The house is packed with dancing and laughing people. Music thumps from the sound system, and the alcohol flows freely.
It is excess. It is America. It is Gatsby.
It is also every good college party you've ever been to.
The Fitzgeraldian world of the Roaring 20s in his novel "The Great Gatsby" has been inspiring parties since the time period itself with its emphasis on wealth and good liquor; more recently, Baz Luhrmann's adaptation has been inspiring ragers in the Fort since its release in May.
Last weekend I attended probably my third or fourth "Gatsby"-themed party this year, a birthday party for a close friend. You know the ones: cue the plastic champagne flutes, feathered headbands and fringed flapper dresses.
While at the party, I overheard several girls commenting on each other's attire – most had the 20s-style dresses already in their wardrobe for such an occasion as this, remnants of previous large parties. The fad warrants a comparison.
"The Great Gatsby" is a great American novel, the story of a man ruined by his greed while the wealthy people who are somewhat to blame get off scott-free. And also, the parties.
Luhrmann, who is famous for his stylized visions of extravagance, creates disturbingly gorgeous and enticing scenes in his film. The men, with their slicked-back hair, are gallantly charming. Jordan Baker is mysteriously glamorous, floating around the party with envy-inducing confidence. And Daisy Buchanan is, well, Daisy Buchanan.
They consume with no consequences, giving themselves over to bacchanal revelry. And every weekend the people come to the Gatsby mansion and do it all over again.
It does not seem unlike what happens on any given weekend in the Fort or in the various other student housing options.
Around 3 a.m. the night of my friend's party, I prepared to leave. Taking one last glance around the room, I was struck by the wreckage and how much it reminded me of the film playing on mute on the flat screen TV.
Glitter and confetti coated the floor, which was sticky with cheap liquor and the effects it produced. A couple people were passed out on couches. And still the music played on, though the Pandora station had been switched to something more melancholy.
I'd had a great time – enjoying some much needed stress relief from the classes that had kicked into high gear. Yet the scene of the end of that party, once the set for a night of inhibition and great stories, still struck me as incredibly sad.
There is no self-righteous moral to this story, no worst-case scenario to convince you of the errs of the partying lifestyle, no hypocritical critique of today's young people.
You are young. You are free. Go and make your mistakes and earn your success.
Just remember that the party always ends.
Claire Dodson is a junior in English. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.