Fruit-fraced people partying

Partakers of the Penn Fraternity: An ethnographic study of late-night partygoers

After living amongst the savages at a fraternity party for one hour and following the natural activities of the environment as a neutral and non-interruptive observer, I have set out to present a structured text that methodically describes the culture of the party ritual.

Chapter 1: The demographic

Participants in the fraternity-party culture can be broadly separated into three groups by size, and further classified by their intention.

The first can be described as friend-groups of at least two individuals, but usually averaging around six. These persons compose a majority of the population. They often occupy excessive space on the dance floor by forming into a circle and leaving an open area in the center, rather than dense packing. This formation causes each member to have their back turned to the surrounding environment, and as a result they will collide other savages in the midst of movement.

This large group can be split into two categories – those with individuals intending to make sexual advances, and those without. The former are often gender diverse and can be further divided into advancers who drink alcohol to reduce their anxieties but maintain clear conscience, and non-advancers who regulate the group and contribute the atmosphere of the party. An advancer will never be found without attachment to a group to promote a sense of grandiosity and popularity in having a group. The latter are mostly homogeneous in gender and participate in the activities of this culture primarily to consume alcohol. Note the primary difference between “drink” and “consume” refers to quantity. Rather than enjoying more normal weekend activities, these deviants, who appear to have little joy outside this scene, arrive intoxicated and continue their inebriation deep into the night. This group can be divided into consumers who indulge in the greatest quantity, sometimes to a point of unconsciousness, and enablers who indulge less primarily to ensure the well-being of the consumers.

The second group – couples – participate in party culture solely to consume free alcohol. Rather than spending a boring night in, watching a movie and enjoying each other, they choose to enjoy each other in public. They push their way through thick crowds, hands linked, on their way to drink. This aggression is only outmatched by their passionate public displays of affection.

The final group – singles – participate in party culture to enjoy themselves. They usually keep to themselves, but occasionally feel compelled to participate in the deindividuating party rituals. This group can be separated into two major groups as well, the superiors and the losers. Superiors feed off the energy of the environment, participating in dancing and drinking to follow the norms. Losers only partake in activities that could be done in the comfort of one’s one home – drinking, phone scrolling, talking to strangers – for fear of public humiliation. In this regard, their true nature, self-centered and arrogant, becomes apparent; they fail to recognize their insignificance in the grand scheme of party culture.

Chapter 2: Stages of the party

The flow of the party ritual generally follows four stages: excitement, plateau, climax, and resolution. Each stage contains the two major activities associated with the party – drinking and dancing – but to varying extents and with different manifestations of the behavior.

The excitement stage begins with the party as the first participants enter. The music played has low energy, providing a soothing rather than an exciting energy. The partakers flow towards the alcohol, starting with light drinking to reduce their anxiety, though some might already have drank before during a ritual deemed the “pre-game.” Conversation and excitement begin but little to no dancing has occurred yet, as there is an unresolvable tension in the room.

As more partygoers join in the festivities and drinks continue to flow, the event gradually transitions into the plateau phase. The music becomes more energetic, and the atmosphere becomes more amenable to dancing. Space becomes scarcer as flinging bodies occupy more and more of the dance floor, and individuals must forcefully move to their desired positions. The tight packing results in an atmosphere with higher temperature and humidity.

The party reaches climax once space becomes so scarce that additional individuals cannot easily join the event. Movement between locations requires following the flow of the crowd, squeezing and bumping between others. The alcohol has been widely consumed, so much so that some partygoers cannot stay upright without physical support from walls or the crowd around them. Most have achieved a state of minimal anxiety such that dancing has reached maximum energy. The air has become uncomfortably warm and humid.

The climax can last for any amount of time, but will eventually reach the resolution stage. The energy of the party dies down as partygoers become either tired from dancing or excessive alcohol intake. Partakers leave to recover their energy, escape the jungle-like atmosphere, or safely escort others home. Drinks stop flowing, as individuals have had enough or too much. The site of the party is left a wet, sticky mess to be cleaned up before the next.

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