Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Top Five Parties I Have Thrown

Time for another 'Top Five' list! In the aftermath of my rather disappointing housewarming at the weekend, I have been reflecting on the more 'successful' parties I have given. I think I'll restrict myself here to parties I have thrown at my home, since it's a little difficult to make a comparison with parties organised at bars or restaurants (and there are an awful lot of those, since I was a "semi-professional" party organiser as a student, heavily involved in the 'dining society' and cocktail party scene).

So, here we go then.....

The All-Time Top Five Parties Thrown Chez Froog

5) 'Collections' Cocktails
At Oxford University, 'Collections' are internal examinations organized by the individual colleges, usually administered just before the beginning of each term - to check whether you've done your assigned holiday reading! They soon become a humdrum routine, no more than a minor irritation; but for first-year students they can seem rather daunting. Most of my friends and I were pretty nervous about the first set of 'Collections' we faced just after Christmas (not least because, in my case at least, I hadn't done any of the holiday reading). So.... I threw a breakfast party for a dozen friends in my tiny undergraduate room for an hour immediately before they were due to start: croissants and cocktails at 7.30am. It was such an outrageously silly - self-destructive! - idea; but it was just what we needed to distract us from the impending exams and reduce our anxieties.

4) The Pyjama Party at the old Froog Towers
Everyone has to throw a pyjama party at some point in their lives - particularly if you live in Beijing, where the penchant of the local people for using pyjamas as outdoor wear (and at any season of the year!) is one of the city's most appealing quirks. I did mine about 5 years ago, in my previous - much larger - apartment. The pretext for that party was my girlfriend's (American academic, The Buddhist) birthday; although, I fear her celebration got hijacked or upstaged rather by the sudden return of my buddy The Chairman to China (Big Frank was still around at this time, so the evening degenerated into a Three Amigos reunion as we sat in a cheap neighbourhood restaurant drinking 3kuai beers until 3am or 4am). People seem more inclined to turn out for parties in the evening than in the afternoon; and the birthday pretext was probably also an incentive - so, it was probably one of the biggest turnouts I've had for an event here in China. A lot of people failed to enter into the dressing-up spirit, but enough did to render us quite a spectacle when we went out on the road at around 10pm or so - headed to our 'after-party', which was of course in nearby BED bar. There are probably still pictures of us out on the Internet: I don't think I've ever seen such a large group of laowai wearing pyjamas in public!!

3) New Year's Eve Party in Oxford
I'm not a big fan of New Year's Eve, and this is the only occasion on which I've thrown a party on this date. In my penultimate year as an undergraduate, I was renting quite a big semi-detached house in West Oxford, and so thought I should put it to use by inviting a small group of friends to come and party with me. We had warm-up drinks at the house, then went into town for a slap-up Chinese meal, then returned to the house for midnight revelries. The party expanded rather beyond the originally anticipated numbers, and we all got very, very drunk. Around 3am or 4am, there was no more booze to be had in the place..... so my enterprising Scots friend The Bookseller cracked open a bottle of Benylin cough syrup and started offering that around to anyone who was still conscious.

2) St Patrick's Day Party at the old Froog Towers
I'm not sure why, but I think this actually drew the biggest attendance of any of the parties I've thrown here in China. For once, people were all fully willing to come in the afternoon. And for once, I hadn't over-extended myself with the catering: I simply cooked up two huge pots the previous day (leek & potato soup and Irish stew), and put them on a very low simmer on party day - both were very well received. Naturally, I got very tired and emotional (I'm a terrible Plastic Paddy!), and tried at one point to sing The Wild Rover down the phone to The Chairman (who was working in Hangzhou that year, I think).

And....... the wildest Froog party ever was.....

1) The 'Back on the booze' party at that house in Oxford
Yes, that was a great party year. Six months on from the humongous New Year's Eve party (number 3) above), I had another, even wilder bash. I had been starting to fear that my drinking was doing bad things to my bank account (if not to my liver), so I decided to go completely dry throughout most of the summer term. Of course, that gave me the perfect excuse to throw a huge end-of-term party at my rented house in West Oxford when I started drinking again. I laid on strawberries and ice cream..... and lots of Pimm's (much of it consumed in combination with sparkling white wine - a concoction popularized, if not invented, by my fellow Corpuscle [as members of my college are affectionately known] Mr A, and known by the suitably warning name of 'Rocket Fuel'). Most of the party took place in the large garden out the back - which was bizarrely decorated with numerous pieces of ceramic toilet furniture (I was renting from a mysterious and slightly sinister Chinese businessman who owned a couple of restaurants in town; he had decided to re-equip the restrooms in one of them, and just dumped all the old fittings in my garden; they all seemed perfectably serviceable, and we assumed he would one day put them back in another of his restaurants or sell them on..... but he seemed to just forget about them): there is a group photo of me and several of my guests sitting on lavatories in the open air - like living garden gnomes. At another point (I cannot remember why) a good number of us had improvised 'Kamikaze' headbands for ourselves with strips of loo-paper and red felt marker pen and were running up and down the garden in formation, crying "Tora! Tora! Tora!" Alas, many of these headbands were later unwisely disposed of in the loo, causing a severe blockage (and my female housemates were somehow convinced that I had done this deliberately to piss them off - it wasn't me, ladies, honestly!). The frivolities came to an abrupt end when The Bookseller inadvertently put his foot through our glass front door; but, luckily, he wasn't badly hurt, and this accident just provided a convenient excuse for us to adjourn to a bar in town. After 6 or 7 weeks of abstinence, my alcohol tolerance was well down; I am afraid I got very, very drunk. So drunk, indeed, that I have very little recollection of what happened with the remainder of the evening; I remember suddenly finding myself walking home, as if I'd just materialized from somewhere, been beamed back to earth after an alien abduction episode; it was around dawn, and I was perplexed to find that I was wearing my boxer shorts outside my trousers. Ah, we were young and crazy then. I don't think that one will ever be topped.


gary said...

Wow, that last one does sound pretty EXTREME, even by the standard of College parties. Anyone get arrested or hospitalized?

Froog said...

I fear it may have led to the demise of a few budding romantic relationships, but there were no other casualties as such. I think I was probably the worst affected - drinking that much after a two-month lay off was just suicidal.

It did lead to a wealth of good memories and good stories, though. I think a lot of my Oxford contemporaries have fond recollections of that party (and its aftermath - but I think I'd better suppress further details for now).