My apologies for the long gap since my last article. Things have been pretty busy this year as well as many life obstacles getting in the way. I try to get one of these out each month if I can and I think it has been around 3 months since the last one.
As well as that I am getting to the point where I have covered so many topics I am beginning to run out of good ideas that haven’t been done to death or where I would be repeating myself. So I have a few that I started on and they kind of trailed off into nothing. It happens, maybe I will revisit them when I get a fresh perspective and some inspiration.
One thing I have been doing a lot of this year (and the past few years) is attending house parties. So I will write about that. If you follow my youtube you will see I have posted quite a few videos of me dancing about at house parties this year. I will link a couple at the end of the article.
Angela Benedict made a video a couple of years ago covering house parties too. It is worth a look so here it is.
What gave me the idea to write this? I was noticing in comment sections for many things online people complain that they have no goth events or goth scene in their area. Also many commenters are underage so even with a local scene if events are 18+ (or 21+ as they often can be in USA, seriously USA you need to get with the rest of the planet on those age restrictions) they can’t go anyway. It isn’t like the old days when clubs were often looser with enforcing ID checking or fake IDs were easier to make or acquire. All ages club nights also tend to make little money so event organizers and venues often don’t like running them. There are other all ages friendly things people can do (daytime activity gatherings and so on) but the focus is alternatives to club nights here.
Times change so we have to adjust with them.
From a house party in 2014 before we started to step things up
I feel I have to say that I am no way recommending nor endorsing people to drink underage or take illegal drugs in this article. Some house parties will have these elements as part of them but they do not have to. You can still have some fun and a great social time experiencing goth music together without them.
I am a terrible influence
Advantages of House Parties
To start with age is not a limit. I have attended house parties with people aged 11 (admittedly my own kids) to 50s/60s. This is a huge plus for anyone not old enough to experience a club night to get a taste of it if the party can create the right atmosphere.
Whoever hosts the party can set the rules. Want to keep it alcohol or drug free? Make it part of the conditions of people attending. You set when it starts, when it finishes, whether people can crash after or have to leave, can people bring friends or not and so on.
You get to choose the music for the most part but there are many ways to provide it which I will discuss later. How big or small the party goes is up to you. You do not want to bore your guests playing music everyone hates so some compromises may need to be made.
All hail the DJ!
It is your space so you can set it up as you choose. Whether this means restricting parts of the house you don’t want guests to go to is up to you. If it is winter you might want a fire pit outside. You will likely have to designate smoking areas outside too.
For the attendees, house parties are way cheaper than club nights. You aren’t paying jacked up prices for possibly watered-down drinks. Most are bring your own drinks so you can choose if you want to go all out or not. You can bring an esky (or a cooler to the rest of the world) with drinks on ice and you have yourself covered. Plus you can use the ice in your drinks too.
There are different types of house parties and you get to choose what you want to do. Will it begin with a meal or a barbecue? Would you rather hold a non-musical gathering and do something like play multiplayer video games, board games or tabletop RPGs? Maybe you want to run one of those murder mystery games or something. It doesn’t have to be drinking and dancing.
Drinking and dancing can be fun though
Disadvantages of House Parties
There will be less people attending than most club nights. Some may see this as an advantage but if you are aiming to meet new people unless people bring friends along. But make sure you clear it with the party host is you are going to do that. After a few house parties at the same place the mix of people usually becomes pretty well known to everyone with few new people being introduced.
An advantage of club nights is they tend to be held in more central locations like the CBD (central business district, main street or town centre) of your town/city. House parties can happen in the suburbs and may not be the most accessible to get to, especially if you have to drive. I have attended some that were tricky to get to via public transport too.
Unlike in a club, if you run out of drinks then you run out. People often underestimate how much they will drink at a party and don’t bring enough. If everyone is drinking and no one is sober enough to drive a beer run can’t be done. You kind of have to plan ahead and experience will teach you what works for you after a few parties.
Last point leads into this one. Sometimes you will get people who try mooch drinks, drugs, and even rides home. I have found if I can’t cover something going to a party it is best to tell the host first. If an arrangement can’t be pre-organised then it may be best I don’t go. There will always be more house parties in the future if people are enjoying them.
The big part of hosting a house party is the clean up afterwards. Some party guests will help clean up as you go, sometimes there will be a big mess left to deal with the morning after. At a club cleaning up is their job and you get to leave it to them.
We try clean up as we go but even then it can be a losing battle
“But Joe, that is all well and good. But I live in an apartment! And local noise laws say everything off by 10pm!”
These are very valid concerns. Luckily the house parties I attend are usually in fully detached houses with a fair bit of space. We still go fairly late with loud music because they don’t do it all the time and we check to be sure it isn’t too loud outside. In fact the only two times the police did intervene were when I was DJing with my digital rig running through my bass amp.
It didn’t help we had it set up outside the first time
If you are in an apartment and space is limited (as well as sharing walls with neighbors) this can be worked around. Have music playing in a more central location with speakers at the back pointed away from your neighbors. If you have to turn down at a certain time maybe work around it by starting the party earlier. Or maybe not have music too loud at all and have it as background/atmosphere for people to socialise more.
