What to do with 500 people?
August 30, 2008 12:16 AM   Subscribe

How to transform a drunk college party into something more interesting/entertaining?

I go to school at UConn, which is a pretty hardcore party school (usually ranks top 10 in lists). This year, I'm living at the heart of the party, in Carriage House Apartments. On weekend nights, the place usually floods with people, who play beer pong or stand around and get trashed. I don't really have anything against parties, but all people do is mill around friends. The whole thing got old freshman year.

But I'm here now, and I want to make things interesting. I'm looking for ideas for performance art or the like that could turn this into something more. For reference, this is about what it looks like.

The only realistic ideas we've tossed around include outdoor techno raves with strobes and fog, and mad scientists doing something with dry ice and lasers. The only requirement is that we don't want to start a riot, or be injured by the drunken masses. Go wild.
posted by daboo to Media & Arts (21 answers total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
A quick question: are you on-campus or off?
posted by mdonley at 12:25 AM on August 30, 2008

Response by poster: off campus
posted by daboo at 12:27 AM on August 30, 2008

Forfeits party: everyone dresses a theme, has to remove anything shown to be inconsistant with the theme.
posted by orthogonality at 12:48 AM on August 30, 2008

trivia contest
posted by metahawk at 1:15 AM on August 30, 2008

Anything involving body paint is usually fun. A slip and slide during the summer / warm months; a 'polar bear contest' during the winter... Old-fashioned 'rake the leaves' during the fall...

For something more 'artsy'... What about getting some of the Art major to put up their best installation art, or see what they'd be interested in doing for a Saturday night that would be filmed / pictured (there WILL be film and pictures, right?) for the possible portfolio they might have to produce...
posted by chrisinseoul at 2:12 AM on August 30, 2008

This is a self-link, but may I recommend Pictodash?
posted by buriednexttoyou at 6:28 AM on August 30, 2008

Theme parties are the way to go, and I don't mean toga parties. I'm a fan of "dress like you did in high school" parties, which let you actually learn something about people. Or, "dress like your favorite work of art" or "dress like your favorite board game." No entrance unless you adhere to the theme!
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 7:10 AM on August 30, 2008

You're on the right track. I'd recommend games. Board games, parlour games, video games, just come up with a bunch of fun games.
posted by saxamo at 8:02 AM on August 30, 2008

. Build something. A float for homecoming, snowmen in winter, whatever.
. Have contests for scrabble, checkers, trivial pursuit, wii golf, etc.
. Get a projector and show classic movies outdoors.
. Play frisbee golf, hallway bowling with Fosters cans, or invent a weird new sport involving the building.
. Learn to cook interesting new food and have dinner parties.
. If the building is right for it, rig up some tetris with light in the windows.
Cockeyed.com is inspirational for this sort of thing.
posted by theora55 at 8:32 AM on August 30, 2008

Rubix cube party. Dress in the six colours of a rubix cubes, and the aim is to be all in one colour by the end of the night.
posted by kjs4 at 9:53 AM on August 30, 2008 [1 favorite]

Graffiti party

Non dominant hand party:
Very simple whenever someone comes in the door you mark their off hand and they have to alway have their drink in the off hand and if they don't you can make them chug whatever they're holding (its evil but so much fun).
posted by Sgt.Grumbless at 10:30 AM on August 30, 2008

Music is the way to go, ideally performed live.
posted by phrontist at 10:41 AM on August 30, 2008

posted by cellphone at 10:46 AM on August 30, 2008

My friend told me once of a Heaven and Hell party he went to:

Entry floor (Middle world, limbo, whatever) - Normal party scene with a keg, morons, and beer pong

Upper floors (heaven) - lit with blue lights, clean, no shoes allowed, cheap champagne, food, well air-conditioned, chill music

Basement (Hell) - lit with red lights, pitchfork party favors, vats of jungle juice (or "vat"), heat is turned up high (which is unsafe, surely), same black sabbath and guns 'n' roses albums on repeat or a shitty band

