Culture //

When the music’s over turn out the lights

Ruminating on the unexpected nostalgia.

As someone who suffers from social anxiety, I didn’t think I’d miss house parties as much as I do.

Arriving was always the most difficult part. Being seen and noticed made me want to cower inside myself and hide. Nervous energy would race around my body like electricity, my palms trembling as breathing got harder every second. Once, I sat at a bus stop across the street from a party for half an hour before I could muster up enough courage to walk in..

Those parties felt like another world to me. A different plane of existence. 

I rarely got drunk enough to cause a scene, and casual hookup culture definitely wasn’t for me, but I still managed to blend into the chilled-out scene. Depending on the occasion, I’d either attempt to dress up or chuck on an outfit that made me feel like more of a badass. 

We’re coming up to three months of lockdown, and the humble houseparty is still out of sight. I’ve been feeling increasingly drained and despondent, and  I’ve been uncharacteristically longing for a time where a house filled with people, music, and generally good vibes allowed me to forget all the troubles of the world outside. As introverted as I am, it felt nice to feel like I was a part of something.

The interactions I’ve had in the crowded, narrow rooms and corridors of house parties couldn’t be replicated anywhere else on earth. Boozy, late-night conversation about urban infrastructure with ABBA’s Dancing Queen blasting through the speakers; consoling a crying friend in a stranger’s bathroom, trusting that neither of us would speak of the conversation again. I’ve been reminiscing about all these moments with a sense of whimsical fondness.

I miss the euphoria, the singing and dancing, arms slung around shoulders, laughter mingling with noughties pop in the air. I miss catching up on small-talk with acquaintances I’d see a handful of times a year. But more than anything, I miss the fact that, within the realm of the party, I could switch off all my ruminations about the past and the future and just enjoy living in that moment.

Maybe I’m putting too much value on something so simple, but as someone who felt they would never be able to inhabit that kind of space, remembering this is proof that I have. And I will.

I don’t know what the post-COVID party is going to look like, but I look forward to the night I can dive into it once again.