How will you be the best version of yourself this NYE? 12 gyaanis share partying rules
The modern rules of house party etiquette shared by the most creative, fashionable and famous names of Mumbai. What's not to follow?
Organise transport for those who drink
Says: Keshav Suri, hotelier
As the brain behind India's inclusive nightclub, Lalit heir Keshav Suri is no stranger to wild gatherings. Kitty Su hosts offbeat parties for thousands of excited, euphoric guests and sometimes, things spin out of control. Suri suggests controlling the mayhem creatively if the party is a large one with more than 50 guests. "A well curated night, with avant garde performances ensures that the guests have enough entertainment and do not feel the need to indulge in something that can spoil the fun." The vivacious entrepreneur and activist says that a host should never compromise on the safety of guests. "It's best if the host makes safe travel arrangements so that guests are not compelled to drink and drive," he says.
Don't fake talk about wine
Says: Nikhil Agarwal, CEO, All Things Nice
Sommelier Nikhil Agarwal prefers keeping multiple options of wine ready for his guests, sparkling, white and red, so that he can offer them a choice. "If you are serving wine, ensure that they are always at the right temperature. Otherwise, even your best bottle will not impress. And be careful about the glassware, spotless and accurate." If you are the guest, heading for a house party, carrying a bottle is always a good idea. "Give what you can from your heart and what you truly believe is good. If the host has made a selection of wines, feel free to ask more about them and taste everything. Don't fake it if you don't know much about wine. It's okay to not know and simply enjoy," he says.
Serve vodka jello shots
Says: Avantika Malik, owner and mixologist, Mizu
For ace party thrower, Avantika Malik, a well stocked bar is half the battle won. "Beer, wine, whisky and vodka are generally the most popular, although gin is a hit too. Ice is important to stock as are mixers. Also, when in doubt, go for jello shots. They are easy to make by using store bought jelly mix and vodka. They elevate a house party." If you wish to carry something for the hosts, wine or champagne work well. "Though a nice single malt or even a liquor like Amaretto could work for a change. For me, the most important thing to do as a guest is help onself at the bar, have an open mind and try new things if they are on offer. In the end, it's about having a good time. The drinks should certainly help, so go get one!"
Have a nook for the dancers
Says: Michaela Talwar, creative producer and art curator, Harkat Studios
Michaela Talwar and Karan Talwar. Pic/Sameer Markande
Michaela and Karan Talwar's parties are legendary among the theatre crowd. Usually, the couple throws a Christmas party, but this year, they are planning a New Year's eve bash, which includes a guestlist of the artistes they have worked with this year, clients, and old friends. "I watched a German documentary about bouncers at clubs, and they said that their most important job was curation. Who you call TO the party is of utmost importance. And mulled wine, of course!" says Michaela, who makes a batch of the heady drink every year herself, along with cinnamon roast and German red cabbage soaked in wine. "The vibe should be relaxed and there will always be people you have never met before. And try having a place for those who want to sit around and chat, and a nook for guests who want to dance."
Be open to starting a conversation
Says: Jim Sarbh, actor
Jim Sarbh laments that it's getting tougher to find new people to meet at parties. Because, in the end, what's important is having a good conversation. "I say, walk up to people, say, 'hey, what's up?' and talk," he suggests. Even politics? "It's been a bit tricky on that front recently. I have had a few heated conversations about CAA." But that aside, Sarbh is insistent that mostly everyone you meet is capable of an intelligent and emotional conversation. You just have to zero in on a subject that's interesting. "I throw around topics, and the one they avoid, is the one I pick up. Let's talk about what people don't respond to," he says cheekily, then adds, "At a party, be open to hearing. Everyone has some depth of knowledge about some issue that you may know nothing about."
Don't turn up sharp on time
Says: Mortimer Chatterjee, gallerist, Chatterjee and Lal
Mortimer Chatterjee believes in perfect timing. When he was to attend a party in London, he turned up an hour late. "And people don't do that in London. It was awful. My watch had stopped working," he tells us. But, according to him, rules are different in Mumbai and Delhi. "In Mumbai, if you turn up too early, chances are, your host might still be in the shower. If you turn up too late, everyone will think you are a party pooper since they are already in the spirit. So, if the party starts at 8 pm, reach the venue 45 minutes later. This way, you will not look like a complete idiot," he adds. Another observation Chatterjee has made since he arrived in India 20 years ago is "people don't drink too much". "Be prudent about how much you drink. People are drinking lesser now. And that is good; nobody wants to see a guest puking their guts out."
