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Saturday, July 02, 2005

The Party


Man is a social animal, and it must follow that he is a party animal too. A party is any gathering of people whose express purpose is to socialize with one another. In this modern world, the concept of the party has been trivialized and all but ignored as a potentially rich medium for social exchange. TV and other electronic diversions have reduced the need to socialize, and devices like air conditioning and the automobile have consigned people to the interior of boxes, whether they be office buildings or cars. The result of all this is a growing sense of isolation among many people, and the rise of a whole set of bizarre cultural values which celebrate our intimate involvement and identification with TV characters.
The great insult of modern culture is the implicit assumption that people cannot entertain each other well. It is a lie to claim that human social intercourse is somehow less rich than an hour spent before the tube watching ‘Melrose Place’. However, the tranquilizing effect of electronic entertainment makes it easy for people to reject all but the most compelling forms of social intercourse. The trick for the prospective party giver therefore is to set the stage to make that dialog of significant interest, and that’s no mean trick.
A good party must appeal to the self interest of each guest, it must protect their egos from the ‘shock’ of making new acquaintances, and it must do so in a setting which is unthreatening and convenient. The recipe for all this is far from obvious, and requires a little psychology as well as a lot of ‘street smarts’. There are several classification schemes for parties that represent the type of socializing affairs we normally run into. Or if the case may be, are run over by. An understanding of these time worn and often worn out formulas is important, since with that understanding we can more easily avoid bad parties, plan better ones, and renew the traditional faith in socializing, and TV soap operas, as one mark of a worthwhile existence.

Party Type #1
The Singles Party
Singles parties are easy to find, and are perhaps the most common of the seven party types. You can locate them in the ‘Things to do’ section of the Friday newspaper, somewhere between the lecture on Astral-plane Buddhist Metaphysics and the weekly meeting of the Needlepoint Club. Although there always seems to be six or seven of these parties going on any Friday night, a curious thing about them is that when you leave on to go to another, you’ll probably meet the same people at the second party that you met at the first. The fact that on any give night you’ll find six or seven singles parties all attended by the same fifty or so people gives the impression that these are the only single people in your entire community. This is of course not true, for the remainder are probably at the Needlepoint Club, or more likely at better parties.
Singles parties are of course the major calling card of the singles group, which is usually based on religious affiliation (e.g. St. Jude’s Singles), marital status (e.g., Partners without Parents), profession (e.g. The CPA Singles Network). Since anyone can be rather flexible in reporting religious affiliation, marital status, or profession, these groups pretty much become alike, and assume a wonderfully bland generic quality.
For the unwary, there are several tell tale signs that immediately inform you that you are at a singles party. Upon entering, you will usually meet a jolly plump fellow behind a card table who will ask you to sign in. After writing down your name, address, phone number, job, blood type, etc., you will be assessed a fee of two or three dollars (no cheap affair this!). You will then be handed a stick-on name tag which says "HI, MY NAME IS ________"). If you successfully fight off the ensuing urge to run away, you will then enter the wonderful world of the singles party, where you will meet all the other tagged, registered, and cataloged folks.
Singles parties can be scary because they force us to be honest about our own self-reliance. In America, we really are supposed to be perfectly happy and fulfilled by spending each Friday evening alone watching ‘Melrose Place’. If you don’t, then there’s something seriously wrong with you. Since singles parties normally have no theme to provide the rationalization for being there, they force us to confront our true motivations in all their horrible nakedness. Singles parties are the most accessible parties, yet they are also the parties we tend to avoid most. Nobody wants to be reminded of the fact that he or she needs the company of others, and they certainly don’t want a scarlet name tag to remind others of it either. The solution to this state of affairs is very clever, and is called the theme party.
Standard Lines
"Haven’t I met you somewhere before?"
"Are you a divorced Catholic CPA with two kids? So am I."
"Hey! I’m missing Melrose Place!"

