Last week I was “at work” (which sounds weird to say, because nowadays “at work” just means wherever I happen to be).
Putting my proverbial nose to the equally proverbial grindstone, when I was rudely interrupted by the ever charming sound of an incoming call.
At first my instinct told me to pick up the phone in my deepest voice and yell “Who the fuck is this? Paging me at 5:46 in the morning?”
But then I realized that would be a stupid question. Because in 2018 your phone actually shows you who’s calling.
Which happened to be a good friend. And it was most likely about work anyway. So I immediately picked up.
But to my surprise, he said:
“Me and some others just had the idea of throwing an epic party. But the catch is that it will be a party for complete strangers. Nobody can know each other except us. We have one day to set it up. Right now all we have is a rooftop. Are you in or are you out?”
Still fully in left-brained work mode, my initial reaction was “Gee, I don’t know… I probably have some shit to do that makes me feel more important than I really am, or something”.
But then I realized that future me would be much happier when looking back at 5 days of work and 1 epic party, than if he were to look back at 7 days of work. So I said “Fuck it, I’m in.”
And so the race against the clock began.
I rushed to get my most urgent tasks done on the train. My friend found the perfect DJ in his crossfit gym (of all places).
Two people convinced the local supermarket to give us free booze. Then a fastfood joint to give us free fries. And a falafel place to give us free …ehm… falafel. So far, so good.
To give the strangers (that we didn’t invite yet) a chance to thank us for the free goodness, we put up a donation box for the most efficient charity in the world.
Now we had a rooftop and theoretically had a party. But we still had to find 50 strangers in less than a day.
Like a bunch of madmen, we all started posting on Instagram and in Facebook groups, trying to inve only people we didn’t know. We “installed” Tinder and Happn “for the first time” and started inviting all our matches to the party instead of dates.
Then we took turns in groups to go pick random people off the street, tell them about it and ask for their numbers. We explicitly told everyone they couldn’t invite friends because it was a “strangers only” party.
Around 5PM we texted all the people the address and that they were expected at 7.
By 6:50 PM we were still stacking up wooden pallettes to make a DJ booth. (That and crossing our fingers all these random people would actually show up…) The booze ended up arriving about the same time as the first guests. But we made it!
Much to our surprise, the rooftop actually started flooding with people early. I don’t know how many people came. But at one point we counted 44 people who had never seen each other’s face before.
You would expect a few awkward moments at a party like this. People shuffling around in silence, holding their drinks in front of their chest, scared to approach each other, even though that’s what they were there for. In other words: friday night at a bar.
But instead, something interesting happened:
Everyone there knew that everyone else was basically in the same boat as them. On a rooftop, looking for a good time. Surrounded by strangers with no friends to talk to. So all fears and barriers seemed to disappear. They all knew that they at least had this in common:
Because of that, it didn’t even take as long as 5 minutes for people to loosen up.
Where people are usually worried about finding a smooth opener to start a conversation with, it now became as easy for them as saying:
“Hey, we haven’t talked yet, have we? Let’s talk!”
And by the end of the night, you could see that everyone was really starting to bond. Instead of 50 strangers, there was now 1 big groups. When the party was over, people where greeting each other with 3 hugs, 5 kisses and 2.4 secret handshakes before they left.
Isn’t that amazing?
When’s the last time you ever made 40 new friends in a bar?
Now here’s something to think about:
That party was not a special occasion at all. It just gave people permission to behave in a certain way.
Other than the fact that it was epic as fuck, your daily life is actually not that different from this rooftop.
For most of our history, humans used to live in small tribes together. And we knew every single person saw around us very well. Imagine that you were living in such a tribe. Until one day, you noticed a guy you had never seen before.
How would you react?
The first thing you’d probably think is. “Who the hell is that guy? I thought I knew everyone in this tribe, but I’ve never talked to him before… Let’s find out what he’s like.”
Then you’d first look at him from a distance to assess whether he looks friendly or not. And if it looked safe safe, you’d go get to know him. Not only would it feel natural, it would be necessary. If you didn’t know them, suddenly you’d live in a reality with one aspect you could never predict.
Of course we dont do this anymore in modern society. When your tribe is about 7 billion members large, it can get pretty hard to keep up 😉
But it’s something to think about…
Every day you go about your day, and you pass hundreds of faces you haven’t seen before.
Now how awesome would be if you started to know them all a little?
For the next couple of week I challenge you to satisfy your natural curiosity and walk up to people like this.
Consider that everyone living close to you is part of your tribe. And there’s lots of people you could be having fun with that you don’t know yet.
Just walk up to them and say something stupid like. “Hey, I don’t think we’ve talked yet, have we?”
It may be a little awkward sometimes, but once you get past it, you’ll both start to open up real soon.
Some people say life is what you make of it.
So why not make it a rooftop party from time to time?
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