Uk Parental Warning: Don&Rsquo;T Leave Home On August 18

From The Times
August 6, 2007

Parental warning: don’t leave home on August 18

Adam Sherwin, Media Correspondent

It’s always a risk to leave teenagers in charge of the house. But be warned: the countdown has begun to a night when parents should definitely think twice about allowing their offspring to have “a few friends” round.

On Saturday, August 18, suburbia will throb to an online invitation to stage a nationwide house party. Almost 1,000 teenagers have already signed up to host events at home. Thousands more will join them.

The aftermath may provide an unpleasant surprise for some holidaying parents, blissfully unaware that their offspring have designs on the family house. A Sunderland teenager was recently reprimanded by police after 200 gatecrashers trashed her parents’ home when a party advertised on MySpace spiralled out of control.

The event is the brainchild of the Scottish pop star Calvin Harris and underwritten by his record company, Columbia, a subsidiary of SonyBMG. An enticing web page reads: “All you have to do is hold your own Calvin Harris party and tell us about it! Anything goes – big or small – from a neon nu-rave extravaganza to a boozy barbecue to a girls’ night in.”

Participants are encouraged to take part in “a unique event, with more simultaneous house parties happening across the country than ever before”. The parties are part of the marketing strategy for Harris’s new single, Merrymaking At My Place. The most ambitious party-thrower will receive a prize £1,500 and Harris himself will grace their living room, or what is left of it, with a live performance. The small print for the competition excludes SonyBMG from all liability for any “tangible property damage, losses or injuries” resulting from the parties.

Hundreds of fans began signing up after Harris, who topped the charts with Acceptable in the 80s, issued an invitation on his MySpace blog. It read: “Click here if you want me round yer house. I will be at your disposal until you chuck me out. I can assure you there will be merrymaking of the highest order . . ! So what do you think, is this a good idea? Calvin xxx” Columbia rejects complaints that the competition is irresponsible. A spokeswoman for the company said: “These parties are intended for groups of friends to get together to celebrate the spirit of merrymaking that went into the making of his album. Provisions have been made to keep parties to personally invited friends and for permission to be sought where necessary.”

The competition is open to those 16 and above and a caveat on the entry form reads: “We strongly recommend that you do not invite strangers or advertise the party as open to all – or else you will be responsible for the consequences.”

Rachael Bell, 17, blamed a hacked MySpace page for the £25,000 orgy of destruction visited on her parents’ home in Sunderland when the party received hundreds of unwelcome guests. What started as an invitation on the internet, ended with people uri-nating in wardrobes and stubbing out cigarettes on clothes and furniture.

Robert Bowles suffered a similar fate last month when a party at his home in Harrogate was taken over by teenage gatecrashers while he was away. They caused about £15,000 worth of damage and stole televisions, DVD players, money and jewellery. Police said of the damage: “Every room in the house has been damaged in some way, even the garden shed hasn’t escaped.”

The teenagers who posted responses to Harris’s invitation appear to have less destructive designs. He has been promised tea and pancakes by hopeful entrants. A website will let fans upload videos from their parties during the evening of August 18 to help create a nationwide event.

Having a pop star play in your living room is the latest music industry novelty. Last year Noel Gallagher played a set in a fan’s house in Che-shire as a competition prize. Last week the cast of Channel 4 youth drama Skins staged a private party for 300 fans who won a web competition.

Pleasure and pain

— 250,000 people – 190,000 more than expected – turned up for a beach party thrown by the DJ Norman Cook, aka Fatboy Slim, in Brighton in 2002. A woman fell to her death from railings, a man died of a heart attack and more than 100 people were injured

— The Topshop boss Sir Philip Green flew 100 guests, including Sir Mick Jagger and Kate Moss, by private jet to the Maldives for a five-day bash that cost £6 million

— In 2004 New Delhi hosted the world’s longest dance party, when 40 youngsters danced for 55 hours

— The world’s largest computer Local Area Network party took place at the Dreamhacker Winter 2006 conference. A total of 7,788 computer-users logged on to play games under one roof

— 30,000 people took part in the world’s biggest party on water last week. AquaPalooza attracted 10,000 boats in 120 cities internationally for a celebration of life on the open waves

— In 2006 an estimated one million Brazilians flocked to Copacabana beach in Rio de Janeiro for a free Rolling Stones concert

Source: Times database

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