Party Type #2
The Theme Party
Theme parties are sneaky parties. This is because we presumably attend them for reasons having to do with the party’s theme, or more appropriately, ‘gimmick’. Socializing, of course, is a purely secondary bonus, although deep down we know otherwise. Because theme party attendees normally can’t face up to the real reason for their attendance, they tend to cover up this insecurity by blathering away aimlessly about the party’s usual inconsequential topic, which is something like saving the whales, the leprechauns, or the local string quartet. A favorite haven for theme parties is your local art gallery, which normally trumps up attendance to exhibitions you would never attend in a blue moon by announcing an artist’s reception, a gala, or social. Gallery parties are a special challenge to the partygoer, who must conjure up a wide variety of insightful comments to a gaggle of framed inkblots, smears, and squiggles, while all the while keeping an eye pealed for new and attractive art lovers with whom he could share his insight.
Theme parties thrive particularly well in singles groups, most of whom further camouflage their social aspect by taking on a theme name. Social groups with weird or vague sounding names are usually dead giveaways for a hidden party agenda. Groups like the Yuppie Professional Network, Young Democrats for a Free Albania, or United Debutantes for Nuclear Non-Proliferation usually are no more than fronts for parties. Nonetheless, the membership usually pays the price for this sham by being subjected to numerous seminars, workshops, discussion groups or other similar forms of static torture. When these rites of passage are over, the attendees all meet together in a cocktail party to discuss the prior proceedings, not to mention breathing a collective sigh of relief.
Standard Lines
"Oh, that seminar was son wonderful. I learned so much!"
"I am glad I’m here so that I can do my part to support the cause."
"That painting has such great symbolic meaning."

Party Type #3
The Theme Club
The theme club is similar to the theme party in all respects except that the theme behind group meetings is far less gimmicky in nature, and socializing is of secondary importance. With a theme club, you actually do find a majority of its members committed to the theme, and not to the underlying socializing that does occur. Moreover, oftentimes this commitment can be distressingly real, and a member of a them group can often be hard put to catch up with, let alone talk to. To the resolute party animal, theme clubs have weirdly scrambled priorities insofar as what they actually are about. Yet groups like bicycle clubs, health clubs, and computer clubs really are about such things, and the poor individual who joins such groups for pure socializing is apt to find himself spending more time huffing and puffing than engaging in carefree flirtation.
Theme clubs are the least cost efficient of all the party types because they really don’t provide the setting for formal parties. For whatever socializing that does occur, you pay the up front price of having to spend hours biking up and down hills, doing push ups, or learning about computer input-output devices. If you really don’t have a bonafide interest in doing the things a them club is concerned about, joining one of these groups can be like joining the Marine Corps for the sole purpose of having an after hour snack of tea and crumpets.
Psychologists and other self appointed advisors on the singles scene have a bad habit of strongly recommending theme clubs as ‘the place’ to meet new people. But this misses the point entirely, the for theme party does not provide for the socializing that an individual would prefer who is looking for Mr. or Mrs. Right. Of course, since no one except an unemployed person would have the time anyway to engage in all those prescribed activities, this exalted wisdom is rarely refuted through personal experience. The need to join theme clubs does not necessarily reflect the potential richness of these associations, bur rather reflect a poverty of alternatives. Push ups and computers should never be so falsely glorified.
Standard Lines:
"Do you think the standard I/O port is compatible with the three prong plug?"
"One-two-three-four! Now the knees! One-two-three-four!"

