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A house party is typically a type of party where medium to large groups of people gather at the residence of the party’s host. In modern usage, a house party is typically associated with teenage or young adult crowds, loud music, dancing, and the consumption of alcohol or other recreational drugs. Historically, the term has also referred to more genteel gatherings at country estates, lasting anywhere from several days to weeks. A house party might be organized several months, down to just a few hours, in advance. News of a party is often spread by word of mouth, the sending of formal invitations, or on social networking websites like Facebook. In the case of the latter, the host must be particularly careful of how public the information regarding the party is made. There have been cases where hundreds of people have turned up to a party they found out about on the internet without knowing the host personally, causing massive damage to the house or the items within it. In the United Kingdom, such an occurrence may be referred to as a ‘Skins’ party, named after a well-known TV show set in the English city of Bristol focusing on the lives of teenagers who often participate in and host such parties.
A person who attends a house party, but has not been invited, is typically referred to as a “gatecrasher”. Such an activity is usually perceived negatively, although more liberal hosts may permit gatecrashers, depending on their behaviour. In some instances house parties do not attract large crowds, and with ten or fewer people are often referred to as a ‘gathering’. An early example of a house party can be seen in the play Mostellaria (The Haunted House) by the Roman playwright Plautus. In it a young man called Philolaches is having a great time while his father is away on business. House parties have become a prominent feature in popular movies, particularly movies aimed at teenagers. While many have probably been present before the movie, Animal House is one of the first to properly provide a scene of a house party.