I’ve never been a fan of big parties. I enjoy the small ones, the close, almost intimate conversations you have with someone throughout the night. The music in the background lingering gently in your memories of the soiree. Large parties and festivals with hundreds of people weren’t up my alley at all. But the tickets were cheap and my independence demanded I do something alone, instead of with my friends. The mood on the bus to the venue was eager. Emotions were positive, a sense of immortality danced through my veins. Everyone was friendly, smiling and laughing at each other, nothing and everything. They all seemed to know each other, or maybe they were just as excited as I was, and could be a friend. I knew no one and kept to myself mostly on the bus, too anxious to join in the fun. One party goer asked me if this was my first SP event, to which I responded it was. He clapped me on the back, asking my name, and introduced me to the group. They all cheers’d to the ‘newcomer’, welcoming me into their group of fun and pleasurable joy.
The bus dropped its drunken passengers in a field, lights and music deafened those too close and blinded those too careless. We hurried and bounced and bounded as a group to the entrance. Our tickets were taken and replaced with wrist bands, mine was pink, the man on the bus had blue, some others had green, yellow and orange. The colours of the bands matched the vibrancy of the clothes worn by the party goers. Thankfully the night was warm to complement the lack of clothing on some. The group that adopted me hurried me along with them, none of us knew each other’s name, but for that night alone, we became the best of friends regardless of who we were or what we had done. My arm was grabbed and I was pulled through stalls of foods and drink, some obscure, some familiar. We continued past fairground rides, toys and attractions. My arm was released at a dance floor, some strange electronic music played in the background and my bus companions danced drunkenly on the wooden floor beneath a starry sky. Drinks were plentiful, as were smiles, laughs and memories.
What I could only assume to be hours, passed. Alcohol was consumed, drugs were taking and the lust was profound. I danced uncomfortably as my feet and legs ached and my desire to sleep was overpowering.
“The SP is ending, head to the Amphitheatre for the final event of the night! Final sign ups are permitted,” blared over the loudspeaker, my friends headed off towards the venue, urging me to come with them. The night had been fun and despite how enervated I felt, it would be a shame to give up before the finale. I caught up to my friends which wasn’t necessary anyway as they all headed to the main stage while I was herded to a seat. With new people around me I smiled softly and drank in the excitement of those near and far.
“This your first SP event?” the girl next to me asked, grinning from ear to ear. She laughed heartily when I told her it was. “Hope you don’t like to sleep, because you sure as f**k won’t want to after tonight!” she laughed more. I smiled awkwardly, tilting my head slightly at the comment, not really knowing what she meant and feeling more nervous than excited. The theatre was huge, nearly all the party goers were in the room, aside from the ones participating in the event. They were behind the curtains on the stage. The lights were on as everyone tried to find their seats, then with a drumroll and screams from the crowd, the curtains opened, and the lights were on those facing the crowd.
The friends I had made were all on stage, smiling and laughing amongst themselves. Hundreds of people were up on stage with them, bathing in the light and supportive screams of their companions. A member went around the group with a box and they all extracted a bag, holding it close to their chest. Their excitement was less, their concern was more. The man who befriended me on the bus began to cry, the others around him patting him on the back, telling him what I can only assume is that it will be okay.
“Thank you all for coming to this year’s SP event!” the MC spoke gently to the crowd, but was met by cheering. “I hope you all enjoyed dancing, singing and partying with your friends. We’ve just passed 3 A.M, and after the finale event, make sure you get on the right bus home! Don’t want you to end up on the other side of town. Ambulances and support will be offered if necessary, but hopefully none of you faint this year! I’m sure you all enjoyed the free drugs and alcohol, and that you enjoyed the company of those you have met tonight! Those in the audience, make yourselves at home and make some friends. Thank you all again for partying at the SP!” his final word was met with applause and delight. It was true, the night had been memorable and fun.
Those on stage must have heard instructions of their own. Opening their bags that they had extracted from the box. Some had guns, some had pills, others had things I could not see. Many ropes were tied to the roof above the theatre, blades were held close to veins.
I turned to the girl next to me.
“Sorry, why is it called an SP?” I asked, already fearful of the answer.
“They come, they party, they die. We come, we party, we say goodbye. What did you think an SP was? A surprise party? No, it’s a suicide party,” she looked away from me to watch the show.
The bus ride home wasn’t as fun as the one there. Only three people remained on the bus which housed 70 to the event.
Despite it coming to dawn, and the fatigue on my body and mind being so profound, the girl was right though, I really didn’t want to sleep.