By Nick Douglas
A company called Small Girls PR threw a prom-themed party for Styleite (a blog about style for a blog network called Abrams Media), Tumblr (a blog network but in the $billion way not the $million way like Abrams), and TIZA.com, web address tiza.com, which is a site with Sherri Hill on it, at Le Bain in New York, as a benefit for the Lower Eastside Girls Club. Wikipedia doesn’t know who Sherri Hill is, but asmallworld.net turns up a post saying “Need a contact of designer Sherri Hill! It is very very urgent and important. Please, let me know if you can help. Thanks.” I left a comment saying that she is on TIZA.com and can be reached by going to a prom-themed party.
The party is under-attended, and I wonder if that’s because one of the people throwing the party tends to favor exclusivity, or because it’s in the Meatpacking District and that can be a pain to reach in prom-wear without wearing a bulky coat that will cost three dollars to check. Probably it’s just because gauging a space’s capacity and calculating the guest list to fill it without overflowing is a bitch, and maybe it’s because some party organizers, even if they theme their parties after proms and wear prom dresses to them and score $20 earrings for all the goodie bags, are just looking to put a fun group of people together and don’t care about making the place feel “full” and “cool.” Maybe it’s because it was a benefit; I don’t know how much it cost because I was on the list. Everyone here is my age (27) or younger so I don’t think it’s a “benefit” in the way “benefit” usually means.
It’s awkward to attend a party with the explicit purpose of pegging a piece to it, but not a party piece, because the person in charge of publicity still whispers names of impressive people who attended, and you nod and you don’t even feel obligated to look them up because if you don’t already know the names then you have already lost that game so you decided to play another.
The music and party remind me of bowling parties in high school. You go bowling with all the people you’re forced to associate with and the alley serves their mediocre-for-small-town-pizza pizza and they lower the disco ball and your bowling shoes chafe and you’re pretty happy when they load you into the big white church van and you can begin to drop the friendly charade, but you’re still glad you entered that scary world, maybe because you said ten words to the long-haired singer on the worship team (whose Facebook you’ll show to your girlfriend in 12 years, glad you’re not the one having four kids with her, as if you ever had a chance), maybe because you like how the very lightest ball in the building flew when you flung it at the pins, only knocking down six each time but really consistently picking them off in a way Wii would recall, maybe because pizza is pizza, maybe because you like the Spice Girls song since your cousin explained it’s about casual sex, maybe because seeing the desperation in other people’s fun validates your struggle with expressing such fun in social gatherings. Maybe because you scored a fatality on Mortal Kombat in the game room, maybe because you were gonna steal first in the van’s backseat while your life’s first frenemy recorded it, and unconsciously you anticipated the assistant youth group leader confiscating the tape, the evidence that would get you quietly bumped off the Core Group that planned Sunday services.
This party is entirely like that, except there are no stakes at this party. I have come to the fanciest part of downtown New York (anyway the only part I know where it’s silly to imagine a poor person, with a boring scarf and, like, a flip phone), to the fanciest hotel, up a modern electronic elevator with an attendant to push the button, to look out on the gorgeous skyline of New Jersey, which I’m still new to New York but I’m supposed to not like New Jersey?
New Jersey sounds a lot like my bowling alley, just a whole state of that, where they keep the disco ball up all day. I know people who live there and still that is what that state is to me. The way that when you are little, Chinese people all wear those cymbal hats and all dates are at Italian restaurants with candles, and musical theater is The Phantom of the Opera.
The party is not pretentious. It is fun and another of the organizers asks me outside the manned elevator if I had fun and when I say yes she asks again, the real “but really” ask, and I say yes and I feel happy that the person who organized a party in a super-fancy place where people pay their tabs with diamonds and stock options in Ashton Kutcher, that this person has for a second made herself vulnerable to my opinion of her party as if I am a guy who goes around Pitchforking parties, “Well it was a 5.9, plus or minus what my girlfriend thinks of the earrings in the gift bag,” and I also think it’s very sweet when party hosts man the exits to hand out the gift bags, which really were tasteful and I did need another sturdy Whole Foods bag, I’m not being sarcastic in the least, and we never had prom at my school because we were Baptists and some of the parents didn’t like dancing and so we just had Homecoming where we performed skits and that was perfectly nice and who needs prom anyway?