I saw Sex and the City for the first time last week. Despite Carrie’s unbearable melodrama, I found the theatrical matter very entertaining and deeply related to a specific moment in the sequel: Big and Carrie arguing violently about Big wanting to stay home and Carrie wanting to appear at a film premiere. “You want to go out to be pushed and pushed and eat bad food?” asks Big, to which Carrie replies, “Yeah. Yes, I really want to be pushed and pushed into a crowd and eat bad food. “
Like Carrie, I’m desperate for a good soirée (without the pushing and pushing part). The clink of the champagne flutes, the unheard-of peacocks, the table politics – just a brief immersion in this seemingly lost art form would cure all of my ailments that were triggered in the past year. I even miss the thoughtless chatter! Talking about absolutely nothing of substance was something I used to hate but now desperately long for. To satisfy this desire, I visit these very physical moments in my dreams. But in the real world, I’ve opted for a temporary antidote to these parties: reading books about parties. I find these classic books by typing “novels about high society” into my google search bar. It turns out they are second best after the lived event while I’m just lifting my spirits a little. While parties aren’t necessarily always about parties, they ultimately contain the same missing elements: gossip whispers, glamorous attire, and campy fun.
The first book that began to heal my ailments bit by bit was in fact written by none other than W’s founding father, John Fairchild. His 1989 novel Chic Savages took me to the Wasp-y dirty laundry arena and educated me on the hidden codes of the ultra-rich. In a very fair way, nothing was considered taboo – including remembering the 1971 WWD review of Yves Saint Laurent’s Rive Gauche collection (it was … not positive) and the drama with the Kennedys and Kissingers . Perhaps the best piece in this book is the birth of Fairchild’s “Ins and Outs List,” in which he served as the goalkeeper of the elite from that era. The list dictated everything from which locations to donate fancy (Metropolitan Museum and New York Public Library) and which members of society were part of the crowd and were eventually invited to the scene events. Interestingly, he even notes that Donald Trump is on the “out” list because he has to relentlessly “promote himself”, but Ivana, his wife at the time, was “in” because she “spoke openly about everything, including about oneself”.
Parties and events are certainly more exciting than those that are already on the scene. In Melanie Benjamin’s novel The Swans of Fifth Avenue from 2015, the focus is on the writer Truman Capote. While most consider Capote a legendary writer, his group of friends of high society women, which included American celebrity Babe Paley, considered him more of a brother. The gay friend. With all the blurry nights described, accompanied by silly fun, Babe Paley’s beauty mist and extravagant outfits for lunch, how can you not miss any kind of social gathering? While the story is adorned with these carefree moments, the overarching theme describes Capote’s desperation for an advanced social status that ultimately led to the tragic end of his friendship with Paley. While I certainly can’t relate to it, this exaggerated drama was, I hate to say, comforting. In a post-quarantine world, it would follow, “I can’t believe this is a big deal.” But now, in what seems to be a stagnant time, I am more than happy that it is. Kaitlin Phillips, a contemporary publicist and former party reporter for The Cut, is no stranger to poking fun at social climbers. But does she miss it as much as I do? “Nobody likes a party reporter,” she says to W. “I don’t miss making enemies every time I go out, no.” (The morning after our conversation, she tweeted, “Should I start party coverage again?”)
Of course, other places also create a longing for social events and parties. Netflix seems to have the same feeling, as series like Bridgerton and documentaries about the hyper-political family cruelty in the Windsor royal family are available to stream. While we can’t even proxy to experience nightlife through someone else’s social media accounts (unless they live in Australia), these methods offer a glimpse into a missing past.
Are there bigger problems than missing parties? One thousand percent. But I think it would be naive to ignore the fabulously orchestrated part of life that seems so natural. We are social beings after all. In a time of endless doomsday on Twitter and in constant historical moments, I can miss the days when I’m worried about little things, e.g. B. where I sit at dinner or whether I adhere to the dress code of the evening. As I continue to wait patiently for the day when social gatherings will be safe again, I wonder if overcrowded ballrooms will forever be a thing of the past. Perhaps one of the greatest lessons from this pandemic is that none of these things really matter at the end of the day. But I still miss her.