Sitting around my best friend’s kitchen table, eating the spaghetti bolognese his mum had lovingly made us for dinner, we developed a game plan.
If they’re not on the list, they’re not coming in.
In hindsight, we probably should’ve had an ‘alcohol’ game plan as well as a ‘gatecrasher’ one. But more on that soon.
Listen: Holly Wainwright and Andrew Daddo chat to Luca Lavigne about how parents shouldn’t fear the turbulent years with their teenager, on This Glorious Mess. Post continues after audio.
It was 6pm on a Saturday night. And, spurred by a combination of the goodness in our hearts and the promise of free beer (as payment), my best friend Hugh and I had agreed to do ‘security’ for his little brother’s 16th birthday party.
I use the term ‘security’ loosely because we’re both small, possess no formal qualification, and struggle noticeably when it comes to confrontation.
In terms of dealing with gatecrashers and drunk teenagers, we’re not exactly the dream team. Especially when you consider we’re only 19 ourselves. But the stakes were fairly high.
Hugh’s little brother had managed to convince his parents to have the party at their house.
Because the only thing more stressful than being responsible for a consortium of drunken adolescents, is if that same consortium are smashing your glassware. And spewing up Vodka cruiser on your couch.
My face when Hugh’s Mum asked if it was a good idea having the party at their house. via GIPHY.
With that in mind, Hugh and I roped in two more friends – Zak (the-easy-going-surfer) and Anna (the-no-bullsh*t-cynic) – to help keep things under control.
If only we’d done more.
18:30 – One hour ’til party. Empty ice into tubs. Also non-alcoholic drinks. Pasito and Coca-Cola. Spread tubs ’round living room and outdoor courtyard, along with plastic bottles of water.
18:50 – Inspect guest list. 78 names. Strike line through birthday boy and three mates, already inside. Upstairs. Probably drinking. Team Security (us) presented with case of beer as forward payment from Hugh’s Mum. Find Sharpie. Scrawl ‘PROPERTY OF TEAM SECURITY’. Refrigerate.
19:12 – DJ arrives. Drives suspiciously nice car, despite being on his Ps, and also DJ. Deliberate kind of money DJ earns. Conclude ‘probably more than a case of beer split four ways’.
19:21 – Sip consolation beers.
19:30 - Party 'officially' begins. Drag Team Security chairs to front porch. Develop game plan further: Hugh takes names, checks if on list; Zak checks ID, makes sure they are who they say; Anna gives stamp, because makes us seem professional; I check bags, monitor smuggling of alcohol. Birthday boy ushers parents upstairs, because embarrassed.
1932 - No arrivals yet. Drinking in park around corner. Team Security poised at door. Reminisce about being 16. Recall case of mistaken identity where Hugh was kicked out of house party after someone else named Hugh fell through wall.
19:46 - DJ starts playing. Too loud.
19:55 - Ten arrivals. At once. All boys. Very confident. Hugh panics, forgets to check if names are on list. Zak knows some of the boys, doesn't ask for identification. I'm frightened of them, forget to check bags for alcohol. Anna stamps hands. Redeems credibility of Team Security.
19:57 - Debrief on first arrival group. Identify following aspects in which we could have performed better: all.
20:25 - Steady flow of teens coming in. Team Security improving. Hugh receives text from Mum in her bedroom upstairs:
"I had a peak downstairs darl, and there seems to be a lot of alcohol. Are you letting people drink? That was not your briefing!"
We peak inside. Everyone does seem particularly wobbly descending the stairs from the dance floor to the bathroom. There's a lot of hugging. Plenty of kissing. And some other stuff I'm not super comfortable talking about.
20:30 - Birthday boy comes outside. Swaying. Calmly utters the phrase "I found cocaine in the bathroom."
Shit suddenly real. Team Security MOBILISE. This is our moment. Is it bad I'm excited? Prepare to storm bathroom. Forget have been drinking for two hours. Efforts to get up from chairs and run into party look like this
20:31 - Hugh and Zak man front door. Anna and I run into house. Bathroom door closed. Knock. Shout "It's security, open up", because I'm far too excited.
Door opens. Four girls exit bathroom. Look in their eyes similar to dog who's been caught weeing on carpet.
Enter bathroom. Open cabinets, shake folded laundry. Can't find cocaine. Ponder questions such as...
- Where is cocaine?
- Why are 16-year-olds doing cocaine?
- How did they afford it?
Discover why girls were guilty. Three squeezy yoghurt tubes hidden between towels. Filled with alcohol. Open, squeeze vodka-juice concoction down sink. Feel 16-year-old self shaking his head.
Sweep finger across ledge. White powder sticks to finger. FOUND COCAINE. Examine meticulously.
Not cocaine. Washing powder.
20:37 - Back on door. Group of eight girls entering. Hugh checks names against list. Zak doesn't check IDs because he wants to impress them. I look in bags but find tobacco and contraceptive pills. Anna stamps hands.
21:00 - Everything quiet outside. Check on party inside. Confiscate flask of Smirnoff vodka and 2L wine sack filled with pre-mixed piña colada. Back outside.
21:20 - Kids coming out in droves. Standing in groups on footpath. Smoking.
They're in groups of ten or fifteen, churning through cigarette, after cigarette, after cigarette. I'm not sure how. Or why. It seems smoking is so ill-advised; so health-threatening and rarely seen and 'out' within society as a whole... that it's suddenly cool. It's suddenly unique. It's suddenly back 'in'.
Finished smoking. All allowed back in because hands are stamped. Anna makes remark about how she's best at this security thing.
22:05 - DJ pumping tunes. Word from inside: boy projectile vomiting. In bath tub. Parents called. Mum arrives in car and waits outside. Friend of vomit boy helps vomit boy into car. Gets vomited on. Takes off shirt. Keeps partying.
22:40 - Kids filing out. Many stumbling. Friend of vomit boy on dance floor. Still without shirt.
23:00 - Party winding down. Kids walking out. Find myself saying "thanks for coming", which is odd given it's not my house.
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Have you ever hosted a flock of teenagers in your house? Would you let your child have their 16th at home? What are your rules around drinking? Let us know in the comments below.