Wednesday, 27 October 2010

The politics of fancy dress

Do I love fancy dress? Yes. Am I tired of it? Also yes.

Maybe I'm being a show-off - "oh GOD I've got too many fancy dress parties to go to, too many friends, too much FUN, it's a nightmare!!!". But seriously, everyone in Wellington knows someone who knows someone, and the people of Wellington LOVE fancy dress parties. So if you live in Wellington for any length of time, chances are you'll get invited to a fancy dress party.

The thing is, I reckon there's about 1 or more every month of the year. Okay, no-one's pointing a gun at my head to go, but they are with/through close friends and they are the kind of thing people ask about if you don't go along. And while fancy dress is fun, pressure isn't.

Don't get me wrong. I went to a "B" party this year as a Bat - I spent thinking-time, crafting-time and money getting it together - didn't take too long, looked pretty cool, job done. Had a great time. There've been a couple of others this year I think, including a safari-themed stag party day (that really was a lot of fun). And as for the denim + fanny packs + visors night, who'd pass up an opportunity like that?

It just seems like whenever someone has a party, it has to have a fancy dress theme, and everyone has to turn up in fancy dress, on pain of death! Or pain of embarrassment or something. And look, sometimes I want to go to a party just wearing what I want. Because people can have fun wearing anything (or nothing?).

Really, don't get me wrong. Whoever is holding the party - well, it's their party, they can pick whatever theme they want, I'm not stopping them. And sure, I understand that if you use the dreaded word "optional", then a lot of people start muttering "oh I can't be bothered", then "nah neither can I" and next thing you know, you've got a whole fancy dress party with no-one dressed up. So I see why it's tempting to put on a bit of pressure.

But this is Wellington, and as I said, people love fancy dress. Even with cynics like me getting a bit tired and bored of it, you'll still get a bucketload of people ignoring the word "optional" and wearing a costume come rain hail or shine.

Halloween is here. And yes, there's a party coming up this weekend. It looks pretty good and there's some pretty cool people I know going. Unfortunately I've been told "everyone MUST dress up", which I think is just pressure that people don't need and quite off-putting. Is this party going to suck unless everyone's got plastic fangs or a zombie mask? Are people really not capable of having fun without props reminding them what time of year it is? Is this America?

So, call me a grumpy old fart but I wasn't thinking about dressing up for it, and with that kind of warning I certainly don't feel like it.

I'm interested to see what happens. Will I be thrown out? Will my friends there see me being carried out and say "hey Jez, sorry man but it's their party and you didn't play by the rules, did you?" (Because every party has rules!) Maybe everyone will just do the traditional British/New Zealand thing of glaring and trying to make me feel embarrassed?

Or maybe, just maybe, people might say "oh yeah, no worries, let's drink and dance like idiots!" Because whether it's fancy dress or not, that is what parties are all about.

If you've got the energy and/or time and/or money to dress up every month in fancy dress for a party, good on ya. That's some serious dedication and I'm impressed. I just find it a bit more special when it's not so frequent, so regular, and without the added social pressure.

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