Sunday, 3 October 2010

The Party Culture

When I was in America last summer, I worked in an amusement park with a group of kind people. Most of them were locals and Europeans. They held a party every Monday and they invited me every time, but most of the time, I refused. Gradually, I felt they seemed not to like me. Maybe they felt I was a person that did not want to get along with others.
Now, in Singapore, I have two European housemates. They have a party every Saturday night. Typically, thirty or forty people gathered right outside our house, chatting and playing some games. That is really noisy to me, a person who does not like these parties.
These minor conflicts are due to the huge difference between western and eastern party cultures.  Firstly, on our eastern parties, if I could call them parties, we typically have a dinner in a famous restaurant with all of us seated around one big table, and then go to KTV to sing some songs together after dinner. Therefore, most of us would feel bored on the parties of western style, with everyone standing, holding a drink, walking around to chat and playing some games. That was the reason why I refused my crew members’ invitation to their parties. However, they did not know that, so they thought I did not want to get along well with them. Secondly, eastern people do not hold parties so frequently. We have a party only when we have something to celebrate or we have a re-union with old friends. Thus, I cannot bear my housemates holding parties right outside our house every week.


  1. Hi Liu Long!

    Yup! I guess that is the westernised way of making friends and building bonds with one another.

    Parties in eastern cultures tend to be more formal whereby it occurs for a reason. In western culture I guess parties are just a reason to let go and enjoy after a hard week at work and also to build bonds with everyone.

    See you around!

  2. Hi Liu Long!
    I think the phenomenon mentioned in your post is very interesting. It demonstrates the intercultural difference beautifully.
    People tend to do network building when they have dinner around a table in China. Chinese hold parties for certain reasons, which is not often the case in western countries.Westerners are uesd to talk to build good relationship with others during their parties.
    I think understanding plays a vital role in the intercultural communication. You can try to be tolerate with their culture, at the same time, try to make them understand what you think. Maybe, this will be better. However, it is still a hard process to recoganize a different culture.

  3. This is an interesting post, Leo. You describe what you see as the differences in the party cultures quite well. I would, however, be a bit hesitant to paint with such a broad brush.

    The terms Western and Eastern encompass so much variation in territory that you can easily run into danger. For instance, both Japan and Singapore can be characterized as "Eastern cultures," but there are vast differences One huge difference, just in the college student subcultures, is that in Japan students typically drink alcohol at a party, large or small. Here in Singapore I rarely have seen alcohol being consumed at student parties attended by mainly Singaporeans (that might not be true at a party held at a bar though).

    Even within Singapore, there is variation as well. A party held by Malay students might be very different from one held by Indians.

    I guess my main point is that we have to be very careful about how we characterize a culture via our specific experience.

  4. Thank you very much, Brad, for pointing out this.

    Yea, I think you are quite right. I'd better change the word "eastern" to "Chinese".

  5. I have similar puzzles about the party culture. Before I came to Singapore for study, I always have the impression on Singapore that it should be a highly westernized country. The locals should be more prone to western cultures like Asian Americans, ABC for instance. In my impression, the parties should be quite common in western universities and I had the expectation from NUS as well. But the fact turned me down that the locals here rarely organized and showed any enthusiasm in the throwing a party. I think I do generalized the party culture to extrapolate it from western culture to Singapore, but I still feel weired about that.