Life of Riley: Party On, Dave.


Party On, Dave.

I'm a party person. I like to enrich my calendar with the occasional rage. If there's a turn on somewhere, I'll be there — usually in the kitchen in close proximity to the refrigerator. Although my tipple has changed over the years, I imbibe more than the odd glass.

In four states, I've partied. I've B my O G to many a domestic venue excused with such terms as "house warming", "birthday", "twenty-first" and "fundraiser". My partying has taken my ear from Bob Dylan to Arrested Development. I'm a veteran.

When Gough Whitlam stood on the steps of parliament back in '75 and told us, "Maintain your rage, Australia!" I just thought that man was so hip. All I wanted was to party on.

But what's a party person to do? When I first took up partying seriously my first stop was the ALP. I then drifted into the Communist Party in search of a crowd more my kind. Selling Tribune ("the only paper your boss doesn't own or print") and standing on picket lines seemed more fruitful than hanging around the doorway rubbing shoulders with the notables and fixing up the numbers at ALP state conferences.

Maybe I was just too keen to be where the action was, and somehow neither the CP nor Labor could put on a good turn. I'd always come home embarrassed over some incident or someone's behaviour.

But I was lucky. I could pull up after all this without so much as a hangover. Still keen to do it again, rather than partake in the hair of the dog I sought out a new crowd.

When you have some fire in your belly, you don't want it to turn into an ulcer, do you?

Back then, parties seemed to be going on all over. Each one promising to party on until a new dawn. They all raged and each one insisted that they had their own special something which made them different from their neighbour. None of them were big. A French bloke I know referred to them all as "groupuscules". It was almost as though you could call together your own party then wait and see who turned up after the invites had been posted.

Even with so many pre- and proto-parties around, there was also a line offered in Claytons — the party you have when you don't have a party. Come the moment when it was time to go out and rage there would be a wide choice to select from.

Nowadays, partying is not seen as the "in" thing to do. But I think the people who run the activity down are mistaken. Parties are the best way to maintain your rage. We all get hot under the collar every now and then. For a time we each embrace social life in a big way.

There's nothing wrong with that — I'm all for spontaneity — but there always seems to be a reason to party. Maybe the good times don't roll as often as they should and more folk than usual decide to stay at home. But if they don't turn up again, who is there to tell the tale of rages past? There's more to it than sending out for pizza.

So how would you know a good party if you came across it? The answer is simple: the one that returns to rage again and again. That's how I judge them, and I should know because I've been in a few. Maybe you'd like to join me and we could perhaps ... party on.

... Dave Riley