Movies teach us how to party. Think about it: How many teen movies — almost all of which inevitably end in some kind of dance or parents-out-of-town blowout — did you watch before you were actually old enough to go to a high-school party? From sophisticated dinner gatherings to all-night ragers, we’ve all fantasized about scoring an invite to one of the glamorous parties we’ve seen on the big screen. With summer in full swing and theme ideas for our own future fêtes in mind, we asked the experts in Flavorpill’s extended family to tell us which celluloid party they’d most like to have attended. Their picks, and ours, are after the jump.
As Alexandria Gamlin points out, the entirety of House Party “is about the throwing the most epic, illegal, banging house party of the school’s history.” She’s partial to the dance-off scene where Kid ‘n Play perform the Funky Charleston — aka the Kid ‘n Play Kickstep. “I’ve never been to any house party where at some point, someone didn’t try to start up this dance,” she writes. “It lives in infamy, and usually I’m the one trying to start it.”
Russ Marshalek writes: “‘Most of all, I love Manchester. The crumbling warehouses, the railway arches, the cheap, abundant drugs,’ says Steve Coogan’s Tony Wilson as he closes the book on The Hacienda, the legendary club that birthed so much of music (Joy Division, New Order, rave/DJ culture in general). At least in the film version of The Hacienda’s final night, it’s that nod to excess that looks so gorgeous: at the peak of the night, as Wilson implores the crowd to pillage, rob and steal from the very club that had become the second home to many in that very crowd, it’s a weird, euphoric moment (with, of course, a perfect soundtrack). How totally fitting. Granted, the real event was probably nothing at all like that.”
It’s the first day of summer, 1976, and the kids at Austin, TX’s Lee High School are celebrating with a party any teenager would kill to attend: it’s under the stars at the Moontower, with ample beer and weed, the promise of summer romance, and a stoner guy who has a lot to say about George Washington. Just make sure Parker Posey doesn’t “air raid” you!
“It’s always fun to get away from camp, even for an hour.” As Isis Madrid points out, this is doubly true “when that fun-filled hour packs a punch full of ice cream, french fries, and All-American crack dens! This is especially exciting with the recent news from director David Wain of a possible prequel in the works. If this turns out to be true, I’m hitching a ride to set with the first pick up truck I see.”
Michael Orell reminisces: “This super-American party has something for everyone (unless you’re black!) and more clichéd archetypes than a Gay Pride parade. I would go for the people watching and Seth Green’s yellow goggles, for which a Google search of their brand name just ate up 10 minutes of my day!”
We weren’t alive to experience the ’60s, but we have a feeling this one scene sums the era up pretty well. It’s all good until it isn’t — but even then it’s pretty good.
Jane McCarthy would have liked to be on the guest list for “the evening garden party in the enchanting Italian villa in Bertolucci’s Stealing Beauty, particularly if I get to go back and be a virgin again on the verge of deflowerment like Liv Tyler is in that film.”
Who could forget the fateful “Val Party”? Lauren Epistein reminds us: “Murray taught us that shaving his head is about keeping it real. We all learned to take a lap before committing to a location. And that’s before we even dueted with Elton on ‘Rollin’ with the Homies.’ Cher, Tai and Dionne might hate the valley, but it looks so very very.”
Karin E. Baker sets the scene: “Bumbling film extra Peter Sellers is accidentally invited to a Hollywood studio head’s fancy party. A servant is drunk and starts a brawl, Sellers accidentally catapults his Cornish game hen across the room where it gets impaled on a guest’s tiara, a bunch of hippies bring in a baby elephant, the house fills with bubbles, Sellars drops a priceless painting in a toilet and everyone dances like it’s 1968 (which it was).”
One of many debaucherous, polysexual fêtes at artsy Camden College in this adaptation of the Bret Easton Ellis novel, The Edge of the World Party is an outdoor celebration that seems kind of like Burning Man, without all that getting-heatstroke-in-the-desert nonsense. Don’t confuse it with The End of the World Party, the Christmastime shindig where everything goes to shit. Watch the scene here.
“The gang of guys show up at this stuffy party, put on Le Tigre, and start moshing in the living room,” writes Patrick Letterii. “The girl who is having the party turns off the music, at which point one of the guys turns the music right back on and people start running around again. It’s a great party scene (and you can watch it on Netflix Watch Instantly!)”