Party Type #4
The Singles Bar
Singles bars are creatures that Charles Darwin would have loved, and a Darwinian metaphor is highly suitable for this unique institution. To find its origin, we must travel back to the Paleolithic period, right around the time of the invention of man’s most marvelous brainchild: the gin and tonic. During this time, man lived in dimly lit caves, and only rarely would he venture out into the untamed world around him, and then it was usually out for a bag or two of ice. The evolution of civilization reduced the need of man to hang out in caves all the time, yet every now and then man feels the instinctual urge to return to his humble origins. Since zoning laws have closed many caves, the singles bar is a dimly lit place where members of the human species congregate for liquid refreshment. Often taking as a namesake the watering hole of the African veldt, the singles bar also provides a watering hole for the species of humanity, as well as a number of subspecies that co-evolved with the bar scent. Of particular note are the species of human insect and reptile known respectively as the barfly and lounge lizard. Since these creature s can be highly aggressive as well as repellent, the bar patron (also known as the barlunker) must be particularly on his or her guard. Indeed, so fearful are these creatures, many women patrons arrive in groups of four or more to provide for their common defense. Having existed for so long in conditions of dim wattage, the eyes of bar flies and lounge lizards have long ago been glazed over. However certain female bar flies have been rumored to possess X-ray vision. Indeed, the author visited on bar recently and tried to engage in conversation with one barfly, who from her blank demeanor seemed to be staring right through me!
In the dim recesses of the singles bar, barflies and lounge lizard can be difficult to recognize. This can cause particular problems for the unwary barlunker, who is often mistaken for a barfly by an unsuspecting female patron, and is promptly swatted. For this reason, it is important that we be aware of the distinguishing characteristics of these creatures. The barfly can usually be seen squatting silently on a bar stool for hours on end in an almost motionless position. Every now and then, something may occur to disturb the barfly’s frozen appearance, and he will buzz of f to another corner of the bar, only to resume his listless trance. The barfly tends to avoid flashy dress so as to resist the unwanted attentions of others, yet will usually not take flight unless engaged by the barlunker in intelligent conversation.
In contrast to the harmless nuisance of the barfly, the lounge lizard is a predator well adapted to the bar-cave environment. Preying almost exclusively on female barlunkers, the lunge lizard is fearless and persistent in pursuit, often in spite of impossible odds. This is probably because of the lounge lizard’s incredibly small brain, which is barely capable of allowing the lizard to hand his mixed drink, let alone engage in conscious thought. Lounge lizards may be distinguished by their shellacked and/or over styled bushy hair and by their predilection for gold chains and thick polyester armor plating. This rambunctious creature can be seen scampering abut the singles bar at a rather fast clip while simultaneously engaging female patrons with various permutations of his vast 25 word vocabulary. When a female makes the fatal gesture of responding to the lizard’s conversation, the lizard will stop in his tracks, and will attempt to lure the female to his den by offering to show her his collection of grat been cans of Europe that he recently purchased from the Franklin Mint. If the female is foolish enough to consent, she must take special care lest she be poisoned by the often venomous lizard. If poisoning occurs, she must consult he herpe-toloogist immediately.
What effectively destroys the party ambience of the singles bar is the prevalence of these unsavory personality types. Compounding the situation is the immense fluidity and deafening din of the singles, bar which normally prevents the bard patron from sorting out friend from foe. Thus, everyone’s on their guard, with the result that just about everybody stands about in semi-paralysis with drink in hand while fruitlessly trying to scope out who’s naughty and who’s nice.
Mortality rates tend to be very high in singles bars, and this is particularly true among women. Because the male patron knows that the female he meets will probably not be around for very long, he will often try to spirit her away in an altruistic effort to get to know her better. All too often though, she turns out to be a barfly, and the poor male must tell her to buzz off. The same problem also frequently occurs for many female patrons, who will often become sickened by the turgid bar atmosphere. Because most would not like to be caught dead in a place like this, preferring of course to expire at home, many accept the company of a lounge lizard, with unfortunate and predictable results.
The singles bar gives a very narrow and constricting focus to a party, and serves to accommodate well only one activity: making dates. One doesn’t go to the singles bar to meet new friends, or to discuss the finer points of Quantum Mechanics. The bar atmosphere does not accommodate itself to such things. Making dates is about the only think you can do at the singles bar, because such an activity does not take much time, conversation, or brains. The problem though is that most people do not spend their every waking moment thinking about the number of dates they can have; preferring instead to pursue the many shades of gray in between. These in between states are normally called friendships. Unfortunately, the nice girl or guy one meets at the singles bar will probably not be around the next time you go to your friendly bar, thus dating serves as a frequent course of last resort to maintaining contact with people you find of interest. Nonetheless, the usual rule in such places is that interesting people fade in and out like shooting stars; sometimes you’ll catch one, but for the most part they will escape your grasp.
Singles bars, like singles parties, bestow a rather uncomfortable shadow around the ‘guests’. But whereas a singles party casts a shade of vulnerability of loneliness over its guests, visiting a singles bar connotes an opposite perception of aggressive and/or shady intentions. These suspect motivations are often deflected somewhat by the common chant: "Golly, I don’t come here that often, so isn’t all this very interesting?" These words tend to mask a more candid motivation which translated into something like this: "Hi! I’m with the Russian army, could you please hand over your women and wristwatches?" Because dating is the only practical pursuit in bars, aggressive sociability is the grand tactic that bears the most success. However, the tender constrains of etiquette and our own personality styles weights hard against this contextual command. Although we know that very few people behave like social Napoleons, in a bar it always seems that just about everybody except ourselves is doing just that. This can cause a veritable emotional tug of wary, as we internally browbeat ourselves for refusing the role of a social gadabout.
The singles bar ultimately fails as a party because it relies heavily on contextual cues that set the standard for subtle patterns of behavior that are all wrong in any situation, let alone the situation that generates them. In a bar, the hidden rules of the game say that to play well, one must act strong and forceful.. Nonetheless, the real predominant behavior in bars is not the social aggression of a land shark, but the frenzied movement of a school of fish that is being stalked. Normally, the singles crowd meanders about in long circles while excitedly gaping at itself. This is called ‘people watching’, and serves to convince you that since everybody else seems to be having fun, you’re having fun too? Not willing to seem to be a party pooper, you promptly submit to this crowd psychology, and obligingly laugh and smile while you are pushed and shoved around the bar by a seething and incoherent mass of anonymous people. After wandering around in circles for an hour or two, you marvel at how good a time can be had a mass social gathering without having once to utter a single sentence greater than fifteen syllables.
"Do you come here often?"
"What do you do for a living?"
"What’s your sign?"
"Gee, I just hate places like this."

