Ethnographic Essay: a Study of the College Party Scene

Topics: Fuck, Parties, Profanity Pages: 8 (3375 words) Published: March 10, 2013
Let’s Get Fucked Up and Die

I am only now beginning to enter my sophomore year at college but there has always one part of it that has been especially exciting, the parties. Yes, those glorious nights where you can escape from the nagging of your parents, procrastinate on some of that homework, or maybe even meet someone special. Any average college student could tell you that the craziest parties always happen on Thirsty Thursdays. Once that day of the week comes around students start to forget the stresses of their week and go out to try and have some fun, sometimes too much fun. Many great memories are made at parties, some are good others seem to be the worst times of your life. But what drives a college student to party so hard? Is it s lack of confidence, a desire to fit in, just to let loose, or one of the other many possibilities? In this essay I reflect upon a few of the many parties I attended this past semester and studied the party goers so i could perhaps understand the drive to get so out of hand. During the course of composing my field notes, which I have blended into my essay, I gathered experiences as both an insider and an outsider to the environment to search for the answer to some of my questions.

The first set of field notes that were taken started smooth and simple. The focus was directed towards place and space. So I went out each thursday trying to pick up on how much the atmosphere and environment contributes to legitimate parties, and made some interesting discoveries.

On February 24th at midnight I walk into a house filled with many of my fellow students. The air is thick with the scent of smoke from both illegal and legal substances. I approach a table surrounded by people all playing a game by throwing a ping pong balls into red plastic solo cups filled with a piss colored substance, it smells stale and bitter, beer. The room that contains this table is full of chatter from incoherent voices. I observe all of this while leaning on a fridge thats surface is cold and hard. The fridge opens and a passerby hands me a can of beer.

I begin to think about why and how all of these people figured out about this place and what they are all trying to accomplish here tonight. Normally events like this are being thrown at my place but for some reason at this moment all I can be truly happy about is the fact that this is not my home. More people are starting to flow into the cozy little apartment. I watch as more and more alcohol comes poring into the fridge I lean on, then out of that fridge, into these peoples blood streams. I wonder what wold happen if these college students parents were to walk through the door next, or worse the cops? Why do they choose to take such risks every week? This only forces me to then question what I am doing here.

My thoughts are pulled from past experiences in scenes very similar to the one I am experiencing at this moment. That was all before I knew what it felt like to have your party get busted by the police in your own home. Now when I see this place I begin to imagine everyone with a beer in their hand in handcuffs and suddenly I realize this place becomes a secret from the outside world. People gathering in a central location to collectively commit multiple crimes. It all seems so wrong and irresponsible but at the same time it is a very interesting display of a kind of social and political rebellion. It makes me feel guilty but also I do not feel in the wrong for some reason, almost like I have earned this experience.

On March 3rd at 11 p.m. I arrive at the same building that I sat in the week before and observed the party goers. I walk past rooms each filled with what appears to be different kinds of partyers. The first room is full of people passing around a blunt that is filled with marijuana. Smoke fills the room and seems to replace any oxygen in the air. The second room contains a larger amount of people all cramped...
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