Two weeks ago, we found ourselves at the fanciest party Nashville has to offer. Well, the fanciest party Nashville has to offer that doesn’t require a thumbprint scan and being in the same room as John Rich. Like our pal Seth Graves before us, when presented with the opportunity of an open bar and free food, we’re determined to get the absolute most out of it (even if we do spend part of the night paralyzed with indecision).
Though we wrote these tips with our specific experience in mind, you could probably apply them to the next time you’re at a SoundLand VIP party/wedding reception/bar mitzvah. Just stay cool and keep your eyes on the prize (the prize in this instance is barbecue).
Use the Valet Parking — If You Can Find It
If the party is offering valet parking, get on that. Don’t worry, the valets won’t judge you too harshly for driving a $900 piece of crap that’s littered with fast food receipts and has a mix you made for an ex stuck in the CD player. It’s cool, bro, we’ve all been there. On the other hand, if you can’t navigate the catacombs of barricaded roads and one-way streets to find your way to valet, you’re not too good for street parking just because someone wrote 75 pleasant words about your blog. Just don’t forget where you left your car. This is crucial.
Don’t Get Distracted by the Entertainment
Don’t get us wrong, we respect the many, many people who make up Nashville cover band supergroups (well maybe not The Aught Nots [jk, you guys are alright!]) but when given an option to watch the local rock & roll elite jam out to a Cyndi Lauper song or cramming ourselves full of delicious food, we’re gonna pick food every time. The fact of the matter is that you know Guilty Pleasures will be there all night, but you don’t know how long it’ll take before the hordes eat everything that the fancy yet undersupplied Italian restaurant has got to offer.
What could possibly go wrong with a gigantic tent lined with wall to wall food and endless (well, six) superhero themed cocktails? Vomiting in a chocolate fountain, that’s what.
Following up a bacon cupcake with oyster lo mien while drinking a vodka/Orange Crush concoction may sound like some classy hotness while it’s going down, but we promise you’re going to regret it. Especially when you’re feeling so disgusting that you’re forced to trade out that impressive spread of free food and booze for woefully sitting alone on a stoop, watching George Michael covers.
We suggest taking breaks. Or maybe not eating everything in sight, no matter how badly you need stale tortilla chips from the Calypso Cafe for the thousandth time. You have a choice: watch the Belmont Bruin do the Macarena to “Father Figure” while your stomach mutinys… or enjoy your evening. Decision’s yours, friends.
Choose Your Bartenders Wisely
You got your drink tickets on the way in, right? Good! Time to cash those suckers in. The lines are going to be long, but before you hop in one, take a minute to observe the bartenders. See if they’re referring back to the vodka stained recipe sheet constantly before you decide to ask them to make you a Grape Ape (that’s grape vodka and grape juice and possibly something else). You may find yourself drinking grape vodka and gingerale, which is about as foul as one would expect.
If you’re already in line and too deep to get out, don’t be afraid to abandon the idea that you’re going to be drinking one of the absurdly named mixed drinks. There’s no shame in just drinking a beer.
Stick Around Until the Bitter End
Speaking of drinking a beer, if you burn through your drink tickets (as you should), the bartenders cease to care about the ticket-based party economy as the party is wrapping up and vendors are tearing down. We all know that the bartenders don’t really want to pack up and carry out that nearly empty bottle of cherry-flavored vodka. Why not take it off their hands? Why not swipe a display beer off the table while no one’s looking? Maybe it’s gauche but at this point, but if you did it right, you should be crammed so full of free food and booze that you’ve lost all sense of decorum.
This works for other vendors too. By the end of the night, one of our companions got an entire sub from Jersey Mike’s. Another came away with basically an entire box of CSA vegetables. If you play your cards right, you’ll be living large on free food through the weekend. It’s like dumpster diving, except without the paralyzing shame that comes along with the dumpster part of that equation!
Don’t Be Afraid to Fly Solo
Just because your invitation says you can bring a guest doesn’t mean it’s required. In fact, maybe you’re better off wandering aimlessly. If we had a date, maybe we wouldn’t have had a drunken conversation about Tom Scharpling with the singer for The Ettes. The social contract can be kind of a B, y’all. That other person is probably just going to slow you down anyway. To hell with companionship! Your goal is to party and party you shall. Just don’t forget to call a cab if you couldn’t con anyone into being your designated driver.