Party Type #5
The Family Social
As very little children, probably our first party experience came with the family get together at our parent’s house. Toddling about the living room like a cuddly cue ball, we would ricochet back and forth like a wind up doll while chirping in delight as we somehow ambled one more time across the room. This pretty much sets the patterns for the family social, save for the fact that as we grow older, our relatives take less obvious delight in our ability to utter nonsense syllables, gurgle happily, and drool. This is a shame too, for family socials would be a lot more fun if you weren’t expected to ‘perform’. Older family members take special delight in their younger kin, and the family social is just the thing to get them all together so they can find out their latest accomplishments and exploits.
Given this hidden intent, family socials have all the predictable spontaneity of debriefing sessions for World War II bomber pilots. You’ve been out there in the cold cruel world for a year or so, so you simply must tell your loving auntie e v e r y t h i n g that happened. So just sit there, eat your apple pie, and tell her how you’ve been taking flak from your boss, bombed out at school, or got shot down by your latest girlfriend. Usually, your aunt will sit listening in rapt attention while intermittently gushing forth with expressions of deep sympathy or high admiration. You do of course obligingly ask your aunt about her own state of affairs, but deep down you really don’t care about her needlepoint patterns or that awful wax buildup on her kitchen floor.
There are however some saving pleasure. First off, you had best come hungry to a family social, for there will almost certainly be lots and lots of food on hand; more than enough it would seem to feed Patton’s Third Army. Secondly, in spite of the expectation of being subjected to a friendly round of grand inquisitorial tactics, it really is nice to see your kinfolk, and being uncritically accepted is a welcome balm to any fractured ego. Third, when at a family social, you can relax your inhibitions, and act like that wonderful lazy slob that your mom always adored.
Family socials are fine when they involve just you and a few close kin. It can be an entirely different matter when more distant relatives are involved. It is an interesting fact that the more distant a relative, the further down the evolutionary tree he or she seems to be. It can be uncomfortable to say the least to meet your first or second cousin, and actually entertain the thought that he or she shares some of your genes. Worse yet is when these creatures actually display a liking for you. It is here that you declare your illegitimacy, or declare a strict lineage from your father’s line.
Unfortunately, you usually can’t beat an easy escape through the front door when confronted with a family social turned awful. Oftentimes, this is because you are staying over at the relative who is throwing the affair. However, in such a case you can usually retreat to your bedroom, provided of course that you barricade the door to protect yourself form the importune intrusions of your relatives. For the most part though, you have to grin and bear it, and remember that all you need to confess is your name, job, and social security number.
"My, have you grown!"
"Please dear, take care of little Willie while I get more cheese dip."
"I’d like to introduce you to your cousin LuLu. You know, she’s been dying to meet you!"
"Let me tell you about my trip to the Grand Canyon!"

