Sunday, November 30, 2003

"Ooh it's your birthday, congratulations" "No, who are you?"

“Hi do you remember me? I used to work in the department opposite you” said the girl whose face I immediately and incorrectly identified as belonging to Catherine O’Leary, who I lived round the corner from my parents and I haven’t seen since I was nine.

It was a bit like that on Saturday. When Simon and I decided to have a party in a pub that would hold 200 we were pessimistic about being able to fill it. So we told everyone to invite their friends, and their friends friends and their, well, you get the picture. We had no idea who would turn up.

“These are my flatmates” said the girl, pointing to a woman who stared at me as though I’d unpicked the stitching on her favourite teddy bear. Who two minutes later was poking me and massaging my shoulders. Who two minutes after that appeared to be retching over the bar.

“Dance with me”. I didn’t. Gareth later informed me, in a story which became more grotesque with each telling, that she quickly became involved in a vigorously amorous clinch with a stranger in brown slip-ons.

The multiplier effect of our laissez fair invite policy threatened to swamp the venue, the phone kept ringing, the emails kept arriving, the guests became further and further removed from the original invite list. Everyone turned up, from Internet celebrities who live in log cabins in Canada to Emma’s sister’s friend’s husband’s sister’s mates.

It was, of course, great. Faces put to names, old acquaintances rekindled. People sucked vodka out of the Ice Luge. Penny and Mike flew in from Jersey especially as a total and complete surprise. The night was punctuated by countless half conversations with everyone from my sister, to my oldest school friends to newer friends like Clare and Meg. If I stood everyone in a line, these people could have pieced together my entire life story.

There were selfish reasons for the party, we wanted to DJ. Five hours through Maceo and the Macs, Salt N Pepa, Ludacris, Collapsed Lung, Junior Jack, into an awkward hole I struggled to climb out of, back out to Finger Lickin’ breaks, and inappropriately hard techno. For the final 15 minutes we pounded out Groove is in the Heart, Crazy in Love, and Jump Around to a room full of people dancing on chairs and pulling their best shapes. Even the bar staff were bouncing around like loons. My only regret is that we didn’t have anything to play for the Finnish barmaid who asked if we had anything from her homeland. She still gave us a couple of free shots, presumably because she’d had a good night and we’d been good customers.

Eventually our extended licence expired and the lights came up, it was time to pull out cables, pack away records and lug the PA back down three flights of stairs. Suddenly we were confronted by a wall of very very drunk people. Supremely, unexpectedly drunk people, each and every person I talked to was bouncing off the walls, or slurring their speech or acting inappropriately. Probably because unknown to most people, the bar staff kept in the spirit of the party by only serving doubles.


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