Ask a fifth-year: Polite partying

Drew Baumgartner

Dear Drew,
I’ve always been a bit shy, but I’m trying my hardest to get out and meet people. Any tips for how to best conduct myself at a party?
-Wallflower in Wisconsin
Dear Wallflower,
That’s a pretty timely question there, Wallflower. Your interest in pushing outside of your comfort zone is commendable, and parties can be a great place to meet people, provided that both you and the people you meet are putting your best feet forward. Unfortunately, conduct at parties as of late has offered terrible first impressions for a lot of people, making the prospects of getting to know anyone rather undesirable. I’ll offer you a few simple tips for party conduct that will hopefully double as reminders for the rest of campus.
Remember that you’re not the only one at the party. I know, it seems impossible to forget that there are 200 people trying to dance on top of you, but a lot of partygoers act as though the party is just for them and their friends. Aside from the very occasional birthday party, this is almost never the case. Everybody is there to have a good time, and getting in the way of that is just plain rude.
Remember that you’re somebody’s guest. Most parties on campus take place in somebody’s room or house – their own home that they’ve been gracious enough to share with you for a night. The least you can do in return is be grateful, courteous and understanding. I’ve seen partiers go so far as to clean up a spilled drink, but I’ve also seen guests insult hosts who are simply trying to comply with security, who, more often than not, is right there behind you. I would love to see more of the first kind of guest, and no more of the second. It would be a shame if the negatives of hosting a party began to outweigh the positives.
Don’t drink more than you know you can handle – that is, handle with grace. Free booze can be hard to pass up, but don’t make the party a social experiment in how belligerent you can get before somebody throws you out. Alcohol’s role as social lubricant only works in moderation; in higher quantities, it’s just an expensive vomit-inducer. Personally, I’d rather remember having a good time than forget hours spent with my head in the toilet. Staying in control will also help you remain respectful of your host and fellow guests, so everybody wins.
Remember that, ultimately, parties happen at the discretion of Security. Complying with Security’s wishes is the best way to ensure the continuation of the party. This could mean stepping outside for a moment, handing over your drink or helping quiet the crowd. Security doesn’t want to be the bad guy, so they’ll only shut down a party if they’re really unhappy with the way things are going, but that just means we all have to do our part to keep them happy.
If everyone keeps these tips in mind, we’ll all have a great time at parties. Additionally, we’ll admire each other so much for acting like mature adults that we won’t be able to help but become fast friends. Of course, parties can be loud, and not everyone is interested in meeting new people at parties, or even being nice, so I might recommend exploring other social venues.
Fortunately, most other places to meet people on campus require even more shared interest than simply beer and dancing. Every campus organization is filled with people passionate about their respective hobbies, from college radio to student government to environmentalism. I would recommend finding a campus organization that interests you, heading to a meeting, and see if you don’t hit it off with your like-minded peers.
Have a question? Send it to Drew at baumgara@lawrence.edu

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