PARTIES: PAST VS. TODAY


Photo by Kyle Crawford


Q: What were typical things that you would do at a party?

Will Ellery: These are hard questions to answer, because, … I don’t think it was necessarily typical.  It really depended on who you were with, what your group of friends was; I mean, they were groups of friends…, where they would be at a pool party, and everybody would be there and most of the time there would be a lot of guys that would get together and play basketball and do whatever in an evening.

Maddie Ellery: I remember a party I went to this summer with a friend of mine, who lives down the street.  We ordered pizza, we had a giant line of food, there was music; we setup games in the backyard, and we set up music in the house, and a hammock, and we all went swimming in the lake and that was pretty much it.

Q: How do you think parties have changed from your time to hers?

W: I suspect they’re much different.  Groups are a lot smaller.  I guess more exclusive, meaning that everybody knows who everybody is, it seems.  I also think there’s probably a little more “looking over your shoulder” awareness because of social media than there used to be.  But part of the difference was then, too, a lot of times events kinda had to be planned because there wasn’t a way to get word out to people who were gathering anywhere. There were no cell phones … There were computers certainly, but people didn’t live on them. So it was more organized, I think, than you guys have.

M: I’d say, I definitely agree that it’s a lot harder to (get away with more) … I know a lot of people who, from like my dad’s generation, say it was a lot easier to get away with stuff. Parties now, that’s why I think parties are a lot smaller, a lot more discreet, and they’re exclusive, like he said. You have to get kind of invited personally by whoever is hosting it, just because, there’s always that. That social media aspect, as he says, makes it a lot harder to have stereotypical parties where there’s drinking, and things like that. So it’s changed to definitely a quieter kind of get-together rather than the parties you would see in movies.

Q: are there any similarities you think between parties then and parties now?

W: I think they’re in the root idea that kids getting together with high energy having fun, but, which means it’s undirected.  When you go to a party, you don’t know where it is going to end up, in-terms of what are we really going to do, what’s gonna be the memorable moment from that, and that’s always gonna be the way it is, because kids are kids. You know the awareness of social media, the availability of opportunities to do various things is gonna change, but kids are kids, so they’re going to make fun, wherever they are.

M: Well, I guess the harder part for me is finding the similarities because I have no insight on what they used to be, but I think it is basically the same thing; you go, there’s music, it’s fun, there’s a lot of people, but not a huge amount.  You know people there, you meet people, and like you said, you end up kinda doing just whatever you want – just it’s, a lot of it’s just spur of the moment decisions, What do you want to do? We’re bored, or this song sucks, or this party sucks…  the idea is, there’s no set way to have a party, it just kinda depends on the person.

Q: Do you think that the culture and the stigmas attached to the word party have changed at all?

W: I think so because of the connotation now that if your kids go to a party they are likely to do something that is gonna get them in trouble.  There’s a perception about that now. For example I look at a lot of things as a coach.  Kids may lose a portion of their season or an entire year of eligibility, and there’s kind of a belief that attends a party.  You know those were non-issues while I was growing up and through my early teaching career. … what happened outside of school happened outside of school, what happened inside of school happened inside of school, and that line’s been blurred. So I think that has changed the perception a little bit.

M: I, again speaking from the fact that I don’t have any insight… I think it is definitely a negative stigma today, at least, I keep referring back to Hollywood and the movies, because you see those old movies where high school is fun and games, and it wasn’t learning and things like that, and the parties were fun and were huge, it was like a neighborhood joined in. And you heard party then, and it was like, “Oh, it’s fun.” You hear party now, and it’s like [lowers voice] “OK, where is it?” like it’s a side kind of whisper… you know like, OK, and then you have to find out all of the details, because you want to then find out if you should go because, like you said, you have all these consequences and things like that so, it’s definitely become more negative, the stigma with parties just because of the consequences and social media and things that have developed over the decades.  I guess that is pretty much what our opinion is.  It’s a negative stigma with that regard.

Q: do you think these new negative stigmas really represent what modern parties are like?

W: It’s interesting when you ask the question about stigma because who applies a stigma? Is it adults looking at children now? And I suspect that if it is adults – modern adults looking at children now, then it was no different than when modern adults looked at children 20 years ago.  It’s always a generation looking at their kids and saying this is what you should be doing, because this will be the best path, for you, to success. So I don’t know that the stigma has changed.  No, no I don’t think it has.

M: I think it depends on who you’re with, again, I mean, people my grade know there have been parties in my grade that have been busted, they have been… It’s hard to say… that they have done things that are wrong, and have warranted consequences, but at the same time, so that meets the stigma, but you have on the other side, people who just get together and have fun, who completely are the opposite side of the stigma – you just get together, there’s music, there’s fun, there’s just food and drinks and fun. So I mean you have a 50-50 shot of, yes, there are parties that support the negative – we’re doing bad things, and then the other side that is completely opposite.

Q: Do you think parties are more helpful or harmful for teenagers nowadays?

W:  I think there’s lot of good about parties because kids have to learn to make decisions. Kids need to learn how to interact in social ways without direct supervision always of parents. It’s in a lot of ways preparatory for kids going off to college, where they’re not for the first time faced with those types of realities.  So I think there is much good about it, but again, it just requires, as always, proper decision-making.

