Seniors make profits by throwing private parties

Barely reaching the parking lot of a small liquor store in the Valley, the light from a boulevard lamppost splashes a dim orange tint on Sean’s* ’07 unshaven face. He has just spent $600 for 12 bottles of Smirnoff Vodka, 200 Natural Ice beers, and 10 bottles of champagne.

“We give them our money and they load the alcohol in the back of the car,” Sean’s business partner Phil* ’07 said. “No questions asked. They don’t even card us.”

The previous night Phil had sent out an invitation for a house party to 206 Harvard-Westlake students over Facebook, an internet social networking site.

Phil and Sean have a reputation for throwing house parties and have created an efficient system for their bashes complete with bartenders, bouncers and a cover charge.

So far this year they have thrown five parties, including a New Year’s Eve extravaganza where they made a profit of more than $500.

“There was nothing to do on the weekends, so we decided to take an initiative and provide the entertainment,” Phil said. “We usually choose weekends where nothing is going on or special occasions like the first night of winter break.”

The process starts during the week before the party. If there is an idle Friday or Saturday night, Phil and Sean will start spreading the word that they are looking for a student’s house where the parents will not be home.

“At first I was skeptical of the idea, but they guaranteed me that the house wouldn’t be left in ruins,” said a junior student who allowed a party at his house. “They are really efficient and my house wasn’t destroyed in the process.”

After finding a willing student, the pair will scope out the location, clear furniture and set up a table that will serve as a makeshift bar.

Typically they purchase $500 worth of alcohol from their favorite vendor, but the type and amount of alcohol purchased depends on the occasion.

“For New Year’s we spent $700 because we knew there was going to be a lot of people, and we wanted to get hard liquor and champagne,” Phil said.

The party usually gets started around 10 p.m., leaving Phil and Sean plenty of time to get bouncers, two of their senior cronies, in place. These bouncers make sure that people who enter the party are invitees and make sure that the partygoers pay a $10 cover charge if they plan on drinking and $5 if they don’t.

“We will pay the bouncers a percentage of what we make that night,” Sean said. “It all depends, there isn’t a set fee. If we can get cheap labor we’ll use it.”

 Phil and Sean like to restrict parties to Harvard-Westlake students but make exceptions for a few out-of-school friends.

The party throwers do not monitor the amount of alcohol a student drinks.

The senior boys have made it clear that the problem of students over-drinking is not something they are going to deal with.

“We expect people to decide for themselves about how much they can drink,” Phil said. “We aren’t going to take responsibility for people getting sick because it’s their choice to drink that much. Sometimes, if I’m bartending, I’ll cut people off if I think that they have had too much to drink.”

Some students are not as high on the idea and feel that it takes away from upperclassmen bonding experiences when sophomores are attending parties. There was a group on Facebook created entitled, “all those in favor of sophomores not being allowed to come to our parties,” where various seniors and juniors posted their sentiments.

“There is really no age limit, you just have to decide if you can be yourself and not succumb to peer pressure when knowning these limits,” Sean said.

Students also feel as though Phil and Sean are taking advantage of the student body.

“It shouldn’t be about making money,” a junior boy said. “Half the time these parties get shut down anyway, and they just keep everyone’s money.”

“It’s okay for them to cover their costs, but their mentality of ‘Come on guys, let’s party but also generate some positive cash flow at the same time’ is typical of Harvard-Westlake,” Tony Cuneo ’08 said.

Neighbors calling the police because of noise cause some parties to be shut down.

“When we start to get complaints we’ll usually be pretty reasonable and ask the party’s supervisor to modify whatever is causing the disturbance whether it is amplified music or parked cars lining the street,” Lieutenant Gary Gilmond of the Beverly Hills Police Department said. Two police cars pull up to the house and break up the party by asking everyone to exit the house over a loudspeaker. Next, they enter the party looking for those responsible for the bash.

 “I’ve dealt with the police a couple of times,” Phil said. “They expect this kind of thing. Usually it’s just a noise complaint and they ask everyone to leave, but not until late in the evening when the party has been going on for a while.”

When the complaints persist and nothing is done to fix the problem the police will shut down the party, Gilmond said.

“Worst case scenario, we will cite the homeowner or kids who are loitering on the street and we could possibly detain those who are caught underage drinking,” Gilmond said. “This rarely happens. We will usually just ask everyone to leave. We are pretty reasonable.”

After about a half an hour, the guests have left and Phil and Sean are left amidst a mess of empty beer cans and cigarette butts.

“The hardest part is definitely cleaning up in the morning,” Phil said. “We sleep over at the person’s house and it usually takes a couple of hours to clean the entire house.”

Before leaving the house in the morning, Sean divides the remaining profits between Phil, the host and himself.

“I think the parties are good to have in general,” a sophomore girl said. “No matter what, teenagers are going to drink and do stupid things so it’s better to have them do it in an environment where they trust and know that if anything goes wrong then someone will help them. They should at least be in a comfortable environment rather than being somewhere shady.”

 “I believe that we are doing the student body a service,” Phil said. “Instead of sitting around doing nothing on the weekends, we give them the opportunity to party.”

*Names withheld upon request

You must be logged in to post a comment Login