Party Type #6
The House Party
To throw a good party, a reliance on your basic social instincts often just won’t do. You need a learning curve, a succession of self planned parties that give you a feel as to what makes a party work. For the most part, house parties have an honored place at the bottom of that learning curve, and are a testament to good intentions gone awry. Each of us has probably succumbed to the temptation of throwing a party, and having done so, found that the experience almost never matches our idealistic preconceptions. We can accelerate a bit forward on our learning curve if we notice the tell tale signs of the typical house party. For one thing, you will normally find too few people at a house party. The guests will usually be cemented like barnacles on a few chairs or couches scattered about the house. Prying them off is rather hopeless, since they are primarily attached to the host. And that’s just the problem. Since a house party host usually throws his or her party once or twice a year, many guests come out of a skewed sense of obligation, as if attendance fulfills their responsibility as good citizens. Moreover, these guests tend to be a fickle and impatient lot, and normally excuse themselves soon after arrival so that they can return home to mind the kids, the laundry, or to catch the latest episode of Melrose Place. Even when you implore them to stay, it is uncomfortable to watch them nervously pace about the floor, worried about whether their laundry load safely reached the spin cycle.
Only at house parties can you find a guest list that reads like a perfect random sampling of the population of West Virginia. You may rest assured that every age, profession, and religious group will be represented at a house party, and everybody will be well prepared to be totally disinterested in one another. This is because the house party hose is usually hard put enough to come up with a long enough list of people to invite, let alone a list of people who would find each other interesting. Because of these great differences in background and interests, party conversation tends to degenerate, and center on such controversial issues as the relative merits of St. Augustine grass, or how much starch should be added to shirt collars. Perhaps this is another reason why so many guests hurriedly excuse themselves to go home. In times like this a spin cycle can be a relatively delightful and stimulating diversion.
House parties are the most common of the seven party types, and that’s too bad, because parties should never reinforce one’s attachment to TV or laundry. They do of course represent for the most part a first experiment in party giving, yet a host almost never has the resources, the interest, or the social connections to improve upon his effort. Thus, house parties retain the awful stigma of blandness, and the ratings of Melrose Place climb ever higher.

