Animal House had pitched my friend Double-D into a strange melancholy. He began longing for the old-time parties of fraternity days. His mission became -- 10 years after attending his last "real" fraternity party -- to throw the post-graduate professional equivalent of the fraternity blast.
Double-D thought throughout the winter. He plotted, researched and formed a committee which met late into the night a couple of times each month.
In the spring Double-D and the whole committee, frazzled by cabin fever from the Great Snows of '79, met in emergency session.
He called for committee reports in a week, and he got them. The following party plan was developed:
The party would be held in a private community hall in suburban Virginia. All the beer and/or wine people cared to consume for $5 per head. Popcorn, potato chips, pretzels, and low lights . . . all provided. Of course, fraternity songs would be encouraged.
And there would be music.
Better than a live band. Music, nonstop, complete with light show and loud enough to challenge any teen-ager's ears. Music from the '60s, sprinkled with sounds of today, provided by a disc jockey who works for a professional sound system that caters parties.
We began inviting people the next day. One committee member invited everyone in the school he teaches at. Double-D invited a group of fraternity brothers and some fellow softball players in the area. Old friends, new friends and soon-to-be friends were invited.
The Greek Gods of Partying smiled on the event.
It was a party that jettisoned all of the hundred or so people back to college days. They consumed over 20 cases of beer and several gallons of wine. They wore fraternity sweatshirts and cut-offs, T-shirts and blue jeans.
A lot of old dances were revived and a few new ones invented.
Double-D smiled broadly at the end of the night. He had turned back the hands of time. Virtually everyone made the same request as they left feeling happier, younger: "Let us know when you throw the next one!"
We will, and it will be easier now that we know these ingredients for success:
Community Hall -- A must. Gets people out of the "home" environment; Check with local homeowners associations for availability. Expect to pay $50 to $100 rental for an evening.
Beverages -- Beer and wine are fraternity party staples. Buy the beer by the case rather than by the keg -- it's cheaper, less hassle, eliminates waiting in line and you can always sell off the extra cases, as we did, to a softball team. Ice the beer down in large, plastic-lined trashcans. Buy a variety of wine -- white, rose, and red. Buy a small amount of a basic canned soft drink.
Music -- Don't scrimp on this, since music is often the party maker or breaker. There are a number of sound systems around complete with deejay, and they'll work for $100 to $200 for the night. Get one that provides a light show (helps disguise some of those awkard movements on the dance floor) and lets you submit in advance a list of some of the music you want provided.
Invitations -- Over-invite: Remember fraternity parties are definitely "the-more-the-merrier" types of gatherings. Charge what you need to cover expenses (we wound up a little bit short, a fee absorbed by the committee members).
Sideshows -- Several will be provided without any encouragement if things are going right, but you might push fraternity songs and a dance contest or two.