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We like to party

You don’t really need much to get ready for the party. Just a jute bag would do. If you don’t have one, you could make do with a bunch of leaves. After all, the party’s called ABC — anything but clothes.

Parties are clearly not what they used to be. The young across India have found new ways to celebrate life. Rave parties — with their techno music, psychedelic rock and acid house — have often been in the news. Recently, the Mumbai police raided a party in Juhu, alleging that it was a rave party where drugs were being circulated.

But that’s just one of the many kinds of parties that have caught the fancy of the young. Parties are marked with psychedelic music, jazzy lights, funky dressing and unlimited booze.

“Simple parties are extremely boring. Themes add madness and life to our parties,” says 21-year-old Calcutta party-goer Nidhi Sharma.

Sex, alcohol and drugs are a must for some of these parties. In a Blackout or Get Out party, for instance, guests have to drink till they drop. “There is free flow of booze,” says Yash Jain, a Mumbai resident. “Each guest is served with 10 bottles of beer or 10 tequila shots one after the other. If they can still feel their limbs, more shots and more beer will be served. It’s really for those who can drink like a fish,” Jain says.

The ABC parties seek to titillate. “The fun of this party is that guests show up in leaves, trash bags or jute sacks. The idea is to get wild and show off,” says Delhi-based English honours student Tarun Jaiswal.

In some theme parties, attire is the focus. Six months ago, Jaiswal went to a party which centred on the theme Metro Stations in London. Guests had to dress up as personalities linked to the stations — Sherlock Holmes to mark Baker Street, Queen Victoria to commemorate the Mansion House Tube station, close to Victoria Street, and so on. “It was innovative and fun,” says Jaiswal.

The other in party for the season is the foam party, points out model Adam Bedi. “Big machines produce foam and it is like having a bubble bath. The lights go off and then there is dancing to trance music. After a few minutes, everyone is soaking wet,” he laughs.

Bedi’s fashion choreographer wife Nisha Harale has attended neon parties, where guests have to come dressed in neon colours. “Food is served in neon plates and faces are painted and tattoos drawn in different colours so that they glow in the dark,” she says.

The young have always liked to party, but simple get-togethers seemed to have morphed into elaborate affairs, some even organised by event managers.

“Every time, the party has to look different. That’s the biggest challenge for us,” says 18-year-old party promoter Kunal Singh Chauhan who founded Stonehenge Productions three years ago in Pune to organise theme parties.

These parties, he adds, can be organised on a budget of Rs 50,000 to Rs 1 lakh. “Our turnover from each party is Rs 72,000 to Rs 2 lakh,” he says.

The organisers set the theme and sometimes provide accessories, such as a Hawaiian hibiscus clip for a Hawaiian party, a pirate moustache and beard for a pirate party, and a half mask for a Batman party.

Guests at these parties may not know the other invitees — sometimes even the host is not known. The message spreads through social media sites. The venues differ from city to city. In Delhi, for instance, isolated farmhouses on the outskirts are the preferred spots. “One can party all night if it’s held at someone’s house. Chances of getting identified at a pub are also higher, so it’s better to play safe and have unlimited drugs at home,” says Delhi college student Naina Sehgal.

Drugs are often the leit motif of such parties. The BYOB (bring your own bottle) party is now passť. These days, the young go for BYODs (bring your own drug). “Booze, drugs and sex are the three things which people get to do easily in such parties,” says a Delhi-based entre- preneur.

As the party progresses, the music is upped and the guests get more uninhibited. “The idea is to get more sexual, sloppy, inappropriate — and funny. Often, clothes will come off and people indulge in sex too. So if you’re not making out, going to these parties is a waste,” warns Mumbai-based Sheetal Sharma.

Not surprisingly, sociologists and counsellors are wary of the young Indian’s favourite pastime. “Rich Indians are copying the West. It shows their desperation to become someone that they are not. They think that these parties would put them high on the social ladder. It’s a clever tactic to be away from the real world,” observes sociologist Shiv Visvanathan.

Some point out that for the young — working hard and earning well — parties act as stress busters. “With such work pressure, these young ambitious workaholic neo-rich Indians have no social life. These parties help them escape social isolation temporarily,” says Delhi-based psychiatrist Rajat Mitra. “There is a feel-good factor associated with these parties because of the high use of spirits.”

Administrators often take a stern view of the youth’s activities. The Goa police conducted 19 party raids last year. The police say drug dealers target the rich and elite at these rave parties. “Foreign drug dealers have been arrested for peddling drugs at rave parties,” a Goa police official stresses.

A recent article in the Indian Journal of Medical Research also states that India’s huge teenage population is being targeted by foreign drug peddlers. “Not all ravers use drugs; however, many illicit drugs are available at raves and are used liberally to enhance the ‘vibe’,” says the 2011 review.

But party animals believe there is nothing wrong in being a part of parties that are vastly different from the ones their parents threw or attended. “One has to understand that we have come of age,” says actress Bobby Darling. “If we can afford to buy SUVs and make multiple foreign trips every year, why can’t we have better adult parties? There is no harm in experimenting.”

You lose nothing, the party lovers chorus. Nothing but your consciousness, the warier ones warn.

Party Zone

ABC: Or Anything But Clothes. Guests come dressed in leaves or jute sacking
Blackout or Get Out: You drink till you drop
Foam party: Machines dispense foam and it’s like having a bubble bath and dancing at the same time
Neon party: Guests come in neon-coloured clothes, food served in neon plates and there are neon lights all around
BYOD: Or Bring Your Own Drugs. The name says it all. More often than not, guests get seriously sexual.

(Some names have been changed to protect identities)