As originally practised by British aristocrats, a party taking place over a period of days, rather than simply a afternoon or evening, with the participants sleeping over in guest rooms and eating, drinking, and socializing in common, often in a manor house or other Stately Home.

This suggests, to a modern ear, a rather pleasant state of anarchy, with everyone coming, going, and availing themselves at will of the swimming pool, golf course, etc. The truth is that most of these events were as rigidly scheduled as a day in High School or a Holiday Camp (wakey, wakey!), with everyone being shuttled around en masse from one activity to another (some thoughtful hosts provided printed schedules on arrival), usually centered on say, hunting, a local cricket match, or suchlike seasonal activity. Those who chose not to participate in, say, tennis or riding would be given someplace to sit (and usually some kind of refreshment as well), or less strenuous activity in the same general area, but a gracious guest was expected to at least try their hand at whatever was being offered. (The concept of social accomplishments helped a great deal in this: most of the people there had more-or-less the same skill set, and so activities became a lot more easy to plan.) In case of inclement weather, activity would be curtailed to walking (in the garden) or a motoring excursion (to a church, pub, or other local attraction), but on no account were people allowed to simply remain in the house itself. This rigidity was due to two binding constraints, one concerning servants, and the other implicit in the country home lifestyle itself.

First, even the richest families with the most devoted servants were at the mercy of law and custom regarding who worked where and for how long: since every part of the house had to be cleaned on a regular basis, and quick meals almost impossible, it simply wouldn't do to have, say, a few male guests getting up at the crack of dawn for a quick plunge, while some ladies lay in bed until noon or later. Also, while we love to picture a Lady of the Manor striding through a house full of displayed antiques, with every room awaiting only a human presence, very little of a manor house was in use at one time: to preserve what grandeur there was, much of the house was locked up, under dust covers, or simply kept bare until the few hours it would have to be on display.

House parties were most in vogue in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, latterly in the form of "weekends", forming a ready background for novelists trying to portray a range of philosophies-in-collision, such as Aldous Huxley's Crome Yellow (or a nice little murder mystery!) In the 60's and 70's they became popular again, with a lot less regimentation, in town this time, among the young and hip: see apt festival.

Yet another piece from my newspaper. Listen, they say to node what you know, and this is what I know. The first piece from my newspaper can be found in the Breakin' node.

In the early 1990s, a movie trilogy was released to the viewing public. This trilogy combined the values of education, fighting against oppression, fun and, most importantly, having a hairstyle at least ten inches tall. I am speaking of none other than the House Party trilogy (I have seen copies of House Party 4; considering, however, that it has no actors featured in the original trilogy, I decided that it was best left in its own category: horrible).

These movies should be a part of everyone's cinematic education. Whenever I bring them up, though, nobody seems to know what I'm talking about. There's no quicker way to end a conversation than to say, "Hey, do you remember the scene in House Party where he raps to avoid being sodomized in jail?"

To prevent that from happening to anyone else, I present this handy guide to the House Party trilogy. Read it, love it, and use it.

House Party (1990)

Tagline: If they get caught, it's all over. if they don't, it's just the beginning!

Starring: Christopher Reid (Kid), Christopher Martin (Play), Martin Lawrence (Bilal)

Plot Summary: Play's parents have gone out of town, and he's holding the hottest party ever. Kid wants to go, but he's grounded! On top of that, three punks (Stab, Pee Wee and Zilla) have decided to teach him a lesson! Can Kid make it to the party, avoid the punks, and still get the girl?

Personal Reaction: As a reviewer on the Internet Movie Database said, "If you're still jiggy with hip-hop, see this movie." That sentence sums the film up: it's outdated enough to be funny, and still real enough to be true. Plus, for all five of you who saw Undercover Brother, you can finally understand the reference to Kid 'N' Play. And need I mention that, in the opening sequence, they "blow the roof off [that] sucka," literally?

House Party 2: The Pajama Jam (1991)

Tagline: I'm pretty sure it's just "The Pajama Jam" again.

Starring: All of your favorites from the first, plus Queen Latifah!

Plot Summary: Kid's finally going off to college, so he can follow his dead father's wishes! But wait! Play gave Kid's tuition to a fake record executive! And Kid's girl has been brainwashed by a militant feminist! How can Play help his friend stay in school and also win back his girl? I don't know, but it probably involves a Pajama Party!

Personal Reaction: There's not much more to this than what you see up there. The punks are back, and now they're campus security, and they keep trying to hurt Kid. Or something. This movie is a little fuzzy, simply because they spend an hour leading up to the party, and half an hour on the party. It should be the other way around! Write your congressman and demand more party in your House Party 2: The Pajama Jam!

House Party 3 (1994)

Tagline: The best house party yet.

Starring: The usual suspects, plus Bernie Mac, Chris Tucker, Eddie Griffith, and TLC!

Plot Summary: "Come to a new House Party where Kid, after a lifetime 'playing the field,' falls in love and is about to get married. Playplans to throw the rockin'est bachelor party ever - until Kid's three wise-crackin' nephews come to town, intent on showing Kid and Play what parties are all about..." - Michael Oglesby, as quoted on the Internet Movie Database.

Personal Reaction: Okay, I'll come clean. I haven't seen this one. But I imagine that Kid spoils his relationship with his fiancé, and then the party helps them reconcile, somehow. The punks aren't credited, so I imagine that these "wise-crackin' nephews" are to blame for Kid's estrangement from his fiancé! It did gross $19,300,000 in the USA, so it can't be all that bad.

There you have it. The soundtrack is "kickin'", the lyrics are "fresh", and the moves are "outrageous"!

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