Why more and more people are swapping sweaty dance floors for pillows, armchairs and chilled tunes.
Think of the word "party", and you'll probably have flashbacks of three-day benders, tequila shots, and big patches of "What the hell happened after that?!". Yep, partying is fun, but it can also wreak havoc on your body and your wallet, so, most
of the time, you'll be paying for it in two ways the next day.
But there's a new trend in socialising dubbed "slow partying", which avoids this lifestyle burnout by putting an emphasis on more relaxed ways of letting your hair down. Where do we sign up?
Instead of all-night raves, clubs in Ibiza are putting on parties where pillow rooms, not the dance floors, are the hangout of choice. Punters in the US and Canada are ditching Red Bull for "anti-energy" drinks, like Slow Cow, which relax the body rather than stimulate it. And instead of recreational drugs that speed everything up, people looking to chill out are heading to oxygen bars, like in Byron Bay, Australia, for a hit of stress relief, or even popping tranquillisers such as Valium.
The best-selling book In Praise Of Slow (Orion, $17.95) examines this global shift in pace, which author Carl Honoré has termed the Slow Movement.
"It's a cultural revolution against the idea that faster is better," he explains. "It's about doing everything at the right speed savouring the minutes and hours rather than just counting them." This trend rebels against the "roadrunner" culture, which is breaking us down.
"It takes a toll on everything from our health, diet and work, to our relationships and the environment."
The movement has infiltrated the way we spend our free time, or, as Honoré puts it, "the lost art of slow socialising".
"We're exhausted and worn out by dashing around like headless chickens, so we feel the need to take our foot on the accelerator pedal in our leisure time."
Alex Zabotto-Bentley, creative director of events agency AZBcreative (azbthecreative.com), agrees that slow partying is a nostalgic way to socialise, from a period before packed nightclubs and raves.
"It evokes a time gone by," Zabotto-Bentley says. "There's pressure to stand in a room with 500 other people after a busy day, but sometimes we just want to bring it down a few notches and have an easier interaction, and a more relaxed social experience."
In his line of work, Zabotto-Bentley has watched this type of socialising become more and more widespread. "Slow partying is not only a trend, but also a change in mindset," he says. "I believe it's here to stay. There are hugely popular small bars opening everywhere, plus brands constantly want us to stage intimate pop-up experiences for their clients. Large city clubs and major events are still part of the culture, but smaller bespoke offerings are really taking over."
These days, it's hard to have a decent conversation with a friend at a bar when you have to shout over the top of a LMFAO track, keep a watchful eye on your drink, while trying to dodge another bar fight.
This is another reason the slow party movement has proven so popular. Home dinner parties, quiet bars filled with comfy armchairs, and chilled-out after-work drinks are fostering better connections.
"Our relationships suffer when we get stuck in fast-forward, because we lack the time or the tranquillity to listen to other people or be fully with them," Honoré points out. "Like everything else, speeding up our relationships has made them more superficial. People are yearning to spend time together in ways where they genuinely connect."
Generations before her have typically partied hard, but Sarah, 22, finds herself steering clear of that over-the-top lifestyle.
"When I was at uni, it was the norm to go out twice or three times a week and when I say ‘go out', I mean go all out," she recalls. "Thinking about that now, my stomach lurches at the idea. I still like to have the occasional big one, but I prefer to stay in and cook, or go out for a few after-work drinks."
Even though she's young, Sarah would rather make the most of her free time instead of it ending up as a blur. "Characters in pop culture still seem to be directionless and out of control in their early 20s, but I don't see that in myself or my friendship groups. Pills and hook-ups have been replaced with sauv blancs and conversation!"
So the next time you feel like a nanna for suggesting a quiet dinner party over a wild night out, think of the benefits to your body, mind and wellbeing. "Strong relationships and meaningful social contact make us happier and healthier," says Honoré. "Real connections with other people give texture and meaning to life."
And it sure beats a hangover.