In the halcyon days before Covid-19, I was something of a party connoisseur, searching out other night-time aesthetes for quick dinners and unpremeditated kitchen discos. I think most of us are yearning for the glitz and glamour of an over-the-top Christmas shindig—think Studio 54 dusted with icing sugar. I dream, too, of a house party, a proper top shelf one that makes you instantly bead with sweat on entry and hike your skirt up two inches, preferably in a dingy room that might even have a pole for dancing. 

Like Jurassic Park with the power out, good parties don’t have many rules. Their un-schooly rebellion is part of their appeal. Apart from “don’t throw up on anything porous” there’s only one rule to adhere to: you simply cannot outstay your welcome, ever. I do not say this lightly: leave before you’re asked, before the light dims on the fun. It doesn’t really matter how much you drink, or whether you started an argument with the host, or threw champagne at the sleeping cat, or whose cousin you let feel you up in the gazebo, you have to leave before things sour. Before the boiling point reduces to a simmer. Before the host glances at their watch. Do not wait for the party to lose its high definition. Leave when the party is gaining the whirling intensity of a salad spinner. In one way, parties are like jokes, you want to exit stage left while everybody’s laughing at a punchline.  

To call Donald Trump’s recent actions a gauche interpretation of party etiquette isn’t the whole story, though 77 million votes against you is certainly a unanimous hint to hit the cloakroom queue. What is at play here is very dangerous, of course—rather than a bad sport, our former host-in-chief is the number one threat to the fabric of American democracy—but this is compounded by his appalling manners, his refusal to take defeat on the chin and Uber away from the White House. 

The current Republican afterparty is a lesson to all of us to not rudely outstay our welcomes, to know when the party’s over, to tactfully concede to the end of an era, to Make America Gracious Again. 

If you care for your hosts, you don’t lurch from room to room, long after the ice has melted. You leave. You’re not the champion of musical chairs if you stay; you’re a tumbleweeding, heel-dragging problem, oblivious to your surroundings. You’re illiterate in room-reading. You’re a 12-part Netflix series that should have been a 90-minute doc, an everlasting Zoom that should have been an email. 

Next time you party—one distant day after we’re all vaccinated—don’t get carried away with the novelty of finally being around people. The rules still apply: You still want to leave people wanting more. You’re an amuse bouche on a tasting menu. Make people laugh. Make small talk. Make loose brunch plans with the hottest bystander and escape into the night with a slice of cake wrapped in serviette for the subway. Go home to your real life on the internet, a city that never sleeps. As I said, it doesn’t matter what happened in the gazebo, as long as you’re out before your time’s up. 

Source: vogue.com