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An ode to the basement party

A reflection on its paradoxical charm
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Basement parties are an unorthodox cultural melting pot, and one of the many things COVID-19 took. MEAGAN TAYLOR/CC FLICKR
Basement parties are an unorthodox cultural melting pot, and one of the many things COVID-19 took. MEAGAN TAYLOR/CC FLICKR

During this disconnected year, I often reflect on a lot of aspects of pre-COVID-19 life: window shopping at the mall on a busy Saturday or waiting in a line at the Robarts Library Starbucks that stretches all the way into the study room. Most of all, I miss the feeling of ice-cold concrete in someone’s basement while bass-boosted hip hop plays on a Bluetooth speaker.

The basement party is a cultural time-share. We’ve all been there and either loved the vibe or wanted to leave immediately — or went back and forth on those feelings as the night raged on. I’ve been to my fair share of basement parties — mostly against my own will after being dragged by my friends — and I did enjoy them for the most part. I liken basement parties to the Canadian health care system; they are painfully average, but I’ll still take part regardless. 

Growing up in Brampton, Ontario, basement parties were synonymous with high school and university life – it was like déjà vu no matter which party you were at. There was always a pile of Nikes and Vans at the front door, meaning it would take you ages to find your pair at the end of the night. Every floor was a sticky mess made up of cheap liquor and soda. The music was always just loud enough to make any conversation nearly impossible. 

If you’ve never been to a basement party, this mixture must sound atrocious to you, but you’re mistaken. I miss basement parties every single day. I can’t wait for a vaccine to pierce my arm so I can go back to the smelly, hell-like stupor that happens in those basements. 

In a co-dependent way, I’ve come to appreciate how basement parties act as a cultural melting pot. Nowhere else will you hear top-40 pop transition into Bhangra music that will transition into dancehall or any other cultural concoction of music. Basement parties bring everyone together; they bridge the great divide of modern times. 

The dingy, sunken cushions of the unsettlingly hot couch on the main floor of the party provides a stage for intellectual discussion that you can’t find anywhere else. Where else will you find a guy who watches too much Joe Rogan debating with someone who’s dozing off after drinking far too much and arguing over the most inconsequential cultural topics? 

While getting a breath of smoke-filled air on the porch, you get a beautiful view of brand-name cars — all of which are being paid for with suffocating long-term loans. What I’m trying to say is, you won’t find a better picture of North American culture than at a basement party. 

Once all of the restrictions are lifted, and we can finally erase the physical distance between each other, I look forward to basking in the embrace of the basement party. It’ll be nice to see what my peers have been up to, but most of all, I can’t wait to soak up the dim lights of the unfinished basements across my hometown.