This past weekend I attended a house party, hosted by my treasured friends and old neighbours from when I lived in Marina da Gama. As a teenager I never really enjoyed house parties, namely because I felt so awkward in my own skin which is part of the age group I guess. When you arrive at a house party, one feels weird as you mingle with randoms you don’t really know and help yourself to drinks out of cooler boxes or homemade punch that looks like murky bath water, tastes like raspberry juice mixed with alcohol and has a few bruised grapes bobbing on the surface. The snacks are always stale and dipping corn chips into empty dip containers, marred with colorants from nik naks is hardly appealing.
The house parties hosted by these particular friends (Helen and Michael Lee) are very different. For one, we are all ALLOT older and by now we’ve developed social skills or so one hopes. The theme for the evening was Mexican Christmas in July which too me was more like the “Ministry of Sound in their Lounge”. Helen and Michael have a great mix of friends, all roughly the same age group, very down to earth and great fun. The mix is so good that as you arrive you feel comfortable within seconds as acquaintances approach you with warm greetings sparking animated conversations thereafter. Helen is an expert caterer so the canapés, dinner and dessert are always sublime as well as coordinated with expert precision in terms of timing and appeal. The party costumes were great, everyone made an outstanding and innovative effort (apart from myself). I’m too vain to walk around in fancy dress (seriously). But I should have hired at least a sombrero because that’s all it took to look the part for this great party.
The best part for me is always the dancing. Michael is quite possibly a suppressed DJ. We share the same taste in music and I remember hearing him arriving home from work and always appreciating the dance tunes booming from his car as he parked next door. He prepared an excellent play list (I’d like to think especially for me) and loaded all the songs onto the Xbox to ensure maximum automation for the duration of the evening but sadly to include those long uncomfortable breaks of silence as one tune ends before the other begins. The silence I now know was intended to create anticipation for the next exceptional tune to kick in, giving all the over 40’s much needed time to rest their ‘tickers’. Michael’s attention to detail is remarkable. Not only was the playlist well balanced but he somehow had these cool retro images transitioning on the wide screen to create a feel of how it is in the clubs. The only thing missing was smoke machines, but we all know how suffocating and toxic they can get so they weren’t missed.
As the tunes started getting more hard core, I joined with the group and started thrashing with the over 40 crowd. Man but can they dance. Everyone was having such a great time. Bobbing about, grooving, getting down, dancing, boogie, bopping etc. For some songs it became a disco frenzy for others it was just personal expression. My older brother Tony (who is not a facebooker, thank heavens) decided to do a bit of barn dancing which was ever so embarrassing and that’s when I made a quick exit to the restroom and then to the kitchen for an energy feast. Eventually those who needed to leave early did which left the old-timers and serious party revellers to enjoy the evening to its max. The Christmas tree was up and there were tea lights in candle holders to create colourful yet subdued lighting in the lounge. As I grooved with the other revellers I remember thinking that this party was in fact better than any time I had been to the Ministry of Sound, which is one of London’s top night clubs. House parties are better than clubs for a number of reasons. Less crowds, no queuing for the loo, easy access to drinks and food, usually people you know, no cover charge, no bouncers and usually access to the DJ without issue. The only thing house parties lack would be those cool dance cages. Those rock! I asked Michael if he’d hire in a dance cage for his next party and he laughed saying he’d do his best. He may regret his promise when the ceiling caves in but it’ll be worth the effort.
The best part of this evening was to watch each individual enjoying themselves within their own realm. There were no pretences with no posing, just authenticity. It was watching adults at play and in playing I could see that music, dance along with good camaraderie and spirit is a must for adult stress release. Many times that evening I witnessed various individuals in stitches of laughter (not drug or alcohol induced) just down to earth good fun. It was in the sunken depths of this lounge that I had this overwhelming feeling to try something I’ve always wanted to do but never had the guts to. I always thought it would be frowned upon because it’s totally out of character for me. A stage dive! I love watching people stage dive, it looks totally freeing, slightly rebellious and usually results in being dragged off by police. One of the tunes was so euphoric that I couldn’t help myself so did just that! I launched myself arms open (and perfectly sober) from the top of the couch and landed gracefully using parabat landing technique on the floor a few metres away. Without a scratch or bruise I stood up smiling, grateful that I was wearing jeans and not a skirt. I remember clearly, my brothers look of surprise, horror and shock as he saw what I was about to do and then couldn’t quite comprehend that I would do what he knew I intended to do (if that makes sense). Within seconds it was over and we continued as though nothing had transpired.
To me the significance meant far more. It was another opportunity to push the boundaries of what society has implemented as acceptable boundaries and the expectations that we have of each other, in terms of stereo typical and appropriate behaviour. With everything that we do, so often we are doing it to appease others, fit in with a certain type of character, stay on the good side and out of danger zone. This can often result in disappointment within ourselves, because we prevent ourselves from meeting our full potential by not doing things, because we convince ourselves that we aren’t allowed too. I am beginning to believe and see the positive results from pushing all of these boundaries and challenging everything in the way I think within myself and the world around me. There are some incredible experiences in life that we all want to try but don’t, because we worry what others may think. Quite often the experiences that we really want to have become our fears and these fears keep haunting us, until we face them and do them. Once you’ve done it the results may have consequences but usually positive. The more fears I face the more confident I become. The secret to facing certain fears is to experience it with those who create a safe zone (comfort blanket) in which to try something new. Michael, Helen and their wonderful friends created the perfect safety zone for me to try my first stage dive. Now that I’ve enjoyed the practice run I look forward to flying of a stage big time!
Push yourself to where you feel most uncomfortable and that’s where your greatest potential lies.
Written and prepared for by Odette Butcher, Chief Experience Officer, Celestial Gift Experiences