“I'm free the Saturday after that. Beyond that, I'm going to have to check my calendar.”
Date & Time: March 24 is coming up, and thematically, there is no better time for a party based on one of the most watchable movies of the '80s. As the kids’ parents come to pick them up, and as John Bender struts across the football field, we hear Brian Johnson begin reading the essay he was roped into writing: “March 24, 1984. Shermer High School.” Ideally, you would throw this party on Saturday, March 24 at 7 a.m., but the next time March 24 falls on a Saturday is 2018, and the next time your friends are showing up for a party at 7 a.m. is never. Sunday, March 24, on the other hand, is right around the corner, and since food will be important, might I suggest making it a lunch do? An evening Breakfast Club party just feels wrong.
“Does Barry Manilow know you raid his wardrobe?”
Dress Code: As a lover of Halloween parties, I'm a firm believer in encouraging guests to dress up, and have in fact showed up in costume to what I thought was an '80s-themed party. (It was not, but who cares?) The outfits all but take care of themselves, and your guests don’t have to limit themselves to the titular five characters — there’s also Carl the Janitor (janitor uniform) and Principal Vernon (cheap suit, toilet seat liner hanging out the back). If you want to expand upon the theme, you could simply note that guests should dress as: a brain, an athlete, a basket case, a princess, or a criminal. You could even tweak it — what would these people look like in 2013, 28 years after high school? (Feel free to take as many liberties as real life does: Anthony Michael Hall, for instance, now looks kind of like a meathead.) The possibilities for dressing up are nearly endless: one creative friend of mine is planning a skirt made of torn-out pages of Molière plays. (Her explanation: “Mol-ay really pumps my nads.”)
Only Unacceptable Costume: Ally Sheedy post-makeover. That is a turned-away-at-the-door offense.
"You won’t accept a guy’s tongue in your mouth, but you’ll eat that?"
Food: Again, this element almost takes care of itself. A few musts—
Sushi (rice, raw fish, and seaweed). PB and J with the crusts cut off. Soup. Apples. Bananas. Many sandwiches. A big bag of potato chips, and one of chocolate chip cookies. A deconstructed baloney sandwich, reconstructed with Cap’n Crunch and Pixie Stix. Cans of Coke. Terrible, disgusting-looking coffee.
“What’s your poison?”
Other Refreshments: Vodka. When would you drink vodka during an afternoon party? Whenever. How much should you have on hand? TONS.
Also, if your dope is in Johnson’s underpants, now might be the time to retrieve it.
“Won't you come see about me? / I'll be alone, dancing, you know it, baby”
Music: This is not as much of a no-brainer as you might think. If you sit down and really listen to the soundtrack, it soon becomes apparent that “Don’t You (Forget About Me)” is the only song on it that has held up to the test of time. You’ll have to dig a little deeper, looking for contemporary chart toppers (“Don’t You (Forget About Me)” was preceded at the top of the Billboard charts by Madonna’s “Crazy for You” and succeeded by Wham!’s “Everything She Wants” — you could do worse), other tracks propelled to fame by John Hughes (Psychedelic Furs’ “Pretty in Pink”), or songs referenced by The Breakfast Club itself (David Bowie’s “Changes” is used as an epigraph, John Bender hums Cream’s “Sunshine of Your Love,” and Allison has for some reason brought a Prince LP to Saturday detention). Feel free to crib some era-appropriate tunes about teenage angst from this partial playlist: Throw This Party: The Breakfast Club.
“You will not move from these seats. And you will not sleep.”
- Hump the Hostess. Oh wait. WRONG MOVIE.
“You ask me one more question and I'm beating the shit out of you.”
- Totally ’80s Trivial Pursuit. I’m not saying you have to go out and buy a copy, but if you happen to have one already, this is a golden opportunity to bust it out and impress your friends.
“Would you drive to school naked?”
- What Would You Do for a Million Bucks? Sort of like Truth or Dare, but all Truth, and only one question. And lying is totally allowed. Encouraged, even.
“And when I say essay ... I mean essay. I do not mean a single word repeated a thousand times.”
- Exquisite Corpse Essay. Everyone begins writing an essay describing who they think they are (in character). After a few minutes, fold the top of the paper down to hide all but the last line of writing, pass it to the person sitting next to you, and continue the essay you’ve been given, based only on what you can see. After five or six passes, read each essay aloud. Ehh?
“Everybody can do something...”
- Bizarre Talent Show. Put lipstick on with your cleavage. Write with your toes. Tape everybody’s buns together. Shatter glass doors by shouting. Design a ceramic elephant lamp that lights up when you pull its trunk. If you can do that last one, you're totally invited to my party — I've never been able to reconcile the idea with what is possible in a high school shop class.
“We are not alone!”
- Dance Party. This works best if your party place has climbable surfaces.
“Why don’t you take Allison to one of your heavy metal vomit parties?”
- Heavy Metal Vomit Party. I have no idea what this would entail, but hopefully (?) it would involve both heavy metal and vomit.
“You know, you really do look a lot better without all that black shit under your eyes.”
“I like that black shit.”
Only Unacceptable Activity: Makeovers. An ejectable offense.
“By the way, that clock's twenty minutes fast.”
Evening parties can linger on long after the hostess has fallen asleep on a pile of coats, but after a few hours of '80s nostalgia, your guests will, no doubt, be hungry for dinner. If you can arrange for a shrill school bell to ring them out, so much the better. Afterward, call your parents to see if they’ll clean up for you (hide the vodka bottles) while you catch up on everything you have to do for Monday morning...
Previously: The "Throw This Party" Archive
Elise Nussbaum lives in Jersey City, and will seize any and all opportunities for dressing up in costume.