Living in the USA is a bit different from living anywhere else I’ve lived. This is even more true before you turn 20, in Japan, and 21 in the US. But, one thing that is different no matter how old you are is house parties.
I’m sure most people have seen a movie from America about young kids or university students and they always include at least once scene at a house party. I’m here to tell you that all the stories you’ve seen and heard are…half true.
Yes, house parties are a thing and they happen all the time, almost every weekend. No, they don’t usually involve hundreds of people and the police. I personally have been to a decent amount of house parties, most of which happened after I was 21 so it was just a fun way to hang out with my friends.
We did worry about the police, but not because of the drinks. The US does have noise laws and if the neighbors call the cops you can be charged with a hefty fine. I think it’s around $2000.
But, that’s not something anyone stresses over. They will come by and warn you if they get a call and if you tell the neighbors you’re having a party beforeheand they’re usually pretty cool with it. We also usually invite the neighbors as a courtesy but they don’t usually come.
Now let me tell you about some of the rules and tricks to help you be a pro if you ever go to a house party in California.
Yes, there are rules. First, don’t go uninvited. You can, but you have to have the confidence to prove that you should be there. You don’t have to be invited by the host, but at least by someone who is invited so that they can introduce you. This isn’t always true as some parties are open to the public, especially in university, but it’s always a good idea to check with someone who is going.
Second, check the dress code. Most house parties have no dress code, so casual and comfortable is the way to go, but many will have a theme. I’ve been to toga parties, costume parties, game parties, decade parties (you dress in clothing from that decade like 70s, 80s, or 90s), even a prom themed party, and then holiday parties. Holiday parties usually require some kind of theme so if the party is around a holiday make sure to check.
Third, bring something to drink. Even if the host says that they will provide the drinks it’s a good idea to bring something. If only for yourself and a little extra for some other people to have. It can be a bottle of wine or a few beers. Hosting a party can get pricey if you’re buying all the food and drinks.
All the parties I went to were either BYOB (Bring your own Beer) or pitch in (You’ve gotta give the host money, around $20). It’s not difficult to get alcohol in the US as long as you’re 21, so just stop at a gas station and grab a 20 or 30 rack (box of beer) of some cheap beer and a six pack of something better for yourself and the people you like.
Fourth, listen to the host. It seems obvious, but the host will probably tell you about places you’re not allowed to go in the house and some other house rules. The general idea is to stay out of the bedrooms and private areas other than the bedroom they are probably using as a coat room. They might even take you on a tour if you ask. It’s also a good time to find out where the bathroom(s) are and if you smoke, where you should go.
Fifth, don’t touch the music. It doesn’t matter if you’re a DJ or a professional musician. If you want to change the music, just ask. This is short and sweet. I’ve seen people get kicked out of parties for doing this too much.
Sixth and finally, help clean before you go. Even if you’re not going to stay all night and party till the sun comes up. Do something that makes the next morning easier for the people left. I usually take out the trash and clean the sink a bit. If I’m there late, I’ll help them do a proper cleaning. This will make the hosts life easier and probably get you an invite to the next party as well.
House parties are a major part of life in California and all over America as a teen and adult, though as an adult we usually call them dinner parties and they are not as wild. Each party is different, but they are all a really fun way to hang out with your friends and meet new people. Just be friendly, bring something for the party and have fun. The rest will be easy.