Party politics

25 Feb

Punks should look like this

I’m still recovering from a party. It’s taken me a week to feel vaguely normal, and I’ve only just managed to retrieve the last of the kirby grips from my big Essex hair (the dress code was TOWIE). I’ll think about washing it tomorrow, when I have the strength to hold the hairdryer for more than two minutes. As bashes go, this was great, hence my unwillingness to leave until 5.30am last Sunday morning, the very time that the baby wakes for the day. On my return, the children greeted me with the same sense of curiosity they display when visiting the zoo. My husband did what he does best: went to work. Weekends for him are no excuse for leisure time.

I like other people’s parties – you just turn up with a couple of bottles, talk to strangers and dance. I’m not so keen on my own. Perhaps this is due to the fact that every single party I’ve ever held has been mind-blowingingly rubbish. They’re the kind of events that I hope nobody remembers with anything more than a “Oh yes, I think that was Grace’s but I can’t be sure. It could have been depressed Emma’s, or perhaps Sarah the Christian’s. Can you remember? Yes, we had a few glasses of wine and left at midnight.” If that is as far as the memory takes them, then I’m happy. Luckily, I don’t think anyone has ever brought a camera to a gathering of mine, so I don’t even have to burn the evidence.

The last party I held was for my thirtieth. I should have gone with my gut instinct and done away with the idea all together, in favour of a weekend in Berlin. However, I’d agonised in the middle of a sleepless night that some may see me as a taker, always going to other people’s parties and never hosting my own. Then I batted that thought out of the window, by telling myself that I was always having people over for lunch or dinner. Cooking for people is something I enjoy; if my parents have people over they call it a ‘dinner party.’ Surely with the word party present, it’s an acceptable alternative to the big glittery, loud version.

And yet. Something just kept on niggling and waking me in my sleep and wouldn’t let the idea of a party die. I kept on hearing the word ‘bore’ in my head, and when I asked who the voice was talking to it answered “Why you, of course. Who else thinks that a tour of the Jewish Museum for their big 3 0 is enough of a celebration?”

Having an actual party, complete with Technics decks, some cheap mood lighting (candles), an open bar and hire of a large room was something I finally succumbed to. I chose a ’77 theme, the year I was born and when “God Save The Queen” came out. Punk felt like an inspired choice as a dress code, so I went with it, thinking, this is easy. What I failed to realise was that most men over the age of 30 would go to Topman and spunk money on ill-fitting jeans and a too-short t-shirt. The effect would be more overstuffed gourmet sausage in Lycra’ than Sid Vicious on smack. Topped off with home-made Mohicans the look was bordering on euro sex pest with a penchant for ’80s soft rock.

I made the common assumption that if I handed out about 30 invitations and mumbled under my breath “bring someone along if you like” that the actual turnout would quadruple and fill the large room above my local pub. I  preempted the disaster before it had even happened, and excused people who lived more than three miles away from coming by not asking them at all, because I didn’t want them to have to travel to what would only be a disappointing destination. Basically, I’m as good at throwing parties as I was at stripping. My favourite get out line was “Oh, me? No, you don’t want a dance from me. That girl over there is Brazilian and her moves are far more fluid than mine. Feel free to come back though if she disappoints.”

When the actual night of my party arrived I surveyed the room an hour in: 24 in attendance, if I counted a newborn baby and the bartender. The only crowded area was the bar, and that’s because it was free for a while and there was only one man pouring. I went around like a deranged cloakroom attendant asking if I could hang up anyone’s jacket  but realised that what I was really doing was giving myself the chance to apologise for the poor turnout. “I’m sure more people will be here soon. It’s still early.”

Nobody else did arrive. People grew more and more pissed on the free prosecco. I scanned the room again at midnight and it had turned from a tastefully painted room above a gastro-pub in South London, to a sex dungeon in Berlin, minus the leatherette seating and the complimentary hand-jobs. There were some leather-clad friends on the dance floor though; studded punks of some description dancing to Curtis Mayfield. The strange funk/punk hybrid was a result of my younger Funk Soul Brother being allowed a turn on the decks. His taste in music is questionable but I was too pissed to keep him away and was feeling generous as he’d made the effort to come to the party. That and the fact that I’d only made one punk playlist and arranged no other DJs. People were getting bored with dancing excitedly to the chorus of “Rock the Casbah” then mumbling to the other lyrics of the song that nobody really knows.

As ‘California Soul’ came on, I came up, on nothing other really than the sweet realisation that was “Thank God everyone’s so drunk. Now they’ll never remember what a shit party this is.” I decided to put on a show, to thank them all for all coming. If I had my sober self to talk sternly to my fizz soaked self I would have held out a hand like a traffic controller and said, “Stop. You’ll cause an accident with that manoeuvre.” But the sober me was nowhere to be seen.

I climbed up on to a very wobbly table. As soon as I was high above looking at the sea (well, 20 people after the baby had left with her parents) all I could think was “You’re moving like Alan Partridge when he’s dressed in leather pants in those dream sequences.”

The more I tried to change my groove the worse it got. I wanted to feel like Stevie Nicks when she played Madison Square Gardens but in reality I looked crazy and ridiculous. Then the table fell. I tumbled, and in an attempt to save myself I continued my performance with some strange avant-garde lunges and big flailing arms. I was back in dance GCSE, trying to be Kate Bush. I glanced over at my husband and he beckoned me over. The booze had dried up and it was time to go home.

As I stumbled down the stairs shrugging off my husband’s concern at the bruises on my thighs (dancer’s wounds) it occurred to me that I would have been better off cancelling the party the day before and saving everyone the babysitter’s fees. I would have given all my guests a couple of bottles of champagne and asked them to go home, and get merry with the ones they loved.

But then I remembered that life, for me, is often like a teacher’s tally chart. I feel better if I can put a big tick by the things I’ve put pressure on myself to do, and then mad as it seems I can mentally move on to the next stage. I’ve learnt that parties, if they are my own, are just not for me… but I’ll happily come to yours.

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2 Responses to “Party politics”

  1. Florence February 25, 2012 at 6:52 pm #

    I know you gave the (slightly elderly) bar man a night to remember. Standing there in ecstatic stupor . Evidently he hadn’t expected the host to give a table top sex dance in corset (see previous blog photo).
    You forgot to mention what you were doing with the fairy lights though.
    D

    • mothersruined February 26, 2012 at 5:50 pm #

      Do you know, I honestly can’t remember what I did with the fairy lights… could you fill me in, perhaps privately?!

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