Partying is what separates us from the animals. Sure, our furry friends are no strangers to intoxication, but even the smartest simians have yet to unlock basic disco ball technology. And while dolphins are incredibly clever, they lack the necessary thumbs for beer pong. Yes, when it comes to good times, Homo sapiens stand alone.
But that doesn't mean we should sit on our laurels. We owe it to our fuzzy, party-less cousins to make every bash count. So before you plan your next party, read on and make sure your good times are based on the most up-to-date party science.
#6. Know What You Want
Ever heard the advice "Dress for the job you want"? I don't know if it's true in the business world (I bayoneted my last tie), but it's sure-as-a-schnapps-hangover true about parties. Appearances dictate reality. And morality, as it turns out: A recent scientific study suggests that people lie more readily at work than at home. This is not because all your co-workers are sociopaths. It's because lies can be incredibly efficient, and nothing's more valuable at most offices than productivity.
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After all, what is coffee but liquid black deception?
How does this relate to partying? Well, if a few fluorescent lights, clattering keyboards, and yammering customers can flip off the honesty switch in a brain, think about what happens when that same brain enters a dingy liquor-soaked party house. If your digs look like they were decorated by Sid Vicious using the contents of his stomach, people will treat them accordingly. That "don't throw beer bottles directly on the ground" switch flips, and you wake up the next morning with a shattered-glass carpet.
Don't want anyone breaking bones in your precious living room? Don't leave a bottle of Everclear next to a pile of shot glasses and a Polaroid instant camera. Drunk people don't take direction, but they do take suggestions. A few empty trash cans, a clean carpet, and locks for all your handguns send a clear message your guests will appreciate. Leaving a bottle of tequila next to a pair of bicycles and two homemade lances sends an equally clear, much more entertaining lesson.
#5. Have a Plan for Crashers
Once upon a time I threw a party on the balcony of a hotel in Dallas. Good times were had by all, but the location made it a dicey thing from the get-go. See, this hotel happened to be the site of a giant nerd convention attended by about 20,000 people. Like most conventions, 50 percent of those people were on enough drugs to kill a small horse or a large donkey, and the other 50 percent were children. Neither of those groups are exactly ideal party guests.
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Seventeen-year-olds are good times kryptonite.
Now the lack of razor wire (I have terrible foresight) meant we couldn't forcibly keep anyone out. So how were we supposed to protect our good times from rampaging hordes of Stormtroopers and Sailor Moons?
Thankfully, when force fails, our old friend lying is always there to hold the flank. Early in the night, a tall man dressed as the Green Lantern approached me, asking if I knew where he could get "a bump." My fist-bump was not well-received, nor was my offer of liquor. This left me with only one option:
"Well, I hear things are getting pretty crazy up in the eighth floor conference room. Maybe you should check there."
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"Oh yeah, it's lousy with people throwing their hands in the air like they just don't care."
I'd heard no such thing, but it got him to leave. And for the rest of the night that's exactly what we suggested to everyone else who staggered in. That same strategy can work for you! There's a middle-ground between "kicking people out" and "suffering through bad guests." And that ground is paved with the cobblestones of deception.
#4. The Right Amount of Danger Makes People Safer
All the safest parties I've ever attended had huge fires and absolutely zero officials watching out to make sure people didn't die. No firefighters or police, just drunk people chilling around bonfires in the woods or barrel fires in some derelict oontz-y warehouse. There is a reason for this: Visible danger makes people pay more attention to everything.
You wouldn't believe how safe this guy makes all the other drivers.
Fire is the easiest danger to procure and control at a party, and it fits in most naturally with the great human pastimes of "drinking," "talking while drinking," and "listening to music while talking and drinking." In fact, fire is so good at compelling our attention that it might partly explain the evolution of human thought. The thoughtful, meditative trance that comes from flickering flame is both cheap entertainment and an easy way to reduce the risk of knife-fights.
Ever heard of the Peltzman Effect? It's the reason bicycle helmet laws don't reduce the number of dead cyclists, and also the reason people with safer cars drive like shit. The theory is that, over time, we get comfortable with a certain amount of danger. So a bunch of extra safety measures just make us act even dumber until we ratchet that fear of injury up to an acceptable level. And the Peltzman Effect holds true at parties. Give people a controlled, visible (pretty) danger and they'll take fewer risks with everything else.
"No knife-fighting tonight guys, we've got a fire to stoke."
Of course, if you're going to throw a bash with a bonfire, you'd better make sure you ...