Chicks Gonna Party all the Time (or Not)

In honor of Ellen’s brand-new Cajun Country Mysteries title MARDI GRAS MURDER, the Chicks are sharing their favorite party memories. Hey, you don’t have to be in NOLA to have fun (or not). Celebrations big or small, fun or disastrous, we’ve got a party for you!

Lisa Q. Mathews

CotC Word balloons

In my experience, the best parties are those you don’t expect to be fun (lookin’ at you, prom and every New Year’s Eve of my life). Usually, the most exciting part of a greatly-anticipated event is planning your outfit (until Zero Hour, when you’re late and nothing fits and the dress looks nothing like it did on you in the store and the high heel suddenly snaps off one sparkly shoe). I have to say, though, it’s hard to pick a favorite from the truly memorable ones. I’m not even going to count the 80s, because they were all a good time. But there was that annual Aruba Party back in college, held each mid-January, where one lucky couple would be whisked off through the snow at midnight to Logan Airport to catch a plane to (of course) Aruba. We all arrived with a suitcase packed for the weekend, just in case. (Usually the lucky winners never remembered anything about the trip.) I was always hopeful, but never won. But one year the ton of sand brought in to create a “beach” in the former frat house got too wet from all the beer and collapsed the antique-pine dance floor. Needless to say, the College and esteemed alumni were not very pleased. Oh, and Favorite Party Runner-up: a bash held on the Intrepid in NYC where dozens of very charming (and extremely fit, handsome, and cocky) aviators showed off their cool planes. (Top Gun is real, ladies—sunglasses at night and all.)

 Ellen Byron


I have to say, I’ve gotten to attend some great parties in my time. Mardi Gras balls, anyone? Grub Street, the guys behind Frasier and Wings, threw amazing holiday bashes at cool L.A. locales. I’ve yet to attend the Oscars, Emmys, or Grammys, but I did go to the GLAAD awards. In my youth, some Italian cousins ran two Queens catering halls, and I attended events so lavish they inspired a play — “So When You Get Married…” — and a new mystery series I’m writing for Kensington, The Catering Hall Mysteries. I even worked great parties when I cater-waitered for Martha Stewart. But the shindig I will always label the best was this one:

New Year’s Eve, 1979. An actor-waiter I knew from the Martha crew was living in a loft on 47th and 7th. Sound familiar? Yup, just north of Times Square. The loft was attached to the roof of the building next door, so right before midnight, we all climbed out a large window onto the roof and watched the ball drop at midnight, looking down at the chilly, huddling masses below with a sense of superiority.

It was the only time I’ve ever truly enjoyed New Year’s Eve.

Vickie Fee


If I’m honest, probably the most memorable party for me was one of my very first sleepovers, when I was eleven. I learned a few dance steps. And the older girls put eye shadow, mascara, and lipstick on me – exciting because I wasn’t allowed to wear make-up at that point. I also got my first taste of wine from the birthday girl’s older sister. It was just a sip, but alcohol was (and still is!) not allowed in my parents’ home. All that forbidden fruit was sooo delicious! And as the youngest kid in attendance, I guess I was most excited, and a little surprised, that the older girls (young teens) were so nice and made me feel like one of the gang. It was kind of like hanging out with the Chicks, except I’m definitely not the youngest, nobody cares about make-up, and there’s substantially more wine involved!

Marla Cooper

CotC Marla Cooper

It’s so hard to choose! Texas Governor Ann Richards’ inaugural ball in Austin, Texas, at the historic Driskill Hotel? The Halloween party in San Francisco where the Unibomber poured extra-strong gin and tonics and I became so mesmerized by a pair of android fembots that I couldn’t stop staring at them? Ooh! Or the big gala at the LBJ Library and Museum, where I worked in college? It had all the pomp and circumstance of a state dinner, and I vividly remember one of the Johnson daughters proclaiming, “Tonight is a love feast, and we are all the chefs.” (Okay, speech writers, really?) I love costumes, galas, dressing up, and fancy hors d’oeuvres, but I have to say: my favorite parties are the ones where we sat in someone’s backyard and just laughed at each other’s jokes all night long.

Cynthia Kuhn


This question is impossible but…I’m going to fly right past the college parties (though I loved the themed ones requiring costumes), and go right to (a) our wedding reception and (b) the baby showers that my lovely sister threw for my two kiddos. In my heart, those always will be tied for first place. Also, there was the best cake in the world at all three! Not that I’m a cake addict. Though I probably wouldn’t say no to special-event cake. Though I definitely should. So, okay, yes, cake will happen…but afterwards will come the cake guilt…it’s a whole spiral thing…and I seem to have gotten off-topic here…

Leslie Karst

Leslie graphic

I grew up around some pretty fabulous parties, as my folks loved to host elaborate costume parties for Halloween, New Year’s Eve, and Mardi Gras. And then, of course, there were those college beer bashes where we’d dance all night to the Rolling Stones and the Kinks until collapsing exhausted on sofas at three a.m., and then sleep it off till noon the next day.

