity.
Improvisation/timing: What skills and stunts do you have at your disposal, and when are you going to use them?
Regardless of how well you plan, you’re destined to run into situations–especially at a party–that you never saw coming and call for spontaneous improvisation. So the only way to account for this is to accept that you’re entering unknown territory. But there are a few commonalities to all random encounters that you can prepare yourself for.
The first call for improvisation is the quest.
Every party presents you with a quest, whether it be getting a too-drunk friend home or finding a lost hat. One time, some stranger–a tough looking bully-like character–had picked up my baseball cap from the couch I was sitting on and put it on his head and walked away, down into the house’s basement. I was in the middle of conversation and the crowd was thick, so I couldn’t just chase him down. So I made it my quest to get the cap back before I went home for the night. So I went about my night for a little while, and then, as the night was wearing to an end, I sat under a poster of the Door’s Jim Morrison, brainstorming a way to get the cap back from this tough-guy without embarrassingly confronting him and asking for it directly. Of course, I’m sure he would have been kind enough to give it to me, but I wanted to have fun where the opportunity presented itself.
So while I was sitting there, I looked up and saw this Harry Potter wizard hat. I put it on my head and then went around looking for this guy. I wandered through the labyrinthine basement, finally finding him in a pink room at the very back of the house. He looked at me as I entered the door, I walked over to him non-threateningly, gently reached out and plucked my baseball cap from of his head, replaced it with the wizard-hat and shouted, “Gryffindor!” Then I ran out of the room victorious while the people in the room were laughing and slightly confused. A pretty stupid story, but this is just an example of how you can have fun with the unexpected by improvisation.
The final piece of advice I’d like to leave you all with is the most important of all: be aware of your timing. There will be multiple occasions during the night–when to end a conversation, when to kiss someone, when to start/stop dancing, when to go home–when you’re going to have to rely on your intution to guide you from one encounter to the next.
Keep an open eye and ear for when a conversation has reached its climax–usually when everyone starts laughing or one person caps off a particularly insightful rhetorical flourish–and make your exit. Say “wow, I really liked this conversation. Let’s talk again later.” And then vanish.
Similarly with kissing and other forms of physical intimacy. If you notice that your partner is escalating and you’re receptive, or the other way around, don’t slow things down or speed things up. Mother nature has been guiding our sexuality for millions of years, and there’s no way you are going to be able to improve on her method by resisting or pushing a natural process that relies entirely on instinct and intuition. So let your feelings guide you and only get involved with people who are operating on a similar tempo and frequency as you are. Don’t be afraid to match a person if you like them, but also don’t force anything if the timing isn’t right.
If you find that your consciousness is moving into your body, you know it’s a good time to get away from a conversation and onto the dancefloor. Dance away whatever stored-up movement you have in your system, and notice when you get sick of it. After you’ve danced, it might be a good time to smoke a joint and chill out on the couch or go home.
And this brings me to my final point (another one on responsibility) about timing: know when you’re tired and want to go home. Some parties go all night, and there are certain to be artificial stimulants around that are keeping many people up. So once your energy starts tanking, don’t worry about trying to keep the night going for eternity. There will always be more parties. Take the time to reflect for a second on whether you have something to look forward to or whether you’re clinging to an experience that’s already passed. If it’s the latter, then it’s time to call it a night, and hopefully a really good one. Go smoke a joint with your best buddies at this point and give them each a compliment and a hug and then go home to bed, or just crash on the couch.
Thanks for reading. I hope that you benefit from something you’ve read here during the next party you attend. Remember, plan ahead, be spontaneous, and keep your wits about you!