M: I mean, speaking as a kid, I think they’re great – I get to see my friends and meet new people and I have when I have hung out with friends over the summer, there were parties and things like that, I did meet new people that I am still friends with, and you discover kinda new things about everybody, you see somebody at a party who you might not have known was outgoing, he’s not fun, so I think it is definitely a big part of my generation, in that, in a positive way.


“It’s always a generation looking at their kids and saying this is what you should be doing, because this will be the best path, for you, to success. So I don’t know that the stigma has changed.  No, no I don’t think it has.”

 – Will Ellery


Q: do you have any warnings or advice for your teens nowadays about going to parties?

W: Yes, but it is the same as it would have been back when I was young, which is just be aware; be aware of your surroundings, be aware of people you are meeting, be aware of your decisions, and have a perspective of, down the road, those decisions often don’t have an immediate impact, but can down the road. Just be alert, be smart.

M: Yeah, I guess what I would say is probably watch your back… Because, you might not be doing anything wrong, but unfortunately on social media, something that somebody else says can be misconstrued to portray you doing something wrong. So, just be careful and watch yourself and other people.

Q: are there any similarities you think between parties then and parties now?

W: I think they’re in the root idea that kids getting together with high energy having fun, but, which means it’s undirected.  When you go to a party, you don’t know where it is going to end up, in-terms of what are we really going to do, what’s gonna be the memorable moment from that, and that’s always gonna be the way it is, because kids are kids. You know the awareness of social media, the availability of opportunities to do various things is gonna change, but kids are kids, so they’re going to make fun, wherever they are.

M: Well, I guess the harder part for me is finding the similarities because I have no insight on what they used to be, but I think it is basically the same thing; you go, there’s music, it’s fun, there’s a lot of people, but not a huge amount.  You know people there, you meet people, and like you said, you end up kinda doing just whatever you want – just it’s, a lot of it’s just spur of the moment decisions, What do you want to do? We’re bored, or this song sucks, or this party sucks…  the idea is, there’s no set way to have a party, it just kinda depends on the person.

Q: Do you think that the culture and the stigmas attached to the word party have changed at all?

W: I think so because of the connotation now that if your kids go to a party they are likely to do something that is gonna get them in trouble.  There’s a perception about that now. For example I look at a lot of things as a coach.  Kids may lose a portion of their season or an entire year of eligibility, and there’s kind of a belief that attends a party.  You know those were non-issues while I was growing up and through my early teaching career. … what happened outside of school happened outside of school, what happened inside of school happened inside of school, and that line’s been blurred. So I think that has changed the perception a little bit.

M: I, again speaking from the fact that I don’t have any insight… I think it is definitely a negative stigma today, at least, I keep referring back to Hollywood and the movies, because you see those old movies where high school is fun and games, and it wasn’t learning and things like that, and the parties were fun and were huge, it was like a neighborhood joined in. And you heard party then, and it was like, “Oh, it’s fun.” You hear party now, and it’s like [lowers voice] “OK, where is it?” like it’s a side kind of whisper… you know like, OK, and then you have to find out all of the details, because you want to then find out if you should go because, like you said, you have all these consequences and things like that so, it’s definitely become more negative, the stigma with parties just because of the consequences and social media and things that have developed over the decades.  I guess that is pretty much what our opinion is.  It’s a negative stigma with that regard.

Q: do you think these new negative stigmas really represent what modern parties are like?

W: It’s interesting when you ask the question about stigma because who applies a stigma? Is it adults looking at children now? And I suspect that if it is adults – modern adults looking at children now, then it was no different than when modern adults looked at children 20 years ago.  It’s always a generation looking at their kids and saying this is what you should be doing, because this will be the best path, for you, to success. So I don’t know that the stigma has changed.  No, no I don’t think it has

M: I think it depends on who you’re with, again, I mean, people my grade know there have been parties in my grade that have been busted, they have been… It’s hard to say… that they have done things that are wrong, and have warranted consequences, but at the same time, so that meets the stigma, but you have on the other side, people who just get together and have fun, who completely are the opposite side of the stigma – you just get together, there’s music, there’s fun, there’s just food and drinks and fun. So I mean you have a 50-50 shot of, yes, there are parties that support the negative – we’re doing bad things, and then the other side that is completely opposite.

Q: Do you think parties are more helpful or harmful for teenagers nowadays?

W:  I think there’s lot of good about parties because kids have to learn to make decisions. Kids need to learn how to interact in social ways without direct supervision always of parents. It’s in a lot of ways preparatory for kids going off to college, where they’re not for the first time faced with those types of realities.  So I think there is much good about it, but again, it just requires, as always, proper decision-making.

M: I mean, speaking as a kid, I think they’re great – I get to see my friends and meet new people and I have when I have hung out with friends over the summer, there were parties and things like that, I did meet new people that I am still friends with, and you discover kinda new things about everybody, you see somebody at a party who you might not have known was outgoing, he’s not fun, so I think it is definitely a big part of my generation, in that, in a positive way.

Q: do you have any warnings or advice for your teens nowadays about going to parties?

W: Yes, but it is the same as it would have been back when I was young, which is just be aware; be aware of your surroundings, be aware of people you are meeting, be aware of your decisions, and have a perspective of, down the road, those decisions often don’t have an immediate impact, but can down the road. Just be alert, be smart.

M: Yeah, I guess what I would say is probably watch your back… Because, you might not be doing anything wrong, but unfortunately on social media, something that somebody else says can be misconstrued to portray you doing something wrong. So, just be careful and watch yourself and other people.


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Emily Worrell