But if I were to pick just one party, it would be the one I threw for myself when I graduated from law school. It was was an afternoon garden party, where we ate cucumber sandwiches and sipped tea and Champagne while playing croquet. I asked everyone to dress all in white, and the results were spectacular—people in flowing, white dresses, stylish white tuxedo jackets, and flannel tennis slacks. The prize for the most splendid attire, however, would have to go to my oldest brother, who arrived in a toga fashioned from a white sheet and set off with an olive garland in his hair.

Readers, any memorable (or not) party stories you’d like to share in the comments?

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30 thoughts on “Chicks Gonna Party all the Time (or Not)

  1. It would be difficult to top your creative party stories, Chicks. My fav parties are the Agatha Banquets where many authors and fans dress their best. It’s an evening where our encouraging and encouraged friends win the Agatha teapot to warm and raucus applause. It is the best fun to sit at a table with the winner as I did last year when newbie Cindy Callaghan won first Best Children’s Mystery of 2017!

    Liked by 5 people

  2. I’d have to go with New Year’s Eve, 1995 (seguing into 1996). I was working in the US Virgin Islands. Somebody said the world’s #3 NYE party was on Yost Van Dyke, which was in the British Virgin Islands. Unfortunately, I didn’t have a passport. All I had was a photocopy of my birth certificate.

    Since this was pre-9/11, I decided to take a chance on talking my way into the party (if I failed, it was only a 30-minute boat trip back to St. Thomas in the USVI). I was young (22), slender, and tan after four months in the Caribbean. I did my best to sweet talk the nice young man at the BVI customs. “I’m working and I doubt I’ll ever get back to the BVI to get to a party like this. It was short notice, so all I have is this photocopy, but I swear, I’m a US citizen and I just want to experience this.”

    Would you believe he bought it? And yes, NYE on the beach was fabulous.

    Liked by 4 people

    1. Oooh, I should hang out more with you guys. Ringing in the New Year on a Caribbean island with Liz. Watching the ball drop from a rooftop in Times Square with Ellen. Y’all are so glam! Last New Year’s Eve we stepped out the front door and watched the “ball” drop from a two-story building on our street.:)

      Liked by 4 people

    1. Leslie, if you love croquet you should come to Annapolis, MD when the St. John’s College Johnnies play a historic croquet game against the US Naval Academy Middies. The costumes are great, I hear. Supposedly, the drinks are too!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. My parents put together some New Years Eve parties that were fun when I was in high school and college. At one of them, a friend and I even got the idea to bring in the buzzer from Taboo as a bad joke buzzer to use on our senior English teacher. He loved it and still talks about it.

    This past June, my parents celebrated their 50th anniversary, and my brother, sister-in-law, and I threw them a party. They loved it, and many people have told them how much they enjoyed it. The credit goes to my brother and sil since they did the lion’s share of the work. They’ve had more experience and they live in the town where we threw the party.

    Liked by 5 people

  4. All the ones above are great, and I’m jealous of the fancy parties you’ve been to. I’ve never been invited to one. I guess I don’t know anything about the right people to force an invite. Because it’s not who you know, it’s about what you know about who you know! Right?
    My best memory though has to be a Mardi Gras themed party that was done for charity. My one and only ride in a limousine. I was sent by Boston Market, and got to meet business bigwigs. I was on the court because of the sponsorship. Masks and costumes everywhere. The music was okay… I got to throw beads at the crowd. It made thde paper. No offense, but the caterer had no clue what Louisiana cooking was supposed to taste like! I bypassed it and got drunk off my you know what.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Don’t feel bad, Hestia–a lot of the parties I went to were work-related (at least to start). Publishing and advertising companies used to have unlimited entertainment budgets–they wrote everything off!!

      Liked by 1 person

  5. OMG, Marla, your inauguration party sounds fab! AND you reminded me of the creepiest party – well, one of two – I ever went to.

    It was election night, 1980, and I have NO idea how this happened but I ended at a party at Roy Cohn’s townhouse. For those who don’t know, Roy Cohn is one of the most evil men who ever lived. Anyhoo, whoever invited me disappeared and I wandered around not knowing a soul. Somehow I ended up hanging out with Beverly D’Angelo because she was as lost as I was. A very cute guy with an Australian accent started flirting with me. He invited me to stay over, and I declined the invitation. I looked up and saw Roy Cohn staring daggers at me – seriously, a look so filled with fury I can still see it.

    Turns out the guy, Drew, was Roy’s (obviously bisexual) boyfriend. And they both died of AIDS.

    Liked by 2 people

  6. I’m still thinking about Marla having drinks made for her by the Unabomber. (I forgot about the Halloween theme and had to reread.) Dodged a bullet there, Marla!

    Liked by 2 people

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