“I hate to admit it but…the birthday party scene in Marie Antoinette,” writes Danielle Brock. “It’s just so lush to look at. It’s like magically replenishing party. Never a shortage of, erm, supplies. Also, whenever I stay out until the sun rises, I usually go home looking awful — I’m exhausted, usually grumpy or hungover by that point. It’s not really a very glamorous thing to do. I want to go to a party where I can stay out until the sun rises and still look perfectly put together and sober and baggy-eyed-free at six a.m.”
We’re down for any Brooklyn block party, but one that features a reunited Fugees, along with Kanye West, Erykah Badu, The Roots, dead prez, and a ton of other great hip-hop artists is in a class by itself. What depresses us about this particular party-on-film is that it actually happened in Bed-Stuy during the summer of 2004. And we missed it.
“Nothing is more attractive than desperation,” writes Michael Orell, “and the wannabe actresses here have got it in spades. Combine that with costumed women in glass terrariums, glitter, drugs, noir, and Val Kilmer? That’s the party we all joke about afterwards, but are secretly intimidated every second we’re there.”
As Caroline Stanley points out, you know you’re at the swankiest event of all time when even the act of getting a drink spilled on you looks glamorous. “Everything about this decadent party has been carefully orchestrated by Gatsby specifically for Daisy’s benefit, and yet there’s something incredibly wild and orgiastic about it too. Basically, it’s the best of both worlds. Also: If you can watch this scene without wanting to do dance the Charleston, then you have no soul.”
Now this is commitment: leaving the hospital to throw a hospital-themed party. Perhaps we shouldn’t have been so attracted to an illness-themed gathering organized by a real-life killer (Party Monster is based on the rise and fall of early-’90s New York clubland ringmaster and convicted murderer Michael Alig) — but is it our fault that it looks like so much fun? (Hey, at least it’s better than the aborted party-in-a-truck from earlier in the film.)
“Some friends of mine and I plan to recreate the Ewok party in some remote redwood grove in Marin County this summer,” says Christina Richards. “We’re talkin’ tiki lamps, feasting, and dancing. Oh, and a rendition of the ‘Yub Nub’ song.”
Natasha Blank would have liked to witness “the scene where Romeo and friends sneak into the Capulets’ party — but I’d really only want to experience it through Romeo’s tweaked-out eyes. Bigger wigs, more glitter, and cross-dressing party crashers at their finest.”
Sign Katherine McMahan up for Labyrinth‘s goblin masquerade, where pearls hang from the ceiling and Jennifer Connelly falls prey to David Bowie’s evil charms. (Who could blame her?) Watch the scene here.
There are a lot of great parties in Todd Haynes’s glam-rock fantasy Velvet Goldmine (not least the Death of Glitter show, where Placebo cover T. Rex’s “20th Century Boy”), but we’ve always been most charmed by the glamorous New Year’s Eve shindig, where Brian Slade meets his wife-to-be, Mandy. The end of the ’60s marks the beginning of a new era, and the future Ms. Slade greets it in a silver chainmail sheath dress that we seriously covet.
“Oh, I know it’s cheesy,” Lauren Epstein admits, “but I always dreamed of being at the New Years Eve party in When Harry Met Sally. Balloons fall from the ceiling, excellent vintage tunes play, and it’s an accessible real-adult party.”
Kathleen Massara takes us back to yet another memorable December 31st: “It’s New Year’s Eve in the East Village and the year is 1981. Martha Plimpton’s character is so exasperated and depressed when it looks as if none of her friends are coming to her party that she ends up drinking alone and then passing out in her bed. While she’s completely zonked, people start filing in and having a terrific time — including her idol, Elvis Costello. She awakes to find photos (Polaroids, of course) showing how awesome the party was. Dave Chappelle narrates the scene. Did I mention Courtney Love is in the film, as well as Christina Ricci’s pre-anorexia baby face?”
If you must go to a frat party, Sascha Lewis suggests the famous toga bash from Animal House. Just don’t be surprised, teens, when you get to college and the real thing is not so much John Belushi being awesome as alcohol-poisoned lacrosse players groping freshman girls and peeing in the corner.
When we were in junior high in the mid-’90s, we wanted nothing more than to be those awesomely alternative teenage record-store clerks. But we would have settled for a spot in the crowd at the end, when beautiful freaks from all over town converge to “damn The Man, save the Empire.” Gina and Berko rock out on the roof, everybody dances, young people actually pay money for music — and scrappy weirdos win out over the forces of corporatism and greed. It’s perfect… well, not entirely perfect. Watch the scene here.
Paul Salfen breaks it down: “Strippers, a coke-snorting donkey, and Tom Hanks? Now that’s a party!”