Different kinds of partay....
January 9, 2009 9:51 AM   Subscribe

What's the difference between various types of parties? Why are some called hootenannys, others called hoedowns, still others called mixers, balls, dances, shindigs, etc? Can anyone point me towards a (semi-serious, or totally facetious... either one would be valuable) list or comparison of various types of parties? Bonus points for descriptions of linguistic / dialectical differences.
posted by fvox13 to Society & Culture (12 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
there was a classic line from an episode of BUFFY once:

OZ: We should figure out what kinda deal this is. I mean, is it a-a gathering, a shindig or a hootenanny?

CORDELIA: What's the difference?

OZ: Well, a gathering is brie, mellow song stylings; shindig, dip, less mellow song stylings, perhaps a large amount of malt beverage; and hootenanny, well, it's chock full of hoot, just a little bit of nanny.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 9:59 AM on January 9, 2009 [8 favorites]

If it helps, from what I understand, a hootenanny is what they called the gatherings of folk singers in the Village in the 60's, while a hoedown is generally a square dance, or other country music dancing gathering.
posted by General Malaise at 9:59 AM on January 9, 2009

A lot of these really are fairly specific, to my mind.

balls - formal wear + dancing
mixers - for people of the opposite sex to meet, not always dancing. has a dancing-specific meaning and a more general meaning.
dances - for dancing (recorded music or a band, big dance floor)
hoedown - band + dancing, also has dancing-specific meaning and more colloquial one
hootenannys - hoedown + drinking (colloquially, but the specific meaning comes from the TV show and get together in the sixties era)
shindig - catch-all get-together (also likely comes from the TV show though there's a cart horse thing going on here)

Many of the dance related terms can be under the social dancing umbrella. People's interpretation of these words will have a lot to do with whether they watched 60's era TV, whether they are active in social dancing circles or whether, like me, they know most of these terms as more casual not-quite-synonyms for generalized get togethers.
posted by jessamyn at 10:12 AM on January 9, 2009 [1 favorite]

I think some of these more casual terms say more about the speaker who chose them than the event.

posted by fiercecupcake at 10:29 AM on January 9, 2009

In Steinbeck's Sweet Thursday there is a party that, initially, is referred to as a "wallager". Soon, as its complexity and scope increase, it becomes a "tom-wallager", and it keeps drawing attendants and importance and influence until it takes on the revered status of "bull-bitch-tom-wallager."

That's a pretty serious party.
posted by dirtdirt at 10:49 AM on January 9, 2009

This sounds like a job for Urban Dictionary

hootenanny 65 up, 4 down

(n.) celebratory event held in the southern United States and possibly featuring some of the following: home-brewed hooch, straw hat, people 'dipping' socially, banjo, air boat, shotgun, confederate flag. interestingly enough, it tends to be wild, uninhibited and dionysian despite the socially conservative views of most of its participants

shindig 133 up, 28 down

A small party, not quite full scale. Generally a shindig consists of 5-20 people hanging out at the host's house, but they may be held at other locations such as a beach. Shindigs almost always involve alcoholic beverages, usually beer. Often, marijuana is smoked as well.

A shindig usually does not escalate into a large full scale party because it is meant to be a low key night, avoiding any complications such as cleaning up vomit, unwanted guests, picking up trash the rude guests leave lying wherever they drop it, putting everything back in its proper place, eliciting attention fom neighbors and local law enforcement, etc.

rager 114 up, 42 down

a party where everyone there calls everyone they know to come rage the house. eventually theres like 500 people, the house gets trashed, and the cops come.

kick back 160 up, 9 down

small gathering between group of friends, more than a get together, less than a party (used in nor-cal central valley)

hoedown 56 up, 14 down

What a police officer says on his radio after encountering an injured or dead prostitute.

err... rather

redneck gathering, usually involves shouting catchy phrases like "yee-haw" and "the south will rise again"

sock hop 16 up, 2 down

A informal dance with a live band at a school gymnasium, cafeteria or on school grounds.

mixer 120 up, 23 down

A party where a fraternity and a sororty get together to drink and socialize. Often held at the fraternity or at their annex.

rave 986 up, 132

any gathering of people centered around listening to and dancing to electronic music, as played by a set of live djs. Originated in 1989 in the UK as underground, often illegal gatherings in abandoned warehouses. Often characterized by the positive, psychedelic atmosphere, influnced often (but not always) by drugs and casual sex.

tailgate party 13 up, 4 down

Parties that usually center around a group of people who tailgate to a football game (originated in the South). Once there a party, typically, with food (barbeque or grilled) and alcohol, is held in the parking lot.

Recently tailgating parties have begun to take place at other sports games, symphony performances, and nascar races all over the U.S.

shitshow 135 up, 18 down

An event that involves one or more people consuming excessive amounts of alcohol or other substances, losing control, and delving into debauchery and hedonism. Usually ends with the police showing up.

...Thats all I can think of for now... but UD is probably the best reference.
posted by clearly at 11:17 AM on January 9, 2009 [3 favorites]

partay 65 up, 17 down

A social gathering usually containing loud rap or hip-hop music, an abundance of substance abuse and often a great amount of sexual promiscuity.
posted by iviken at 11:45 AM on January 9, 2009

A lot of those Urban Dictionary entries are showing their Yankee urban-ness.

In my semi-rural world, a "hoedown" is a square or big circle dance and the tune that is played for the dance. A hoedown is also a good tune to clog to. Fiddler to band: "That's enough waltzes. Let's play a hoedown."

"Hootenanny" calls to mind earnest, 100% urban folk types in the 1960s getting together to strum the banjo and sing wholesome songs. No one in their right mind has a hootenanny anymore.
posted by PatoPata at 12:42 PM on January 9, 2009 [1 favorite]

Marge: Party?! No! No parties!
Homer: What about "par-TAY"s?
Marge: No "par-TAY"s, no shindigs, no keggers, no hootenannies, no mixers, no raves, no box socials!

So: box social 114 up, 42 down

A social get-together that involved the auctioning off of boxed lunches prepared by the women. A potential sweetheart might let her man of choice know how she had decorated the box she prepared so that he would try harder to be the one to successfully buy it at auction. This was a way for young women to show off their meal-making skills. He who bought the lunch would share the meal with the one who prepared it.
posted by bjrn at 2:02 PM on January 9, 2009 [1 favorite]

Fun fact: my grandparents met at a box social. My grandfather bought my [to be] grandmother's lunch and said he'd marry the woman who made the apple pie in it. And he did.
posted by jessamyn at 2:32 PM on January 9, 2009 [3 favorites]

And you've missed out on the good old British "knees-up": a shindig with drinking and dancing, as opposed to the good old British "piss-up": a shindig with just drinking (aka a Metafilter meet up). A very important distinction!
posted by goo at 3:56 PM on January 9, 2009

And a very Australian party is a B & S, giving rural, hetero, single people a chance to get to know each other better amidst their utes and the pig pen.
posted by goo at 8:26 PM on January 9, 2009

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