Departies: conceptualizing extended youth parties
Eivind Grip Fjær and Sébastien Tutenges scrutinize the research on extended youth parties to identify general changes that young people undergo at these events.
Every year, millions of young people travel away from home to party for days or weeks on end in permissive environments, such as music festivals, dance parties, and nightlife resorts. The studies that have been conducted on these extended youth parties have focused primarily on specific risk-taking behaviors, such as drug use and violence. Here, we scrutinize the research on extended youth parties to identify general changes that young people undergo at these events. We call these celebrations departies, because they center on the organization and facilitation of momentary departures from the participants’ everyday life. Participants depart (1) spatially, by traveling to locations that are constructed as sites of opportunity and excess; (2) temporally, by partying for several days in a row and focusing on immediate gratifications; (3) morally, by engaging in activities that are widely deemed immoral; (4) stylistically, by altering their stylistic expressions through dress, demeanor, and consumption; and (5) experientially, because the parties generate mood and mind alterations. These are overlapping and intertwined elements, the combination of which amounts to a distinct type of youth party. Departies constitute exceptional events in the lives of many young people, and ought to be studied from a comparative perspective.