Parties. I remember them fondly, a time when I could stay awake past ten o’clock. Hell, I didn’t even go out until 11:00 p.m. back in the day (the kids still say “back in the day,” right?). My good buddy Jeff and I loved music. He’d host what he called a “soiree” which is a fancy, French word for a private house party held at night, usually involving music or dance. As teenagers, we both washed dishes at a steakhouse. To prepare for the soiree, we’d find the twenty-one year old short order cook at the end of his shift. Jeff would give the guy five bucks to buy us a case of I.C. Light beer for $3.99 and I’d bum one smoke off of every other person working that night so we’d have cigarettes. Jeff and I would then go back to his mom’s house with the beer, cigarettes and a room full of vinyl. Jeff’s mom was a nurse and worked nights and his sister had a social life, meaning we had the entire place to ourselves. We’d drag the old hi-fi speakers up from the basement, strip the insulation from the end of the wires and ram them into the output on the back of the amplifier. Jeff would position the turntable so that it was between us and we’d start going through the record collection, looking for great songs to play. We’d sit there all night, drinking and smoking while listening to everything from the Ohio Players to Led Zeppelin to Metallica. No, we weren’t gay lovers (not that there’s anything wrong with that). You see, for us, the music was the party. Trading cut for cut from that old vinyl collection was exciting and it sounded better the more beer we drank. When we couldn’t stay up any longer, we’d crash on the living room floor. No drunk driving, date rape or destructive behavior. I’m not advocating underage drinking at house parties. My point is that the music was the reason for it all. We partied because of the music, not the other way around. We listened and everything else was gravy.
What I see today is music as a distraction, or more accurately, an ornament. People put music on at a social gathering to make sure they don’t have to suffer through an awkward silence. Music is just there, like the furnace or the creepy guy from apartment 3c.
I think it’s time for a soiree. Now where the hell did I put my Iron Maiden records?
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