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Trackstars

Alexandros Tsathas on the scourge of house parties

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House parties are the best type of party. For party patrons, that is. They’ve a vibe that’s just the right amount of casual, guests that are just the right amount of familiar, and a concern for the responsible service of alcohol that’s just the right amount of absent.

For party proprietors though, house parties are a dastardly source of angst. In these heady Facebook times, it’s lore that only half of those who clicked ‘attending’ will actually do so – only those categorically bereft of social intelligence draw attention to their imminent absence by clicking ‘interested’. And once you’ve got the ungrateful bastards there, you’ve got to worry about them going through your pantry, upchucking on your sofa and turning your bathroom into a boggy archipelago.

Doubtless though, house parties’ greatest scourge are trackstars.

At the beginning of the night, sensibilities contained by sobriety, trackstars lie dormant. It’s around 10 o’clock that they emerge – by then, their inhibitions have been lubricated sufficiently to escape their snug limbic quarters.

Their arrival is heralded by the clunk, rip, static, and then clunk again of their wrenching the auxiliary jack from the host’s laptop to connect their iPhone. What follows is 15 seconds of silence, then, at a grossly miscalculated volume, methamphetamine-Mario Kart fusion, Scandinavian mass-murderer Youtube manifesto theme song, or chewy acoustic vibes cooked up by an obscure sibling trio somewhere down Moruya way.

All it takes is one, and once it’s happened, there’s no going back. Trackstars try and outdo trackstars. It’s as if, by virtue of ripping out another’s device and replacing it with their own, they suppose they’ve made a definitive statement about the iPhone owners’ relative position in some grand melodic hierarchy.

Then there’s the resentment that grows between trackstars, like a self-limiting yeast. It inevitably stems from the premature termination of one trackstar’s track by another trackstar. The usurper will spin their preferred tune, but it in turn will be terminated even more prematurely by the preceding phonic shah. It’s then a race to the bottom, each trackstar’s tune cut shorter and shorter until the tension erupts in the heated halitotic haze nobody needs.

So how to deal with them? As with any infection, the best cure is prevention. Should the host’s playback device be a laptop, it should be folded close; should it be an iPhone, locked with a secure passcode. As an additional precaution, the auxiliary cord should be fastened to the playback device with gaffer tape in a ‘x’-shape configuration: an elegant solution for tampering deterrence.

But what if does get to the stage where the ‘host’ is invaded? As the host, overreact. Act as though you perceive their interference to be an indictment of your good community standing. Drop f-bombs for effect, play up your level of intoxication, and swear on your on children’s grave that when you find the individual responsible, you’ll crucify them.

And what if you’re at a house party and you ain’t diggin’ the tunes? You wouldn’t change the decorations, you wouldn’t amend the guest list and you wouldn’t alter the menu – so don’t change the music.