The story went that by 2am everyone went to Hell, got naked and ...
posted by metajc at 11:35 AM on August 30, 2008 [2 favorites]

build a giant pinata (i'm talking big!) and then have people go at it, i recommend not giving anyone a bat or anything, you don't want things to get too aggressive with a lot of drunk people around. you could make it in a funny shape, opposing team mascot (a little cheesy, but maybe it fits the demographic, althought, again, want to keep it fun not crazy aggressive). Channel their inner child and make sure you get enough candy on the inside!! Get old cardboard boxes and cobble them together with tape and staples into a larger shape. You'll have to get creative and think about structural integrity, get your art students friends to help out. Cover them in fringes of tissue paper. You could also just take large intact cardboard boxes, put some cones on them like star points and have several for people to tear apart.

Something I always wanted to do was have a hair gel party. Get a whole bunch of cheap hair gel and let everybody do their hair crazy. Girlie girls might not be into getting their hair messed up.

Chocolate pudding fight. Very fun, very messy. You might worry about the actual apartments getting trashed.

Pillow fight (again, watch out for scary drunk frat guys)

themes: eurotrash, stoplight party (dress in green if single, yellow if dating but open, red if taken), gender-bending/cross-dressing, i mean, a halloween party is the best party ever (bobbing for apples in a kiddy pool!!)
posted by dahliachewswell at 12:14 PM on August 30, 2008

Man, I used to throw a lot of theme parties in college. I remember one was called the "Snob Social" where you had to act like... well, some member of the elite. Any elite. We had Nobel prize winners, safari adventurers, Olympians, wealthy socialites, intelligensia... you name it. It was really pretty hysterical. People stayed in character for most of the time, too. They got really into it. We had a party where you had to bring a total stranger to get in... I had designed a cool invite and it gave people an excuse to walk up to someone they'd always wanted to talk to and get to know them, even if they got shot down. So when the party happened, there were just all sorts of people there that weren't in our group usually and it really expanded our social circles. Ummm, I remember also having a birthday party for a friend that was turning 25 and worried he was getting old (oh Lordy) so we made the house look like a graveyard, baked a tombstone cake and showed Harold and Maude. Everyone had to dress up as they'd look when they died. So people had to think about their own demise and try to portray it... which was pretty funny. Some people were very creative.

Anyhow, moral of the story... you're young. Have fun and get creative with it. People will still get trashed at these parties of course, but you'll learn more about people and have better memories than just drinking and praying to the porcelain god. I mean, the proof is evident since I'm still remembering these parties twenty years later!
posted by miss lynnster at 1:10 PM on August 30, 2008 [1 favorite]

Oh, I also had a luau where we even had a kiddie pool filled with fish and served poi. We played hawaiian music and rented (cheaply) a bubble machine. We draped a borrowed fishing net over the building and strung lights on it. These themes don't have to cost much... it's more what you *do* with your resources than about spending money. Nowadays if you needed stuff to help with a theme you could probably even find perfect stuff on freecycle or craigslist, which we didn't have back then.
posted by miss lynnster at 1:13 PM on August 30, 2008

Cross-dressing, wine and cheese, box wine and cheez-its, pot luck, a communist party, game night, battle of the bands/ concert.
posted by martinX's bellbottoms at 1:58 PM on August 30, 2008

I went to a "One article of clothing" party. Exactly what it sounded like. Examples: Bathrobe, Jumpsuit, XL suit jacket on a S person, Speedo, etc.
posted by true at 7:16 PM on August 30, 2008

If you are friends with two or more groups of friends that don't really know each other, then tell each group a different theme.
posted by about_time at 8:34 PM on August 30, 2008

Combine the Tetris and projection screen ideas. Playing Tetris/Dr. Mario (especially competitively) on a huge screen is enormously entertaining. The retro factor is cool, too.

Elementary school carnival theme. Enlist groups to organize face-painting, sponge-throwing, kissing booths (ok, not so elementary), etc.

Call up your campus radio station. They should be prepared to send someone out with equipment super-cheap.
posted by carsonb at 12:43 PM on August 31, 2008

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