Last night's "hike" to see some falling stars also lead me, inexplicably, to think about the potentially forthcoming Masque of the Black Death, part 4. Just to bring those not in the know up to speed, the "Masque" is just my New Year's Eve party, my collective gift to friends and occasionally strangers that friends bring along. At the core of the party is a drink—The Black Death—made up of gin, vodka, sloe gin (maybe, changes from time to time), grape juice, grenadine, and cranberry cocktail with a little bit of soda that renders the alcohol all but untastable while providing a proof near or over 40. 40 proof and it tastes like a light fruit punch. You drink a couple of glasses, and feel really good about the world.
The first year I hosted it, I was manager at The Book Gallery, and it was sort of the holiday party for my workers with others invited. There ended up being something of a crowd (30 total, including those who just popped in for a bit) and it was undeniably a smash hit. People described it as the most fun they had had in a while, and the perfect way to end the year. People stayed for over an hour past midnight, some spent the night, and there was a lot of good vibes.
The second year, it was more lowkey. The punch was stronger (too strong, actually, probably nearly 60 proof) and the energy was more waning. The flavor in the air was a little bit rougher, but overall people still had quite a bit of fun. The number of people who showed up, including "pop-ins" was about half.
This past year, the third year, the mood was even more subdued. Every one just seemed tired. Right after the midnight (as in, 12:01 AM), most of the people left immediately. The punch was a better mix, again, but there were some spills and people hung out in smaller groups. There was also a keg, which was a neat addition, though it ended up unbalancing the person (the lowest attended, yet) to alcohol ratio severely. I spent a good amount of my time in the bedroom, just chilling out, and hugging Katie too much. May have molested Raymond, a tad. There were good memories involved, but it definitely lost that "come and be safe at Doug's place and enjoy good vibes" feeling overall. It felt more like we were at a party to be at a party, rather than a more natural outpouring of our collective friendships. Does that make sense?
I've been thinking about what to do with this year's MotBD. I just want to try and get it back to a more relaxed state. There won't be a keg. That's an either-or sort of thing, and I would prefer the Black Death to beer, though a keg of fresh Olde Towne is worth clapping for. I will be at least retweaking the Black Death back to its more original configuration, dropping the proof to a max of about 30. Maybe 40. Nothing more than that. Some sort of games will be brought back (including, of course, the Jenga game, but also possibly Cheapass Games as well). Now that my library has become my study, it will probably "closed off" and I think I will close off the guest bedroom, too, so that the two places to hang out are more populated, and people are more social yet still with room to spare. I have an idea for a different sort of resolution board, but you'll just have to wait and see. Probably/possibly movies in the bedroom, played on my computer, with some sort of videogames in the living room (Sarah and I will likely borrow a system). I also think I am going to try and invite people who have never shown up before, because the last two things I have hosted have had a handful of "newly mixed" folks, and they have both gone smashingly.
The Christmas tree will be back in the living room. The color scheme (each room had a different color, as based on the Poe short story that gave Masque of the Red Death, the Delta Chi party of a similarly themed punch, its name) will probably be overall avoided, except as mood lighting for a couple of rooms. I think I might actually aim for an actual "masque" this year. I'll wait to hear feedback on that one.
But, again, the idea is to help restimulate the mood of a fun, relaxing, and safe time to let the year go and things to help inspire the mood. We did it once, for full. I think we can do it again.
Si Vales, Valeo
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Written by Doug Bolden
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