Hosting a Gathering

Greetings, Faithful Readers, and welcome to the June edition of Gothic Charm School. With June comes longer days and warmer nights; what better way to use them than to throw parties? Of course, there are certain things one should keep in mind when being a host or hostess for a clot of goths…

1. The Potential for Drama.

No one can ever keep track of everyone’s social alignment in a goth scene; who isn’t speaking to whom, who is currently infatuated with (but not admitting to it) with someone else, and so on. What could this have to do with entertaining? Surely it is possible, with some careful attention to the guest list, to make sure there are no clumps of people glaring at one another? Well . . . no. Because there is always someone who will bring along an uninvited friend or two, and those people will most likely be the folks that other guests at the party are currently whispering about. So what does the host or hostess do in these sorts of situations? One thing is quietly talk to one of the invited guests who appear to have a problem with the new arrival in question. Don’t ask them to explain what the cause of the strife is, just ask them if there is going to be an explosion. In fact, one may be better off asking the guest to try to make sure there won’t be any problems. Appeal to their better nature or good sense; “I realize there is some sort of tension between you and X, but I know that I can trust you not to cause a scene.” Said with a confiding air and a smile, your guest will most likely agree with you, and try to make sure that nothing untoward occurs.

But what if there is a scene? It depends on what type of drama erupts; if it’s nothing more than people sitting in corners, pointedly whispering about and glaring at each other, then just ignore it. Eventually one or the other of the camps will get bored and either leave or find something else to do. But if the tension erupts into screaming matches or fights, then it’s the job of the host or hostess to step into the middle of things, ask the combatants to stop the altercation, and then ask them to leave. Keep in mind that the people involved will try to explain their side and get you to agree with them (not that other horrible person). Just continue saying that it would be for the best if the people involved left the gathering. Hopefully they will, and one won’t need to ask other party guest to be reinforcements in asking the combatants to leave.

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Drunken Mishaps and Shenanigans.

At most parties and social occasions thrown by goths, there are alcoholic beverages. (Well, the Lady of the Manners would hope that is not the case for events arranged by those not of drinking age, but is well aware of the Follies of Youth.) Unfortunately, some people do not hold their liquor well, and a host or hostess may have to deal with things ranging from knocked-over furniture and ornaments, spilled drinks, or someone being wretchedly sick from drink.

The first course of action to prevent one of these problems is to make sure that fragile decorations and ornaments are out of harm’s way. The Lady of the Manners is sure you would like to show off your prized possessions, but is just as certain that you don’t want them damaged or broken. Err on the side of caution in this instance.

In the case of drunken damage (be it broken things or spills down someone’s velvet clothing) the proper course of action is for the “injured” party to murmur something along the lines of, “Oh dear. No, no, it’s quite all right” in an unconvincing tone of voice, while the person that caused the damage apologizes profusely and offers to replace the broken item or pay for the cleaning of the garment. However, the Lady of the Manners is well aware of the fact that guests who are inebriated enough to cause havoc are sometimes not aware enough to offer compensation. The trick here is for a mutual friend of the “injured party” to remind the drunken person of their obligations once they are no longer judgement-impaired.

Of course, all of this could be avoided if the host or hostess were aware of when a guest was reaching their limit, and should be told gently but firmly that they were cut off. The Lady of the Manners realizes that there is no easy way to do this, and most people in their cups are going to deny vehemently that they are on their way to becoming drunken fools. But the person hosting the gathering must be able to stand their ground and tell someone No. Again, this all is made easier if one has a friend or two to back one up when telling someone they aren’t going to be given any more alcohol; always try to have people who are useful in such a manner at all your parties.

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3. Spontaneous Acts of Romance.

Surely, one would think, romance at a party would be a good thing? Well, yes . . . except when people are so overcome by romance that they decide to display it in an (cough) excessively expressive manner.

Some hostesses and hosts are untroubled by guests clinging to one another on a couch or some darkened corner; in fact, the spectacle usually becomes quite the topic of conversation at the party and for days to come. But for those who don’t necessarily want their furniture used to further someone else’s passion, there is nothing to be done but to interrupt the lovebirds. Yes, this can be a trifle embarrassing; the best approach is to stand near the entwined people in question and cough or clear one’s throat to get their attention. Of course, this may not work, at which point one will have to tap someone’s shoulder until one is sure of getting a response. At that point, while not looking at the people but at a point somewhere above them, say something like, “I’m sure you would be more comfortable somewhere else. Perhaps you would like to go to one of your homes?” Usually at this point the interrupted parties will realize that everyone has been covertly (or openly) watching them and spring apart. Whether they do leave together at that moment or merely decide not to continue to hang lamprey-like on each other is not that important; what is important is that they’ve stopped their impromptu floor show.

(Of course, feel free to ignore all of this if you are the sort of host or hostess to throw parties where that sort of behavior is expected. Just make sure that all of your guests are aware of What Sort of Party it is to avoid any unpleasant surprises on anyone’s behalf.)

With that, this month’s time at Gothic Charm School draws to a close. Pop by next month for more advice, but in the meantime, send any questions to headmistress@gothic-charm-school.com.

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