Don't turn up very late
Says: Shriya Pilgaonkar, actor
"The ice breaker at a party where I don't know anyone is usually to chat about how I don't know anyone, and ask the rest how they know the hosts. Ice broken, done!" laughs Shriya Pilgaonkar. Just for that reason as well, she likes to be at and throw intimate parties where everyone knows everyone. But if you are turning up at someone else's house party, she suggests, "Don't be late! You want to have fun with everyone together, right, so being on time is important."
Pick separates that speak of who you are
Says: Shyma Shetty, designer and co-founder, Huemn
For Shyma Shetty, comfort is key. It's a thought that reflects even in her label's clean, easy aesthetic. These days, when the temperature has dipped just a wee bit, she suggests you try a layered look to the party you are going to. But what will have you stand out in the crowd is individuality. "The beauty of fashion is that it speaks about you, so that if someone meets you for the first time, they know exactly who you are," says the designer. Shetty doesn't go for 'outfits'. She suggests buying separates that can be paired intelligently so that it's the person who stands out and not the brand. "That's what you want right? To be noticed for who you are. But to make sure you leave an impact, wear one element that's unique. It can be a pair of OTT jeans or something with cool embroidery. And always wear what fits you right, and lets you breathe. After all, dressing is about being happy."
Ask before bringing a plus-one
Says: Zareen Khan, actor
Zareen Khan taking on trolls bodyshaming her is common knowledge. Not many, however, know that when put in a social setting, she yearns to crawl back to solitary life. For close friends, though, she is a party animal. "This is because I choose to chill with people I've known for long. There is comfort around them," she says. Which is why if you are going to a party hosted by buddies, rules needn't apply. But elsewhere, it's best to display polite behaviour, including, asking the host if you can bring along a plus-one. "I hate it when people tag along without the knowledge of the host. It's uncool. And when I am playing host, I always prefer being told in advance. Party dynamics are important. What if one guest can't see eye to eye with another?"
Throw in a listening segment
Says: Salim Merchant, musician
The announcement of Section 144 in Bengaluru has resulted in composer-singer Salim Merchant cancelling his concert in the garden city. So, this New Year's eve, he has decided to stay home. Merchant says, give some thought to the music you will play. "At my own parties, I invite guests who are open to all kinds of music genres. Sometimes, I get on the piano and play a piece, and it's often that another guest takes over eventually." If you know you have a musically inclined crowd coming over, he suggests you throw a "listening party". "It's like open mic, but slightly different. Rarely do people who are into music, get the time to listen to new work. So, one section of the night can be dedicated to everyone sitting around a person who wants to share a video, song or composition. Music is all about listening. Be open to new ideas, lift the mood and enjoy the party."
Try everything, OD on nothing
Says: Pooja Dhingra, pastry chef and founder-CEO, Le 15
Pooja Dhingra lists confusion over the menu as the top party spoiler. Not knowing whether to go with a variety of starters or focus on the main course, or pick multiple cuisines over one, is the problem. "The answer depends on the kind of party you want to host. For a sit-down dinner, focus on the main course. If your guests are going to be on their feet, a bunch of starters are a great way to ensure the conversation flows," she thinks. When it comes to cooking, Dhingra says it's safe to not experiment. "Stick to what you are good at." When going to another host's party, pace out your food and drinks. There's usually a wide variety of food to be had, so don't stuff yourself before you get the chance to try everything. If you see a dish that you don't recognise, check what is being served. At times, there might be a specific way to eat it, and it's best to err on the side of caution."
Invite guests who connect with each other
Says: Srila Chatterjee, founder of furniture and textile store Baro
Srila Chatterjee is known among her friends as the chic hostess, whose home is a treasure trove of artsy knick knacks sourced from all over the country. A hit shindig, according to Chatterjee, has guests who can connect with each other, "because it's the people who make a party". "If you care about your guests, you will make an effort. You won't be getting dressed when they come, or order food from a standard number." Chatterjee prides herself on never having hired a caterer, and cooking all she serves at home, except for specific dishes. "At Christmas, we had an old-fashioned family party where nears and dears came together, children included. It's the way I grew up in Calcutta, and it felt the same. The table groaned with food all made at home except for Mrs Rocha's ham." she says, adding, "Whether it's a family (and other animals!) gathering or a wrap party for a shoot, the most important thing is keeping people connected. They must all properly meet. I hate parties where you only meet the people you know."
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