I never liked house parties in college. The music was so loud you couldn’t hear anyone, too many people were usually stuffed into a room or small apartment, and it was always pitch black because hookups were the ultimate goal. Not to mention, there was always a fight that ruined the night.
But every now and then, it’s nice to escape the pressure of popular Queen City nightlife. You know, the high heels, tons of makeup, crowded bars and, of course, an entry fee. So I decided to give the classic house party the old college try.
House parties are usually characterized by three phases: the awkward entry, drunken conversation and the clumsy exit. Allow me to elaborate.
Last weekend, a co-worker invited a large group of us to his house located out toward the airport. Not drinking wasn’t an option, so this meant either catching a ride there or having to catch a ride back to get my car the next day. I was either going to be stuck there until someone was ready to go or grab an Uber, which would be kind of pricey, considering my normal travel time is only about eight minutes.
I pulled up to the party two hours late due to some miscommunication. The line of parked cars stretched down a side street in the residential neighborhood, so I had to make a small trek to the house.
“It’s fine,” I told myself, a little annoyed, as I walked to the back of the house. At least I wasn’t wearing heels.
Here is where I experienced phase one: the awkward arrival. Everyone is super nice, but you can’t remember anyone’s name as soon as you spit out your own. You’re meeting significant others and trying to figure out who’s going to be your partner in crime for the night because everyone needs a safety net. My tardiness made me forget to bring a case of beer, so I showed up empty-handed, a major no-no in good time etiquette, in my opinion.
They were just firing up the grill, and after being “convinced” to grab a beer inside, I went on a quick tour. The house was sick! My co-worker and his three roommates had a basketball court, tennis court and a swing set. The home itself was two floors, with a walkout basement, bar, and, like, six bedrooms. The fact that everyone there was 24 or older had already solidified that this was going to be nothing like a college house party. About 20 to 25 people were packed in, with plenty of room to spare.
After about an hour there, I realized I was already buzzed. Four beers deep, it was way too easy to walk up to the fridge and grab a drink versus waiting in line for 10 minutes to get served by a bartender.
This is how you know you’ve hit phase two: Chatty Kathy is in full force. Everyone has an inside joke and has seemingly known each other for years. In this phase, you don’t meet a stranger. I spent the majority of my night talking with the roommates about my plans for the tribe we were going to start, which included the installation of a slip and slide, mud wrestling and me moving in. What they failed to realize was that I was being dead serious.
Soon after, the hot dogs and brats were passed around — a feeble attempt to regain control over the alcohol. Then the games began: college basketball on TV, ping pong, cornhole, darts and, of course, flip cup. To accompany the ultimate house party activities is a Ja Rule station on Pandora.
Eventually, phase three comes around: It’s time to exit stage left. Couples decide to leave, the drunkest are carted home and things get creepy for those who remain. (By this time, you may find that you’ve been strategically separated from the group, engaging in a one-on-one conversation with someone you would normally not go for.) During our college years, the potential for hookup is prime at this hour. But us responsible adults are more aware of wearing out our welcome. I caught a ride with a friend and passed out before the temptation to crash on the basketball court even became an option. Crisis averted.
The next time you’re looking for an alternative to clubs and bars in Charlotte, consider convincing a friend to host a house party. Don’t count out the neighborhoods that are further away from Uptown — that’s probably where you’ll have the most fun. Be mindful of those phases though. The last thing you want is to be that straggler who makes the same mistakes you made in college.