How often do you mow your grass?
Hi, I’m from West Virginia
You must excuse us for leaving, my wife is expecting in nine months.
Party Type #7
The Yachting Party
Everybody goes to yachting parties, well at least everybody on TV does. TV people both on and off state just love Yachting parties, and well they should. Whether the party is documented on ‘Entertainment Tonight’ or your daily soap opera, you can rest assured that just about everyone will be having a wonderfully grand time. After seeing yachting parties time after time, and intoxicated with visions of beautiful people and glittering conversation, we endeavor to throw our own. Invariably though, our grand gesture dissolves into a generic house party that has all the gusto of flat beer.
The key to a successful yachting party comes from an unlikely analogy: a successful dinner party. At a dinner party the focus is place on the dinner ambience, and of course, the food. A great dinner party depends upon the good taste and culinary skills of the host, and all the right ingredients to base his success are never further away than the grocery store. A yachting party is no different, save that the main entrĂ©e is not food, but people. In a yachting party, everybody looks scrumptious, relatively speaking of course. That is, because most of the guest’s desire and want to offer the same thing, mainly each other; an ideal yachting party percolates with excited folks engaged in sustained flirtation and conversation.
As in gourmet dining, cooking up a good yachting party is no mean trick. This is mainly because the prime ingredients of the party (i.e., people) are a lot more difficult to procure than, say, two green onions, diced mushrooms, and a pinch of nutmeg. Moreover, Yachting guests tend to be more finicky than Morris the Car. Since each guest has his or her own preferences as to who would be ideal company, the host must be prepared to withstand the inevitable grousing about the lack of enough men or women, young or old, republicans or democrats, etc. This tendency towards extreme choosiness tends to mask the real priorities of party goers, which are first to flirt, and only second to socialize. One reason why yachting parties are predominantly singles affairs is that , unless drawn in by the party’s theme, married people would just as well stay at home and watch soap operas on TV. Flirtation is a function of very special tastes, and since a Yachting party is not bound together by an special theme, whether it be saving the whales, visiting the Jones’s, or celebrating Grandpa’s birthday, a very strong motivation such as good old ‘sex’ has to be the glue which holds the party together. The key therefore to running a successful yachting party is to provide every stimulation to flirting, or at least the hope thereof.
A yachting party is distinguished by its adherence to three important rules: 1) it occurs frequently and/or is hosted will, 2) the greater party of the guests are new at each party, and 3) the guests are similar in terms of education, attractiveness, and social skills.
A yachting party should occur frequently (at least every eight weeks) and/or should be well hosted to insure that guests solidify and build upon past acquaintances, and are made at ease with new guests through introductions arranged by those acquaintances or by the host himself. Introductions are important because even when driven by a burning need to meet new people, our everyday manners tend to resurface at parties, and we tactfully refrain from diving into the awaiting crowd, who seem to be doing just swell enough without talking to you. Since most of the crowd is under the same illusion, social mixing is greatly retarded by the ill founded implications of the deceptive appearance that everybody know everybody else. Indeed, close to the opposite is usually the case.
By being held frequently and/or hosted well, the yachting party dispels this illusion because people can mingle much better when among former acquaintances or when introduced formally. Because they are better able to take the measure of the party, and will not discount the rewards of their individual friendliness. It thus becomes much easier to enjoy the party when socializing becomes effortless and comfortable.
The greatest bane of social, and in particular, singles groups is the lack of any significant turnover in membership. The more a single person has to offer, whether it be social skills, professional status, or physical attractiveness, the greater will his or her demands be from a singles group. Because quality single people are a notoriously fickle lot, they demand a new assortment of singles at each party to properly whet their appetites and stir their fantasies. If this doesn’t occur, they quickly run through the group’s current membership, and then drop out completely once convinced that the group’s functions will be stale reenactments of prior affairs.
It is for this reason that singles groups for professionals degenerate rapidly after promising starts, and why singles parties often become havens for singles who have few social alternatives. Because of these trends, a community’s social scene naturally gravitates to the theme party, where socializing is impaled upon some trendy gimmick, or else stagnates in the commonplace singles party.
The antidote for this sad trend is to simply vary the invitees from party to party. This can be done by having different friends co-host each party and invite their friends, and by maintaining a sign in list for all guests to provide a pool of potential future invitees. By working towards a goal of at least half of the invitees representing new of seldom seen faces, the parties will retain their freshness, and will entice party regulars to attend more frequently.
Finally, yachting parties should have guests who have relatively similar interests, ages, occupations, etc. These criteria can be as broad or as narrow as the party giver may determine given her experience as to how different people mix socially, and of course her own personal preference as to the type of people that would be best for the party. She should not however try to arrange a party with too wide a variety of people, since many types of people have certain predictable preferences regarding the type of company they want to keep. Thus, many young people in their early twenties would feel uncomfortable in a party composed of guests who are primarily in their thirties or forties, and vice versa.
It would seem at first a bit surprising, but yachting parties form a socializing atmosphere that best fits female perspectives and values. Women have always had a tendency for behavior that’s a lot more sociable than men, who often revel too much in solitary competition. Socializing implies cooperation, or the sublimation of the ego to group values. In other words, it forces people, men in particular, to behave themselves. At first, many men may not realized that the yachting party is just such a socializing medium, and may think that yachting represents a benign sort of singles bar, where the women have been lulled into an easy accessibility. Anyone who has ever been to a singles bar knows that women often travel in schools of from three to six, and yachting parties would seem to be a marvelous medium for the catching and sexual processing of many ladies, who scarcely flinch when you toss them a well worn line. Many budding Don Juans are thus surprised when they proverbially pull in their line, only to find a little note on their hook which says: "Sorry, Charlie". This rude shock is due to the fact that since yachting parties encourage friendship, that means networking. Since women in particular are old pros in forming and maintaining networks of friends, this is bad news for those menfolk who wish to use the parties for indiscriminate girl trawling. In yachting, the girl limit is usually one. As women will pretty soon know the score about most male guests, men will find it difficult to scorer, well at least not as often as they would like. Also, because there is no need to be defensive, being among friends in a friendly environment, a lady can afford to be naturally relaxed and affable. A gentleman, on the other hand, must shuck his fishing pole, and demonstrate that his friendliness is not simply a lure devised by predatory impulses.
Although the yachting party can be viewed as a clever feat of social engineering, it can also be viewed as an exercise in nostalgia for parties we once knew. Before the age of nuclear weaponry, the cold war, and singles bars, there was a time when the preeminent mode of partying was in many respects very similar to yachting. In these simpler times, our parents met and socialized in high school dances, navy dances, fraternity parties, neighborhood bars, and other very safe and chaperoned environments. Since people weren’t yet afflicted by the mania to move about, and there was no encouragement to delay marriage for the purpose of career or ‘self-discovery’, socializing met simpler and more wholesome needs, and partying was an essential part of the social fabric. These parties were unabashedly designed for flirting and socializing. They were always attended by new and engaging people, and were thrown often and hosted well. The only difference was that our parents weren’t consciously aware of all the subtle elements that made these parties the success they were. The parties were but a naturally feature of a simpler society, and there was no need to derive their formula in order to assure their continued prevalence and vitality. The parties kept their secrets, and as society changed, they receded into a collective nostalgia.
The well run yachting party is by nature popular and well attended, yet in spite of the obvious need for a better means whereby contemporary adults may comfortably socialize, yachting parties cannot be as easily served up as if they were a type of fast food. That is the example of a singles bar, where a ‘party’ is in place every Friday or Saturday night for the simple price of a mixed drink. The example for yachting is different. Yachting cannot be ‘served up’ for popular consumption any more than an ‘Antoines’ or ‘Brennans’ can be franchised across the country like a pricier McDonald’s. The successful yachting party requires that the basic recipe for the party be followed with spirit and style, and that is something that transcends the mere adherence to ‘rules’. Personalities cannot be franchised, and it is personalities that are the stock and trade of yachting parties, and indeed, of those lively souls who run them. The recipe for the yachting party is the necessary ingredient, for it can provide a guide to experience, and hopefully to the renaissance of a delightful social institution that in contemporary culture has lost much its intrinsic delight: the party.

