The Social Introvert’s Guide to House Shows

Are you an introvert? Do you get uncomfortable and a little sad at parties? Does small talk make you want to punch a wall? Fear not, my little wallflower, this handy guide will take you from shrinking violet to party pro in no time (Results not typical. Individual results may vary.).

So, you’re going to a house show. Let’s assume you got invited because there’s no way you’d just show up to a party. Hey, this is great! People want you to be there—even if it’s in a vague facebook invite kind of way.

First things first. Let’s assess the situation. House shows are like parties, but better because they have focal points. Music! How wonderful! You get to be in a hot basement with strangers, and it’s cool if you don’t talk to people because you’re ~listening~ to the tunes. Things are already on your side! It’s a good idea to have some sort of game plan. Who are you going with? If possible, try to go with buds who know you get a little frazzled in these scenes. And this goes without saying because it’s Introverts 101, but plan how long you want to stay. A minimum of 15 minutes is probably safe. But hey, maybe try staying a little longer. Again, there’s going to be music, so don’t worry too much.

Alright, it’s the night of the EVENT. You’ve put on your favorite shirt, you’ve brushed your teeth, and now you’re outside of the house. This is one of the hardest parts. I know it feels very weird to just waltz into someone’s house, but this is what the youths do! I know right now you feel like turning around and retreating into your bed to binge watch True Detective, and I’m not going to judge you if you make that call. But maybe, give it a try, walk into that stranger’s house. Find your way into the basement and plant yourself conveniently close to the door.

At this point, you can give yourself a little pat on the back. You made it inside. You’re officially here. Who goes to house shows? You do! There’s a band and people are bopping around. So far so good. But wait, don’t get too comfortable. Here comes the set change. One band is done and now you have about 15 minutes to kill before another band is ready. Time to break out the party games.

First, this is a great time to get a refill or use to bathroom. Not drinking? Rather not use the bathroom that clearly hasn’t been cleaned since 1978? Alright, let’s play a little game I like to call “what’s in this cabinet?” Make your way to the kitchen. Careful, that couple feverishly making out in the hallway is not going to move on your account. First, are there any snacks readily available on the counter? Is that a bag of mini donuts I see? Go for it! Next, check the cabinets. What could you assemble from the ingredients at your disposal? You could definitely make some pasta. Weigh the pros and cons of becoming That One Guy Who Made Spaghetti Bolognese At The Party. You could become a legend, but that isn’t really your style. And by the time you decide that there isn’t enough pasta to feed this house full of drunk people, the next band is ready to go.

Phew, hey, this isn’t so bad! You’re digging the music, you’re wiggling around a bit. Feelin’ loose. Then the music stops. The bands are done. All of the sudden the connection you were feeling with this group of people has evaporated into the night like that kid to your left’s e-cig vapor. I know you want to hit the road, but maybe try mingling a bit. You’re interesting! People like you! This is what college is all about: making conversation with inebriated people you’ll likely never see again. You’ve got this. Remember to stick to the predetermined script of collegiate small talk. Where are you from? What’s your major? What do you want to do? I know, I know, you hate conversations that lack substance, but you have to start somewhere. When in doubt, keep asking questions. Pretend to be an investigative journalist or Ira Glass or something. However you make conversation remember the single most important thing is DO NOT UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCE TELL PEOPLE THAT LARGE PARTIES MAKE YOU FEEL EMPTY INSIDE. It’s a rookie mistake. This is not an effective way to make friends.

If you’ve successfully avoided saying anything weird/sad, then the night was a success. Now you can really celebrate. Go get yourself a milkshake! You did it, champ! Since you used up all of your energy, feel free to spend the rest of the weekend by yourself. You’ve earned it. And hey, in another two weeks, you’ll be ready to get back out there and do it all over again!

On any given night in Bloomington, there are at least 300 house shows happening. They’re a great way to see some awesome bands for cheap. I know, my little introvert, it can be a bit stressful. But you’re doing it for the music—the noblest of causes.

Be safe. Be social. Best of luck.