The title might seem deceiving once you hear that it was actually a 15 year old girl’s birthday party. But believe you me, as parties here go, it was right up there. People told me that the “party” is an incredibly new phenomenon here. I can understand that and see why that is the case in this culture, as I hope you would agree. The general swing of things went like this: arrive, greet the birthday girl who is standing getting her photo taken with everyone in traditional dress, then get some food and then just sit quietly and chat in the dark while music plays in the background. It’s all very civilized and restful, 15 year olds in England could do with taking notes.
Even then, despite my body remaining unsullied by toxins, there are a few details which I found a bit off-putting. The music playlist was a complete enigma. I arrived to Skrillex which I thought signaled a hormone-fueled dance floor, but no, it just served as backing to people quietly queuing up for their noodles in takeaway boxes. Then the mood of the music changed dramatically, and on came the Celine Dion, complete with Leonardo Di Caprio dialogue extracts, and then after that we witnessed another violent mood – a swift change to the harmonies of Pitbull. But what was even more peculiar about the music choice is that bar two more songs which sound like they were from a cruise ship, this playlist of five songs was repeated throughout the evening. My heart will go on indeed. And on and on. But as ever, the food was great and the company was very entertaining. All the rowing kids turned up and posed for photos with me, and then I asked them to drop a “P”, see my own photos- might try and make that a thing here.
Aside from the furious mastication of betel nuts which happens at every social and non-social occasion, a large source of entertainment proved to be the many balloons which were knocking about. I felt quite confused when the circle of chairs around me all picked up balloons and hugged them to their chest really tightly. I thought they would try and pop them, but no, they said that it’s a popular thing to do with balloons… I gave it a go though and as soon as I had a balloon in my grasp, Haisham sitting next to me whispered in dulcet tones: “Now feel the warmth of the balloon”. In a place where the temperature is never lower than 26 Celsius, getting more “warmth” from a balloon was surprisingly satisfying and probably very Freudian.
It is clear that nightlife and parties have some way to go here, but I am confident that I “hit it hard”, as I said to a friend, as much as I could have done here. I drank from the mineral water bottle, I gobbled up the food and I appreciated the music which catered for all ears. The only thing missing for me was the opportunity to throw some sick shapes.