January 21, 2005

Friendless losers have a new option for lonely weekends

Never underestimate the power of a novel idea. What transpired between two college students riding on the bus last weekend did not seem to them curiously exceptional at the time, but has led to the making of what some consider a direly needed campus service: a party listserve.

Dudley House residents Emi Gennis, a first-year in the College, and Ben Rogers, a third-year English concentrator, were playing around with what began as "just an idle thought," when they realized that it could actually be accomplished. Gone would be the days of collective party oblivion and, in the confines of the bus, they unearthed the idea of an e-mail list as a cure for Saturday nights stuck in the house lounge. Their motto reads: "We tell people where the party's at."

It seems at first that this motto echoes the main idea behind the parties listhost, but Gennis clarified that her ultimate goal is not to increase turnout at parties.

Rather, she hopes that by making party information more accessible people will be inspired throw parties of their own. "Let's face it," she said. "The party scene here could use a little rejuvenation."

The listhost recruited 50 people during the first two days of its existence. It is rapidly growing, its founders reported, with an average of five new members per day.

However thankful the current and future members of the listhost may be for this fresh innovation in campus social life, there are nonetheless some who view the matter differently.

One concern is the non-selective character of the listhost. Raphael Satter, a fourth-year in the College, regularly hosts smashingly large parties. He acknowledged the "excellent idea" behind the listhost, saying that "anything at all that could act as a spur for people to throw their own parties has my vote."

But he said he would "have reservations about posting, in part because it seems a little impersonal, but also because it might attract the wrong kind of attention."

And, he noted, "We pride ourselves on our good relationship with the police."

Satter and about a dozen of his "partners-in-crime" reach several hundred students through their own listhost. He said that although the crowds vary, there is a core of regulars, and that "on a good night, we get upwards of 300 people over the course of the party, which I think is probably on the high end of the scale for apartment parties thrown around campus."

One certain point of agreement between Satter and the two organizers of the new listhost is feedback. Satter said that what he would really like to see in a listhost is "someone who would review big parties while being coy about the time and location of upcoming ones, so that people who are really interested have to put a little effort into finding it."

Although the latter point is clearly not central to the parties listhost, Ben's "Welcome to Parties" e-mail encourages members to share their party experiences.