Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Why Can't I Fill My Dance Floor Like I Used To?

Dear Bashionista,

I used to throw a ton of parties, sometimes as many as one a month - nothing too crazy, but I could count on getting a packed house and having it turn into a late-night dance party. Fast forward a couple of years and things are . . . decidedly tamer. I'm not getting the turn-out I used to, and things usually wind down a whole lot earlier. What's the deal? Am I doing something wrong? How can I kick things back into gear?

Brian G.

Dear Brian,

You said something important just then: "Fast forward a couple of years." I am going to guess that your turn-out has less to do with your party-throwing prowess and more to do with the fact that your group of friends is a little bit older than they used to be. Before you worry that you've lost your touch, ask yourself: How many of your friends are now married or in rock-solid coupledom? How many of your friends have had kids in the past couple years? How many have moved to the suburbs? How many now have to be present and functional at their jobs 6 hours after last call?

If you love parties like I do, you know they're great for all sorts of reasons - bonding with friends, shaking it on the dance floor, drinking adventurous cocktails and laughing your face off. But parties are also where a lot of people go to banish loneliness, and to maybe, just maybe, find that special someone. For some people, once they're paired up, they lose the burning desire to stay out all night. Hard for you or I to imagine, but very true.

But take heart! There are some things you can do to reinvigorate your partying population.

Cultivate new friendships

Young people; single people; new, interesting, creative, dynamic people; recent transplants to your city - befriend them! These are the people who are interested in partying and making new friends, and your old friends will be excited to see some new faces as well. Make friends with people at your local pub or karaoke bar - these are the people who are accostomed to staying out all night. Reach out to young, hip coworkers and your neighbors who throw their own parties. Become active in groups that do fun, active things together - theater companies, arts organizations, book clubs, volunteer groups, outdoorsy groups, etc. - and then invite them over.

Adapt parties to suit your population

Making new friends takes time, and possibly a big lifestyle shift. It's much easier to take the people you already know and give them what they want. Most of your friends are coupled up? Host small events - dinner parties, game nights, movie nights - where people can get cozy and have great conversation. Your friend group is experiencing a baby boom? Take advantage of the nice weather and get into the swing of throwing barbecues, great for all ages. Home-buying friends are relocating? Start your bashes earlier and expect them to end at midnight.

- But I want to DANCE! Nowwwwwww!

You can still throw your ragers, your dance parties, your costume galas - but if you're worried that your guests have party fatigue, or are balancing social obligations with family and extended family and professional obligations, then you're going to have to work hard to compete. Cutting down the number of parties you throw will make them more sought after, and will free up your time and resources to make them even more special. For an event like your birthday, send out a save-the-date well in advance. Then send out a proper email invitation, and then talk up your preparations on facebook and when you see people in person. Create some buzz! And for a more elaborate party, create partnerships; asking friends for help with decorating, costuming, food prep, music playlisting, and loaner items not only insures their attendance, you'll be able to accomplish far more than you possibly could have on your own.

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