The Art of Party Crashing

Brow Beat
Slate's Culture Blog
Nov. 30 2009 11:29 AM

The Art of Party Crashing

Troy Patterson Troy Patterson

Troy Patterson is Slate's writer at large and writes the Gentleman Scholar column.

The slang term

party crash

dates to the early 1920s, when bright young things and flappers introduced roaring to the modern philosophy of pleasure. Ideally, crashing is a crime less comparable to housebreaking than to inciting a riot. It doesn't matter whether the crasher is spontaneously lurching into the grand ballroom at the Stamford, Conn., Marriott or horning in on a neighbor's barbecue: His goal should be to raise the overall level of fun though the sheer vigor of his attendance. Buzzing at his triumph and luck and ingenuity, he brings a heightened enthusiasm to his small talk and his dance steps and his stealthy bathroom hookups.

I went to a dinner party last Saturday night where we chatted about the tacky Salahis and shared crashing stories from our silly little corner of the world. (I was a legitimate guest, obviously, dinner parties being tough to crack. Belated kudos to Dana Goodyear for her excellent form when, reporting


, she blew into a private supper at Lupa and pulled up a chair.) On Saturday, my hostess recalled a professional obligation to check out the cocktail hour following the wedding of Catherine Zeta-Jones to Michael Douglas. This involved borrowing fancy dresses from designers, checking into the Plaza a week ahead of time, and steer clearing of Kofi Annan's security staff. Another guest reminisced about working in

. The thing about mailrooms is, there's a lot of mail in there, and he would call in RSVPs to promising invitations, pretending to be his own assistant. My friend Mark remembered the night when, having himself crashed a St. Patrick's Day party, he was introduced to, and had a lot of laughs with, a guy who had crashed Mark's own wedding reception. (The merry intruder had brought along three friends, each of whom left bearing what the police insist on calling an open container even if the situation involves bottlecaps.) I decided that the response to the party-crash scene in

is crucial to

Please do share your own hints, tips, thoughts, and feats in the comments section. I will merely add that it is always fun to stumble across

and, later, out of

a basic art-gallery wine-and-cheese thing. And I will nominate


, and

as the Triple Crown of Party Crashing.



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