Who knows, in this time of compartmentalised living, when the house party will return? That incongruous mix of debauchery and a kitchenette. Queues for the bathroom as long as those for Michelin-starred restaurants. Sinks filled with ice and beers. Half-crushed paper cups on windowsills. For some reason, always liquorice-flavoured rollies.
House parties are wonderful because 90% of the time they overdeliver. Usually, one dreads them – and then you’re faced with excitable chat between people who are dear to you and those who are not; but, who knows, may become so.
I have run the gamut of house parties. Ones with caterers carrying trays of canapés, and ones where the carpet seems to have become an accepted ashtray. Ones in which the makeshift cloakroom in the bedroom includes furs and Burberry trenchcoats, and others where vintage shell suit jackets jostle together in a burst of colour.
The most famous house party in culture must be Jay Gatsby’s. A bacchanalian night, where the champagne and dresses flow gold, and no expense is spared. A riot of hedonistic, epicurean delight – but ultimately very shallow, AKA my dream evening.
House parties do not tend to have a beginning, a middle and an end. They are shapeshifters; they are multidirectional. There is dancing to LCD Soundsystem, on the wooden floor of a sitting room, bottles precariously perched on a mantelpiece. There is a sidebar conversation in a conservatory. Politics maybe, but more likely gossip. Or gossip about people in politics. People with wide eyes and chewed lips who offer to share illicit goods. In a spare room, there is snogging.
Because the house party takes us back to our youth. I’ve said many times, “I’m too old for house parties,” but the house party is never too old for you. It is the true members’ club; a gate jamming on uneven flagstones is much better than a velvet rope.
The host, who you know and like, or the person who brings you, who you know and like, means that there is a high probability people at the party will be good ones. Fun ones. With interesting conversation and sharp wit. Or just really fit.
My favourite house party experience is thinking you’ll have left by midnight, but ending up calling a taxi at 6am, when the grassy is dewy and the street is quiet. Nodding off to sleep in the back seat, yawning with gratification.