10 Fancy-dress parties
We all love a night out once in a while. But one person’s dream night out is another person’s nightmare. Some nights out leave no room for sitting on the fence – you either love them or hate them. When the squad get together, nothing divides a room like a fancy dress theme. It might be a house party where the host has decided everybody has to dress as something beginning with the letter “C”. Some people will spend hours debating whether to go as cheese, cricketers, chambermaids or clowns, others will just cringe. It’s the same as wearing wacky team T-shirts on a night out in town. There are those who see this as an awesome icebreaker, and those who would rather spend the night trapped in a lift than have to explain why they’re wearing a T-shirt that says, “Bongo’s Barmy Army” all night.
Harmless showing off or ritual humiliation? There is no middle ground. Every group has a mic-hog who sees themselves as the next Elvis or Adele. And then there’s the one reluctant backing dancer loitering offstage…
8 Pub quiz
Being a trivia master entitles you to the ultimate level of smugness. Stand at the bar after winning, and you might adopt a sneer that says, “I’m the most intelligent person in the room and now I have a gift certificate to prove it”. The reality is, the only thing you have proved is that you know more about ’90s pop lyrics, James Bond film titles and capital cities than anybody within a four-table radius. Or perhaps just that you’re a more subtle under-the-table Googler than anyone else in the room.
7 Pool party
The manner in which you read this sentence out loud says a lot about you as a person and your views: “Oh great, a party where the dress code is bikinis and there’s a chance to dive into a pool with absolute strangers.” Were you sarcastic or heartfelt?
Your attitude to getting dressed up for a big night out reveals more about your tastes and aspirations than any online bio ever could. We’re all on a scale and we move along it depending on our mood and proximity to pay day. The scale slides from trainers and jeans in
a dive bar to bow ties and tiaras in a ballroom.
5 Comedy night
Who doesn’t like a room full of people laughing and having a good time? Well, maybe the loud mouth who sat in the front row of the comedy club and decided they had to join in and heckle the professionals. Some people just can’t sit quietly and enjoy the show.
4 Escape games
There has been a trend of late for escape games as a night out. Perhaps you’ve seen them. You and a few acquaintances are locked in a room and are not permitted to leave until cryptic puzzles are solved. The enduring popularity means there are crowds lining up to take part. But, to the uninitiated, it all sounds too much like a day at the office.
3 Trampoline park
“Let’s do something different tonight.” It all starts so innocently, yet before you know it, you’re jumping around in a warehouse full of trampolines while teenagers do somersaults over your head. It sounds like a dystopian horror story to some, while others think it’s the best way to spend their free time and money.
2 Salsa nights
Asking someone to dance is difficult enough, but then there are the city nightspots specifically for hip-shakers. They’ve stuck out the training, have a minor repertoire of moves and relish the opportunity to show off their advanced shape-throwing. But to the lead-footed, straight-backed, zombie-like creatures stomping across the dancefloor, it can be an evening of apologising and stepping on toes.
1 Networking nights
An evening that starts with a name badge being pinned to your chest and ends only once you’ve heard a dozen elevator pitches or fundamentally flawed blog ideas, would be enough to send some folk to a life of voluntarily solitude. To others, it’s a night of shared interests and self-growth.
Will Milner is a contributing editor. Have him in your quiz team, but never your karaoke squad.