Building Community With Bad Dinner Parties


Something I have come to accept about myself is that I am sort of a weird hostess. I’ve been known to have a pile of people over and then get them to help me figure out a meal, and even send them running out to grab things we’re missing. Like some sort of disorganized dinner party dictator. I like to invite lots of people, strange crossovers of people, people who have never met but who I think should be friends. For a  while I just invited women, and though I’ve come to think of these as power lady parties, it wasn’t really intentional. I just like seeing these particular kinds of connection happen: amazing women meeting in a non-competitive environment full of love and excitement. I like to introduce people by listing the things they do that I admire, and then leaving them all blushing and interested in each other. I like to have men over too, don’t get me wrong, and my favourite thing is when everyone coaches each other along to make something amazing that has no recipe, and then we all sit and eat together, and drink out of mismatched cups.

I started letting people help me clean up, and that changed my life for real. One of the hardest parts of hosting used to be that moment when everyone would leave and I would feel happy but drained and then I would look around at the hurricane disaster and wonder if it had been worth it. But I was the one who would say no to offers of help, and hustle people away from the dish piles when they tried. And one day instead of doing that I just… did the opposite. I let one person help and we did the dishes together. Quickly other people came into our orbit. They laughed and tidied and it all went quickly. And we had strangely intimate conversations, I think different kinds of conversations are allowed to happen when you are sharing in a mess and a project, and because you are allowing people to give back to you for the moment you have made, and they feel anchored by purpose, and it brings everyone closer.

Over time this makes a wide net of friends who have met each other, and made food together, and danced in the kitchen late night as we cleaned up together and confessed our secrets. Community happens in all kinds of ways and places but bad dinner parties are, in my disorganized dictator opinion, one of the best.