September 14, 2006

Grow your Own Discotheque: Just Add Water

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The clock is creeping towards 4 AM on Sunday morning, and despite the fact that I’ve replaced my hot pants and boots with pajamas and mismatched socks, I think the party – specifically my party – is still going on. At least, the last time I traipsed downstairs for a much-needed glass of ice-water, there were people making out against the kitchen sink. So now, as I sit with my laptop amidst a score of empty beer cans, sipping my water in an attempt to fight what will undoubtedly be a hangover-filled morrow, I feel the most able to lay out a few of the more vital do’s and don’ts of throwing a successful dance party.
Don’t expect the dance floor to materialize by itself. It’s crucial to select a specific area for your guests to grind against each other in comfort. Spend time considering the flow of traffic, placement of alcohol (and subsequent crowding around said area), smokers’ havens, and the inevitable game of Kings that your more timid houseguests will resign themselves to.
Do craft several hours of music into the perfect party playlist. Begin with a quieter selection that still manages to foreshadow the dancing to come (ex: Nancy Sinatra’s “These Boots Were Made For Walking”). Dominating this low-key mix with fun, recognizable songs will cause people to gather in your designated dance area (see above), leaving them helpless to your ploy. After about an hour, introduce a song that guests can’t help but dance to. I’ve found that novelty‘80’s hits like Soft Cell’s “Tainted Love” or Depeche Mode’s “Just Can’t Get Enough” tend to get people moving; even if they think they’re just being ironic, you’ve drawn them into a tangled web from which there is no escape save the occasional, much-needed bathroom break.
Along these same lines, do learn to recognize that one houseguest who has come to your party with the sole intention of getting his grubby little hands on your iPod and messing with your playlist. Once you’ve spotted him, lure the bastard to the opposite side of the room and keep him well lubricated.
Don’t make the mistake we made and put a mirror near the dance floor. Your living room is not a nightclub, and propping a full-length dorm mirror from Target against the wall does not in any way allow you to indiscreetly check yourself out. Also, shards of glass are really difficult to clean up when you’re drunk.
Do keep a bevy of paper towels at hand – or, better yet, invest in a Swiffer. Dancing (specifically, flailing one’s limbs) leads to the spillage of alcohol, which collects to form an ever-expanding puddle in the center of the dance floor. Furthermore, fall weather tends to bring out boots, and, as I witnessed tonight, boots are no match for wet hardwood.
Do invest in proper ventilation; not all college kids take deodorant as seriously as they ought. Box fans will usually do the trick.
Don’t commit yourself to one dance partner. Half the fun of these parties is in the variety of people that show up, each of whom at some point had the courage to surpass the insecurity of their high school years. Grind against two, three, or four people at once; slink up to a member of the same sex and prove that you’re open-minded. Or, better yet, grab the first freshman you see and save them a year’s worth of needless self-restraint.
Of course, these events are not meant to be dictated by strict rules; the best and most memorable parties are rife with spontaneity and surprise, like discovering a pair of men’s brief’s in the cutlery drawer, or constructing a new fall wardrobe entirely out of discarded tweed blazers. However, as with the conclusion of any good dance party, I end this column by not worrying too much and gracelessly passing out drunk.