So, nightclubs are officially open again for the first time since March 2020. And whatever your take on so-called ’Freedom Day’, the return of clubbing has been a strong vicarious vibe. Just look at these photos of people gathering together this week, dancing, and generally just letting off some steam.
Socially, these past 16 months have been extremely difficult for young people. Your twenties are supposed to be a time for going out with friends, staying up all hours, and roaming the streets. And we’ve been completely robbed of all that. No wonder so many people want to be in the club, physically – and spiritually.
But for me? Going “out out” is fun, but while lockdown has officially ended, I’m not sure how comfortable I’d be clubbing right now. Being around that many people for the first time in months feel overwhelming, for a whole host of reasons. Which is why I’m running to the house parties instead.
Truly, a house party is where I thrive. My love for them was born at sixth-form. Back then, the clubbing scene in London wasn’t too accommodating for Black people (it’s still a bit of an issue now). I heard horror stories of Black women not being able to get into clubs and rumours of extortionate entry fees. I live in outer London, near Essex, so getting home was also a nightmare. I was one of the first in my year to turn 18, yet I didn’t step foot in a club until university. The desire was there, but logistically it wasn’t working out for me.
My first proper house party, however, was a friend’s 18th. Turning 18 meant our parents trusting us enough to throw parties at home. The friend only lived a 10-minute walk away from me, so my girlfriend and I bought some cheap wine from the corner shop and walked to the party. I was wearing a midi dress with some heeled black boots. On arrival, we spotted some people we knew from different schools. I immediately knew this was going to be a sick party and it was.
The music was banging, there was room enough to dance, and, crucially, I was in the comfort of friends. I didn’t have to queue up to get in or wait at the bar for a drink for 10 minutes, I didn’t feel like I was missing out on the nightlife at all. After that, I caught the house party bug and, with everyone turning 18, that year really stood out for them.
University was the peak of my house party adventures. My first uni house party was a memorable one as it’s where I properly met my future housemates and best friends. We bonded over our mutual love of Afrobeats and RnB and our distinct lack of alcohol – we were in a rush and had forgotten to bring any. The night ended with us walking home together to halls and watching a low-level fight break out (what uni party doesn’t have a bit of drama, right?)
Typically, those house parties were at the weekend, as weekdays were reserved for clubbing. Our social circles expanded in a way they only do at university and the best part of any night was being able to bounce from house to house. If the first party wasn’t up to much, we’d just make our way to the next, and so on, until it was 6am and time to drift home.
A good house party doesn’t have to be crazy big, another plus in these Covid-conscious times. Often they’re just gatherings. My uni housemates and I didn’t actually host many parties due to a fear of our home being trashed – we opted to throw games nights instead. These weren’t as wild as some of the parties we attended, but the same principles applied: get drunk, at home, with your friends, on a budget. These nights are now tradition in our friendship group, something we can’t wait to get back to.
There is less pretention and showing off to a night in than a night out. I love dressing up and wearing heels, but I also appreciate the casualness of house party codes. I’m able to wear cycling shorts, a nice top and trainers, and not feel underdressed. In fact, this only adds to the overall vibe, which shifts in every room of the house. The living room is typically the place with the music, the garden is the unofficial smoking area and the place to go for a cheeky gossip. The bathroom, well, that’s self-explanatory. And the kitchen?
A kitchen is a special place for me. We all know the Jona Lewie song – except I am good at chatting. The kitchen is for the socialisers, the natter, the debate. Some of the meatiest discussions I’ve had have been in the kitchen at a house party. I’m a natural extrovert and a conversationalist. Perhaps this, ultimately, is why I prefer house parties to clubbing: how much easier it is to socialise and meet new people – or one new person (I still believe I’m more likely to find the love of my life at a house party than on Hinge).
There are so many elements to the house party I’ve missed during the pandemic. That initial awkwardness (yes, even extroverts feel it) when you walk into a room full of people you don’t know; the free alcohol; seeing the boy you’ve fancied for months in the garden; and the joy of staying up till six or beyond, because the best house parties don’t end when the lights come up.
And let’s not forget the post-party gossip in the morning! Now that we are (carefully, mindfully) enjoying some degree of freedom again, I can’t wait to make more house party memories with my friends. Catch me in the kitchen – or garden, if you like – at the next house party near you.