Party time

Planning an enjoyable party at the U of C is a complex, almost quixotic process

By Peter Slezkine

A party has been scheduled for Friday, May 13, in a three-story, four-bedroom, five-person row-house at 5440 South Ingleside Avenue. There will be a sign out front instructing guests to “go around back”; there will be a bunch of booze in the basement and “BMF” blaring from a base amp; there will be stacks of red cups and a dimly lit lamp.

Several days ago, my roommates and I decided that it was time to host a party. We had spent the previous Friday, the one before that, and the Saturday in between bouncing from one Woodlawn apartment to the next, never quite sure whose guests we were. At each stop, I would end up stuck in line for the bathroom, trapped by traffic moving from the living room to the kitchen to the balcony and back.

Having a party at our place should solve some of these problems. At least it would spare us the embarrassment of looking lost at the locked door of what seems to be the correct address, faced with an unresponsive buzzer and unreliable text message directions. It would also eliminate the wobbly walk home at the end of the night.

A proper Hyde Park party needs an occasion. Unfortunately, none of us has a birthday coming up, we haven’t recently lost an SG election, and our address isn’t written in Greek. We could always associate ourselves with a cause ($5 for the environment, a stamp, and some beer) or come up with a theme (wear a bikini and call it a costume), but it might be safest to stick to a simple celebration of spring (birds sing, flowers bloom, beer is king, and the bass will boom—or something to that effect).

In any case, we’ll need to create a Facebook event. The description should be written in ironic ebonics, the start time should be unrealistically early, and at least a quarter of the invitations should go out to “friends” who have long since left Chicago. But the guest list is merely cosmetic, of course. The Facebook event will undoubtedly be public. The less we know you, the more excited we are for you to come.

With our prospective attendance accurately estimated to the nearest 50, we’ll have to head over to Kimbark to purchase supplies. First-year Econ suggests that big plastic bottles are best, but the exact number to be bought and the perfect ratio of lights to darks is an argument that four years at the U of C has yet to resolve. Beer is also a problem. College students develop peculiarly strong opinions concerning the relative merits of the bargain light beer they buy in bulk. At least we know that the keg will be heavy.

Getting the juices, sodas, and snacks right at CVS is, if anything, an even more daunting task. The purpose is to make the act of drinking pleasant. But for an undergrad party held underground, the above proposition is dangerously close to being a contradiction in terms. This doesn’t mean that we’ll stop trying though. Lost causes inspire the greatest passions, and in the quest for a palate-pleasing party, crackers vs. cupcakes is bound to spark a heated debate.

Preparing a playlist poses its own set of problems. We’ll have to determine the perfect proportion of hipster to gangster and sing-alongs to dance-tos, while striving to maintain a Summer Breeze—like balance between the completely unknown and the relatively obscure. What is clear is that a well-thought-out playlist is absolutely tied to a party’s success—until someone walks toward the sound system with an iPhone in hand.

Finally, we’ll have to set up the house. This involves blocking doors and mopping floors, hiding toothbrushes and towels, and doing all sorts of other chores. But all of this preparation and hard work will be worth the trouble, because we do, after all, represent a cause. We are dedicated to resurrecting fun on campus. Although I have just been told that, in a display of disdainful disregard for the College’s carefully crafted image, a dozen other parties will be held this Friday. So chances are you’ll never appreciate our noble fight. You’ll be off having a good time elsewhere.

Peter Slezkine is a fourth-year in the College majoring in history.