Are themed parties discriminatory?

Tafadzwa Zimoyo Lifestyle Writer

When Tino heard that her cousin Phil would be throwing his 32nd birthday bash in Avondale, Harare, she was thrilled and vowed not to miss the party.She made it a point to brag to everyone she knew and on social media that she was finally going to be one of those esteemed guests to grace the high table at a high class do. Phil, the engineer whose return to Zimbabwe was also coinciding with his birthday, had promised a gig to outshine all others.

But her high spirits soon sagged and wilted like a flower in the sun after her daughter Rutendo informed her that Phil’s birthday bash was not like any other birthday party she had attended in her lifetime.

This one was a themed occasion, with a lot of restrictions, while the number of invited guests was limited to a certain number.

When she heard that the guests at the party were expected to adhere to a certain dress code, whose colours red and white were not to be breached, she felt hopeless and felt despair crawling all over her.

“How on earth do they expect people to pump out money buying clothes which they require just to be at a mere birthday party?

Are these people still in their proper senses, especially my cousin Phil whom I suspect all these Western ideas have ruined his head?

What do they need a “uniform” for at a birthday party? Last month, I bought a school uniform for my grandchild, and now I am broke and these people come up with these weird ideas of theirs?”

Welcome to the world of themed parties, where dress code, c, décor, types of presents, number of people expected to attend, their type as well as the taste of music, are all themed.

Nowadays, if you can’t afford to acquire clothes that suit a given colour theme, then don’t be surprised to see yourself being turned away at the entrance despite you being the blood sister of the guy who is throwing the party.

But where did this idea of themed parties come from, and what is their significance?

“The idea of themed parties started as a preserve of people in the Western world.

The whole idea was to make the parties unique, memorable, and in most cases most of these themes were meant to show what kind of a person the party thrower was.

Those who chose gold, silver, grey or platinum were showing the world their level of wealth or affluence, and sometimes this could be capped with a lot of jewellery, which they required everyone to wear to the parties.

“Even the music could just be old school, a reflection of the level of maturity or age of the host,” noted Tafadzwa Nyabanga — an insurance broker based in Highlands.

Coming back to Zimbabwe, the likes of businessman Genius Kadungure, Vanessa Sibanda, Craig Zoowie, among others are known to throw their own themed parties, with some of Kadungure’s “all-white parties” taking the cherry when it comes to hype.

Sometime ago, when Suluman Chimbetu was launching one of his albums at the venue of the old Jazz 105 in Harare’s CBD, it was also themed with red and white colours.

However, some people feel the idea of themed parties is discriminatory.

“I think this whole idea of forcing people to adhere to a certain dress code with specific colours is discriminatory since people won’t afford to come in the clothes mentioned for the event. The also applies to the presents which could be of certain specifications by the host.

This is not fair, considering the harsh economic times we are living in. A party should be flexible and accord people the freedom they deserve for as long as they keep within the confines of the law,” noted Mathias Matonho.

He added: “By being restrictive, I also suspect that some sinister activities like sex-romps, drugs and alcohol binges will be going on behind the closed doors.”

Matonho and others who belong to his school of thought believe that themed parties don’t serve any purpose at all and have killed the value of social cohesion that was brought by the more liberal parties of yore.

“I don’t see any reason why my mom or dad should not be allowed to my party simply because they are not dressed in the colours that are required by my party organisers.

“In the past, parties were one special occasion where family members could hook up, get down to some family discussions in a merry mood, but all that bond has been broken thanks to the infamous themed parties that separate people on the basis of a small inconsequential thing,” Matonho said.

One events organiser begged to differ.

“There is nothing sinister with themed parties. We are just moving with the times. Why not add a bit of class, working well with the colour coordination you want. Celebrating one’s birthday is a special event that is meant to be shared with loved ones.

“As we get older, formal events seem to become more and more rare,” said the events planner.

But it is inevitable that Zimbabweans who have never been good at reading instructions on invitation cards will not always adhere to the themes. Just like people ignore stated dress codes, bring along extra guests and their kids to adult only parties, some party poopers seem bent on destroying the mood by turning up in any clothes that take their fancy.

The events planner we spoke to says that some themed parties rock while others flop because of the choice of theme.

“You need to pick a colour that people can relate to. Like you cannot pick a pastel colour when bright colours are the trend. Who will want to own a peach outfit that they would not want to ever wear again. But when you take white, black, gold, red, silver and such colours, those are classic and people might not even need to go shopping for your function,” he advised.

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