Tonight we’re gonna party like it’s 1999, sang Prince.
Which would mean ditching our smartphones, not playing Crazy in Love, or Uptown Funk, and I’m not even sure I want to contemplate the fashion choices we’d be subjecting ourself to once more.
I bought the single, 1999, when it came out. It wasn’t my first foray into the music of Prince but it was the one that got me hooked and delving back through his previous albums. Years later, when it was 1999, with the millenium looming it re-entered the radio playlists and made me think back to my childhood parties.
There are photos of my first few birthday parties, typically just me and a couple of friends (Alan and Iain) and a homemade cake. A few years on as we hit the final years of primary school, birthday parties were marked by what we called ‘record nights’. A gathering of boys and girls, and you brought your LPs and singles. Food and juice, and the first venturing into games like spin the bottle.
We were so young, and it wasn’t until one specific party where, for whatever reason, that everyone played along. Previously, spin the bottle had led to being shoved into a cupboard with a girl you knew but didn’t like, or knew and liked a lot but you knew she was ‘getting off with’ someone else, so nothing much happened except some embarrassed giggles. God help you if you got shoved in there with your childhood crush which rendered you a blushing mute.
That party though, the one that changed things, meant that my first kiss with a girl happened in the dark. To my shame, my memory won’t let me remember who it was, but like everyone else, as we exited the cupboard to giggling exclamations from our friends, we broke off into our own little boy/girl splits and confirmed that yes, we snogged but no, no it wasn’t a frenchie.
And we all did it, random couple after random couple spun that bottle and entered the cupboard, did the deed, then walked out again and, after that, it all started to change. Soon there was talk of boyfriends and girlfriends, snogging became a past time, that open mouthing of each other for tens of minutes on end until you got the much heralded badge of pride, lock jaw, because you’d been going at it for so long.
Parties like that dwindled away for me through secondary school as my group of friends chopped and changed. There were Christmas dances at school, and other gatherings, but it wasn’t until I went to college that the notion of parties rolled around again.
These were entirely different beasts, for a start alcohol made an appearance, the music was louder and typically it was merely the precursor to heading out at midnight to the Tunnel or Sub Club for further debauchery. But that’s enough about that, my parents read this ya know!
And now as a mature adult (stop laughing at the back) parties are now things held to mark an occasion, not just because it’s the weekend. Engagement parties, Christmas parties and the like. Except, for the most part, we stopped calling them parties.
For example, every December 27th, me and my closest friends gather and spend time together, eating, drinking, laughing, playing games. It’s a party in all aspects except name. And it is the best of times, and certainly my favourite day of the festive season.
The years churn on and my niece has kickstarted the cycle of parties once more. These days they take place in play centres, safe spaces where the kids can run and jump and dance and eat cake. Which really isn’t all that different to how things used to be. And that’s beauty of a party, it’s not time based, and whilst the activities and musical backdrop may change, and lord knows the fashions have, it’s still a time to be happy in the company of friends and family.
So, here’s to the party, may it always evolve but never change.
After all there’s only one approach that has always, and will always apply, right?
Party on, dude!