Another way to deal with sound issues is to hold a silent party. Basically everyone wears bluetooth earphones (or maybe just one on an ear so people can still talk) and the music is broadcast to all of them. Everyone is listening to the same music with none of the excessive noise issues unless people yell and get loud. Or people can immerse themselves and dance in silence.
Sometimes it is good to leave letters in your neighbours mailboxes ahead of time informing them what is happening and if they have any problems to talk to the host. Better to have them ask you to turn it down than the police knocking on your door killing the party altogether. Generally if you keep your house parties to Friday or Saturday nights and don’t run them too often the neighbors won’t have much reason to complain. You may even have some attend as guests.
If the police do turn up, don’t argue with them. Asking you to turn it down isn’t an unreasonable request. And don’t be a smart arse by turning it up again after they leave, making neighbors complain again and the police return. No need to escalate a simple noise complaint into people getting arrested. Also if there are illegal drugs being used at the party (or possibly underage drinking - this is not an endorsement!) it will give them more reason to scrutinize you and your guests. I have been at a house party where this has happened before and it is not fun.
It may even be the case of you needing the police to deal with gatecrashers. Best not to get on their bad side if you can help it.
Pictured : not gatecrashers
There are many ways to play music at a party. I am going to cover this by talking about the way we cover music at the main house parties I attend now at my friend Grant (co-organizer for La Chambre) and his partner Mel’s house. A big reason why I attend a lot of house parties there is I have known Mel for around 20 years and Grant for a little over 10. Plus when they bought a house it is reasonably close to where I live. I can ride the scooter there or get an Uber for around $11-13. By comparison an Uber to the CBD is more like $35-45 depending on loading. In fact all of the photos in this article are from parties held at their house, used with their permission.
When they started holding house parties music was played through their stereo system either via a laptop or vinyl records. The laptop allowed for MP3 playlists which were easier to let play as flipping records every 15-20 minutes can get tiresome and people can forget. Silences aren’t always fun.
Later we dabbled with internet radio stations. Internet radio stations are fantastic as there are so many that focus on niche genres now. When you get bored of one, switch to another. We discovered a lot of new bands collectively listening to this stuff and talking about the music no one knew. That said stuff you don’t know isn’t always conducive to dancing.
Later than that at Grant’s 40th birthday and Mel’s birthday in 2015, I DJed using my digital rig and the bass amp (as pictured earlier). These were my first gigs going digital and it was a great practice run for myself as well as providing music to keep the party rolling. First time we set up outside, second time inside. My 100 watt bass amp may not seem powerful but it did get the police to ask us to turn down around 2-3am twice.
In the last year or so (as Grant and I started running La Chambre), he bought a vinyl record DJ set up and a PA. So we use that mostly for music at the parties now. It works out pretty cool as attendees are invited to bring some records and play music too. I tend to use it for vinyl DJ practice and before I had my own record player at home I used to test out new records there. By taking turns we not only cover a wide range of music but no one is stuck DJing most of the night on their own unless they choose to. Plus we all learn about music from genres others know more about. On top of that Grant bought some lasers, lighting and a smoke machine so we can have a club-like atmosphere.You will see this in the videos I post at the end.
Spin, spin, spin!
Some Dos and Don’ts as a Guest
First of all have some respect for the place the house party is held. This is someone’s home after all.
If something breaks (eg - a glass), tell the host so it can be cleaned up. Or if you know where the dustpan and shovel is do it yourself. Safety first.
When alcohol or drugs are involved people do sometimes go overboard. This happens more than at clubs I have found, even more so with younger people who don’t know their limits. But no one means to do it so be kind. If someone has had a few too many and is vomiting, try get them (or yourself if it is you) to a safe place for it like a toilet or outside. If there is a pile of puke tell the host or clean it up yourself if you can.
All ages parties may need adult supervision. This can be done via a responsible adult guest or a parent. Some parents may even allow alcohol at the party and will be there to make sure no one goes overboard. A lot depends on the area you live in, local liquor laws and the like. Some places will allow moderate underage drinking with a parent present, others will not.
Don’t be the guest who wears out their welcome. You want more of these house parties, not less right? Go when asked to leave, don’t put the host on the spot by asking to crash last minute.
You can’t bring me anywhere
If you didn’t bring it, don’t touch it unless you have permission from its owner. Mooching drinks or drugs is not cool. If they offer it to you that is fine though.
Don’t offer alcohol, cigarettes or drugs to underagers at a party. If a teenager wants to try a sip of something out of curiosity and they have a parent attending, ask the parent if it is ok. Again, not endorsing underage drinking or drug use here. Also it is not funny to blow marijuana smoke into underage people’s faces to try get them stoned.
If the host has made rules, go by them. If they say no illegal drugs, don’t bring them. If they say everyone out by as certain time, make sure you have a way to leave. It is not up to them to make sure you can get home unless you organize it prior to the party.
Do thank the host for having you before you leave. It is nice for them to know you had fun and appreciated the effort they put in.
I think that just about covers everything, at least everything I can think of right now. As promised - house party videos!