"They’re too many women here!"
"Let me introduce you to Mary, Bill, Kathleen, Bob, and my pet parakeet, Wilbur."
"Is this the Delta-Chi Navy homecoming dance?"

Invariably, most parties are advertised as if their main benefit is helping you support some worth charity, some worthy art form, or some equally boring yet worthy theme. Likewise, if a party fails, the host is usually quick to blame to unworthiness of the food, the ambience, and of course the party theme. As we have noted, human motivations aren’t so complicated, and attendance at parties succeed or fail dependent upon whether they are hosted well, thrown frequently, have a high percentage of new guests, and have guests who are very similar in terms of social skills, age, and attractiveness. The ideal party type would strongly embrace all four criteria. This is the case with the yachting party, nonetheless the other six party types could be immeasurably improved if their hosts planned them against type, and incorporated into them the necessary elements that these parties usually lack. For example, a theme party could be better hosted to insure a more sociable and friendlier crowd, or a list of guests who have more in common could be prepared for a house party. Normally though, in is very difficult for a party host to arrange these elements differently.
It is hard to envision, let alone arrange, a well hosted singles bar, a family social with lots of guests who have similar interests to you, or a theme party celebrating the fine arts occurring every three weeks. The purposes of these parties simply do not lend themselves to be changed, and because of this, the very structure of these parties resists changes that would make them more attractive to all guests. Because the shape of a party is determined by its purpose, whether the purpose is the pursuit of a hobby, an opening of an art show, the reunion of relatives, or a simple gathering of friends, it is often impractical or unnecessary in the host’s eyes to effect the changes that would improve the parties. In short, parties are usually not thrown to optimize their socializing value for all guests, and for most parties, they can’t be. Because most party types have attributes that are unique and uncompromisable, it is a relatively simple task to set them apart by means of their very unique combination of attributes.
In the following table, each of the seven party types are distinguished according to how well they embrace four separate criteria: 1)frequency, 2)good hosting, 3) turnover in guests, and 4) similarity in guests. The only party that strongly incorporates all four criteria is the yachting party, yet the yachting party is, as we have said, not simply a theme, singles, or house party that is run well. Its purpose it to maximize socializing and the relationships, both sexual and non-sexual, that stem from socializing. It is this solitary emphasis that distinguishes it from every other party type, and makes it the ideal medium for the initiation and maintenance of healthy social relationships.

Theme Club
Single Bar
Very High
Family Social

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