Ditching the Norm For Clothes and Camp

Columbia may not be known for its keg stands and weekend-long bashes, but it has given birth to its share of party planners.

It was here, after all, that the likes of immaculate hostess-extraordinaire Martha Stewart and Toshi-king of the New York City party scene, where twenty-somethings decked in little but house paint serve drinks, dance, and drink the night away-got their start.

Lately though, Columbia students may be giving hosts of yore a run for their money. Theme parties have become more and more popular in suites and dorm rooms-students say the more intricate the theme, the better.

"People have definitely been getting creative this year with the ideas," said Cliff Horton, CC '07.

Horton, who has hosted such parties as a hat party and a Martipalooza, in honor of his friend Marti, said the trick is to get people talking.

"The best themes get people talking about each other," he said. "But it has to be easy to execute."

Casey Acierno, CC '08, doesn't apply to that rule. Her first party, she said, was based on an F. Scott Fitzgerald novel.

Last year, she said she and her suitemates decided to throw a Great Gatsby party. Her suite invited people to dress like characters in the book.

"My friends were like, 'why don't we do this more often?'" she said.

And they have. Since then, they've thrown a West End party (it involved rap music, white tank tops, and popped collars), a disco party (all things sparkly), and a robots and ho-bots party (few dressed up for this one).

Occasionally, she said, people suggest that theme parties may get in the way of certain other priorities.

"Don't spend money on decorating, spend money on alcohol," a suitemate of Acierno's said. But, Acierno said theme parties are more fun.

"Everyone likes an excuse to wear something silly," she said.

Jordan Keenan, CC '08, a member of Bacchanal, said Columbia's official party-planning organization is a big proponent of all things themed.

"You can't make them too complicated," he said. "Otherwise people won't get involved."

He said the most successful parties are simple-toga parties and beach parties work well. And, when in doubt, he said, throw an '80s party.

Tamara Lee, CC '07, has been throwing parties since her freshman year, when she and her roommate hosted a Christmas party. Since then, she has held a '20s party, an ocean party (everyone wore blue), and an EC pub crawl, where she and six other suites joined together to throw a multi-suite bash with a different drink theme for each suite.

"I think especially when we're in college, the typical going to a dorm or a frat and drinking beer or any standard alcoholic drink gets boring," she said. "It's a fun way to add something extra to a party."

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