by Julian Crosetto
I party… kind of… or at least I partied enough last year to consider myself qualified to speak on Oberlin party culture. I’ve been to raves, house shows, coop functions, and (regretfully) sports parties, and overall, I would say Oberlin parties can be pretty good. I went to a Pitzer party last year over spring break, and it was just a bunch of drunk people standing in a quart yard listening to a Bluetooth speaker, so considering that's my frame of reference, Oberlin gets pretty lit. Most of the parties I’ve been to have also had live music, which I think people need to appreciate more. Anyway, I digress; I know Oberlin isn't known for its parties, and to be honest, I do usually end up leaving after 20 minutes to watch a movie and go to bed.
Maybe this was just my experience, but last year, it felt like pulling teeth to find a party. Somehow, though, my friends and I always ended up finding one when it really came down to it. This year, however, a new resource has entered the equation. We now have, at our fingertips, Obieweekends—the anonymous events Instagram where all the Oberlin functions get promoted. Tracking down a party has never been easier. Last year my friends and I would have to search far and wide for an address, and even then, the parties would be closed, canceled, or just an all-out bust. I remember one time we heard about a Euphoria party on Union street. It was right after we finished season two, and my Raygun Uptempos (Faye’s shoes) had just arrived, so one might say we were a little excited. We show up, and it's a bunch of football players (sorry guys) standing in a room with LED lights and a speaker that we couldn’t even hear–what. That isn’t to say the parties on Obieweekends are movie-like ragers, but the increased access has absolutely made finding a good party easier.
With that, though, come some possible consequences. Some are concerned the publicizing of these events is ruining them, polluting them with first-years and generally uncool partygoers. I’d like to argue, however, that Obieweekends is not to blame for the perceived “lameness” of this year's parties. First of all, there are so many freshmen, like SO many–they are gonna fill up parties. I know it might not make for the best crowd, but we were all first-years desperately looking for a function on a Friday night at one point, so I say give them a break. I think that if someone wants to go to a party, they will find a way, so I don’t see a point in gatekeeping open parties when all it really does is make people feel like shit. Somehow my first-year self ended up in some crowded house every Friday without Obieweekends. What I’m trying to say is that I don’t think Obieweekends has drastically changed Oberlin party culture; they have just streamlined the process of finding one and taken away some of the debilitating FOMO we have surely all experienced.
That said, I’m not all hunky dory with this comprehensive, all-in-one Oberlin events page. A couple of weeks ago, my friend John was throwing a birthday party. The theme was creatures and cryptids, and it was in the arb. He posted about it on his story, so all his friends knew it was happening, and the next day I saw it on Obieweekends. It wasn’t that big a deal since it was outside, and he posted it on his story anyway, but he didn’t ask Obieweekends to post it, nor did he know they posted it. He DMed them and got it resolved, and it was all very civil and ok, but I think it's a good example of how an account like Obieweekends may be troublesome. Many parties here are closed, or, as in John’s case, the host just doesn’t want the invite going around to everyone. I’m not sure how John’s story post ended up on Obieweekends. Maybe someone sent it to them, and they thought whoever sent it had permission from John to post it. Either way, I don’t want to sound like I’m anti-Obieweekends.
As someone who enjoys the occasional basement rave, I really do appreciate their presence. I think it's unfair to place too much blame on Obieweekends for publicizing semi-private or even private events like John’s birthday. Unfortunately, the way invites get spread is like a game of telephone, and details on if the event is closed or not get lost. That’s not Obieweekends fault, it’s just the unfortunate nature of party invites that can be exacerbated by the existence of a public events page. Being a public platform with the explicit purpose of publicizing events, though, Obieweekends should be wary of which parties are public and private. I spoke with Obieweekends via Instagram, and it’s clear that they try to be. The following is pulled from my conversation with Obieweekends over Instagram (edited for grammar and format only).
JC: How did you end up running the Obieweekends account?
OW: So I ended up running the account because of the one that existed last year that I wasn’t affiliated with–I just got so sick of being the person who hits up everyone saying like “what’s the move tn?” and I figured other ppl would like to be more in the know as well.
JC: Do you think Obieweekends has changed Oberlin party culture at all, for better or worse?
OW: I have no idea if Obieweekends has changed party culture at all–I don’t have a super big following or anything, even in relation to more established Oberlin Instagrams like yikyakyeo.I figure people are going to parties either way, so why not just centralize things so it’s less of a game of who on campus you know. Within reason, I don’t want to share anything that’s not meant for a public audience, which is why I only share things if they’re sent to me or on someone’s public Instagram, and I would take anything down if anyone tells me it’s not meant to be public.”
JC: “How do you usually end up hearing about parties? Is it usually the host who tells you or just whoever?”
OW: “Finally, though, the way I hear about things is, like I said, public posts, people sending me things, or just word of mouth. I’m not the most well-connected person or even consider myself a big party person, so there’s definitely stuff that happens that doesn’t get posted because I just didn’t know it was happening. I just figure if people want the event to be on here, the DMs are open.”
Overall (and per our conversation), I think it's clear that Obieweekends is simply helping people find a place to go out. Perhaps I’m mistaken, but I haven’t noticed this year's parties being astoundingly different from last year's; I think I’m just not as into partying. What’s more, they make a good point about their following-–it's not that big. As I’m writing this, Obieweekends has 381 followers. Based on literally no data, that's less than most Obies posting party invites on their personal stories. Some are concerned that Obieweekends is overcrowding house shows, publicizing private events, and generally ruining the vibe. While there may be some substance behind these concerns, I would like to argue that Oberlin parties have been packed and invites have wound up where they shouldn’t be long before Obieweekends. Anyway, I appreciate Obieweekends for making it easier for anyone who wants to find parties to do so, so if you’ve been struggling to find somewhere to go on Friday, go ahead and give them a follow.