The student newspaper at elite New York private school Horace Mann, The Record, recently published some great features on
outlandish student-run club parties that make up a key part of the Manhattan private school social scene.
The New York Post picked up on some of the juicier aspects of these parties — where “teens rub against each other, lock lips and flash skin while dancing to the boom of techno beats” — for a pair of articles this week, but failed to address how they actually happen.
How these parties come together is maybe the most interesting aspect of the whole scene. One of the best parts of The Record’s coverage was their detailed account of throwing a “fest.” The parties are not sanctioned by the school, and they’re completely student-run, from planning to financing to running it day-of.
Here’s a breakdown of how these parties come together, based on The Record’s reporting and my own experiences as a student at Horace Mann, from which I graduated in 2009.
Party organisers are responsible for finding and booking a venue — usually a loft space or nightclub (a recent Halloween Homecoming fest took place at 1OAK) — which can come with a multi-thousand dollar down payment. One student told The Record that he paid the $US5,000 down payment on a space using money he made as a summer camp counselor. Because the organisers are seniors, they’re almost always 18 years old, and legally allowed to sign contracts on their own.
This, of course, comes with some risk. Because these student organisers are 18, they can be tried as adults if anything illegal is discovered, from public intoxication of one of the party goers to underage distribution of alcohol if some enterprising teenager manages to sneak booze into the party — which is explicitly dry.
The organisers make their money back — and then some — by selling tickets to fellow Horace Mann students and teens from other NYC schools (who usually pay a bit of a markup). At the end of a party, The Record reports, an organiser can take home over $US1,000 in profit.
Ticket prices descend depending on what grade you’re in, from around $US40 for freshmen to $US20 for seniors. Students in all grades distribute the tickets, as they better know the underclassmen market, and pocket the difference between what they’re able to sell them for and the base price they owe the seniors.
Ticket distributors get a discount for buying in bulk from a senior organising the party, and can make a profit of $US5-$10 per ticket, as well as getting their own for free. The underclassmen students who are best at selling the tickets throughout the school usually inherit party-organising duties for the next year, when the process starts over again.
During the party, the organisers make sure everything runs smoothly. They man the door to make sure no one without a ticket gets in, but also to ensure that no one who is visibly intoxicated makes it in to the party. There is also hired security to make sure everything functions OK and party attendants stay safe.
While not all of the parties are shut down, it certainly happens often enough that anyone interested in profiting off of their peers’ social lives would be well aware of the potential costs.
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