A FRIEND RECENTLY hosted a 16th birthday party at her home. Planning was military. There would be no alcohol and she and her husband hired three burly body guards to check guests at the front entrance.
Several adults were also on hand to peruse the periphery of the property checking for opportunistic gate crashers.
The costume party was by invitation only and sixty young guests were expected.
The hosts admit to being control freaks, so they covered every eventuality. The police were informed about the party beforehand, as were all the neighbours in the quiet, upmarket Brisbane street.
What could possibly go wrong? Nothing did, for a while. The teens enjoyed dancing and enjoying each other’s company, seemingly content to enjoy the hired disc jockey’s music and act like 16-year-olds. Things turned rather suddenly.
At around 10pm, the first fleet of taxis arrived and out spilled teenagers – many of them with bottles of alcohol and clearly under the influence.
By now there were around 60 imposters milling around the street. Next, they began scaling the fence of a neighbour’s yard to try and gain access. Another neighbour phoned to say he’d seen young men and women streaming along the road from the nearby train station. A few gatecrashers had been expected, but certainly not on this scale.
After a brief deliberation, the parents did the most sensible thing they could under the circumstances and much to the devastation of their teen, shut down the party. In the aftermath, they found ‘around $300 worth of alcohol’ – bottles were hidden in bushes and much of it confiscated from guests who were implicitly told ‘no alcohol’.
My friend even discovered two bottles of vanilla essence smuggled inside by invited guests. “How desperate is that?” she asked, dumb-founded.
So what went wrong? How did all these teens know about the party if it was closed and by invitation only?
It seems that no matter what extremes they went to in order to create a controlled environment, imposters came. The reason, my friend discovered, was simple – with the help of modern technology, guests could invite all their friends within minutes of arriving at the party. Those friends in turn messaged their friends who in turn sent messages to their friends – and so it snow-balled.
As a mother of three – two of whom are teens, the tale of this party put me off for life. I informed the family that sorry, parties (unless associated with tea and cake), were forever banned in our household.
I mentioned this fact to another friend – one who is a seasoned host of several teen parties.
She reminded me that all celebrations had progressed without incident. The most recent was her son’s 18th birthday party. There was alcohol; there were 60 invited guests and no bouncers – just a few parents and the hosts. Her son even invited his friends via Facebook.
“They had a great party and at 12pm, everyone was ready to go home,” said my friend.
So what was her secret?
“We were fortunate – we never had any problems and I can only put that down to my son’s friends – if you can’t trust the friends, don’t hold the party.”
Perhaps there is a faint glimmer of hope for my deprived teens – am quite sure we could rustle up a deployment of army reservists just in case …