Ode to a Greek House Party
December 2, 2005
The holiday season is typically the time when Greek-Americans open up their houses for parties – from the most sophisticated of affairs, to all-out ragers that are so much fun that they often deserve the title of “Greek Night Killers” for their ability to make one second-guess leaving the sleepy suburbs to head downtown at midnight.
The Greek House Party is unlike any average get-together. Growing up there was a circuit of parties every year that you could always count on for a good time at different times of the year. Whether it was Christmas Eve, New Year’s Eve, or some random Saint Day, there were certain people’s houses that were synonymous with a certain day of the year and activity. As the children at these parties became the Greek young adults of this generation, the same basic tenets of a proper Greek House Party continued with them.
During high school or home on break during college, the first question that followed any discussion with our parents of going to a house party was, are the hosts Greek or not? If not, the first advice, if not order, that would come from a Greek mother would be to sit down and eat something – not just a snack, but a full square meal – because “potato chips” did not count toward the claim that a party had food. Conversely, when it was a Greek party, the commandment would come down from a Greek father to not eat anything for hours beforehand, because there was sure to be food and a lot of it. It didn’t matter if the hosts were Greek guys or girls because for parties even Greek guys who you could never picture in a kitchen would have elaborate spreads. (And even if they didn’t make the food themselves, the presentment of it as coming hot out of the oven would be enough to make any guest second-guess herself.)
It’s not just the hosts that make a Greek party, but the guests themselves. Greek-Americans and Philhellenes alike know never to come to a party empty-handed. You can tell when there’s one or more Greek parties happening in any given night by the amount of Greeks you see at the ABC store five minutes before closing. If there are guys carrying ouzo or brown liquor, it’s a safe bet that the host of the party is another guy. Greek girls on the other hand more often appreciate a nice bottle of Amaretto or Midori, anything you can safely add to sour mix and make it taste like candy. This adds to the sense of community that you feel at a Greek party, where you know that the hosts are there to take care of you, and that in turn, you are there to take care of the hosts.
Free food, free alcohol and not having to stand outside in the cold to get into a good party is not the reason we’re devoting time to celebrating the Greek House Party. Maybe it’s that you can actually hear yourself think, or that there aren’t other people to stare at outside the group like at a happy hour, or that the best conversations usually take place standing around in a kitchen, but for some reason, it’s at a Greek House Party where Greek young adults meet and get to know each other better.
Those of you who have followed this site for a while may remember our attempt at filling our calendar with 40 events in 40 days earlier this year in an attempt to promote events where Greek young adults can meet each other in different settings, the way that non-Greeks meet each other in everyday life. If our math is correct, DCGreeks.com’s 40 Before 40 2 begins on Wednesday. January 18, 2006 and we will be looking for people to host events particularly on evenings when nothing else is happening here in the DC area. We encourage those out there who have a place large enough to post an open invite on our events calendar to go ahead and pick a date in late January or February 2006 and hope that you inspire others to follow suit.