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Published: Verve Magazine, Musings, September 2008
Illustration by Farzana Cooper

As women experience a dramatic liberation of the spirit, they flock together in time for the most sensational party in town – the pre-nuptial ‘bachelorette’ aka hen party. What ensues is seductive, exorbitant and completely amoral mayhem, discovers Sitanshi Talati-Parikh

Henparty

Cock-a-doodle-doo. A cackle of resounding proportions ensues, ricocheting from the walls and reverberating in my ears. As the shrieking, excited women gather together in a spacious marble tiled room of a luxury hotel, I sit back in amused anticipation. Taking the been-there-done-there stance, I hold forte as the knowing spectator of a scene that is bouncing with camaraderie, clinging with subtle desperation to a youth that may never return, and high on spirits of every kind – as if this is the last night of fun, ever.

With lurid décor to offset the expensive and borderline sensational clothes, the women in one collective burst cheer the hunky man (is it just me or do I dread the sweaty, hairy ape that may just appear?) who is to make an appearance. In a flash I recall the Friends episode where Danny DeVito appears at Phoebe’s bachelorette party, resplendent in an officer’s uniform, all of four feet tall and I believe I can never forget the look of shock and abysmal dismay on the girls’ faces. I kid you not, an Indian hen party that promises a male stripper leaves me queasy and sceptical. A bronzed Brazilian or Greek God – now that would be my kind of party!

As the inebriation skyrockets, the women get louder and brasher by the minute – and the drinking games begin to take a turn toward the scandalous. From recounting your most brazen sexual escapade, to dares that would make any sane woman shudder with disgust, the parties are simply a way to surrender to impulse and try to do what one may never have or probably never will in the future. Or maybe, it is a way to explore the secret, often subdued kinky streak, to ensure post-marital bliss. Simply by letting your imagination go completely wild.

And while one is speeding down the fast lane, taking off on destination hen parties to exotic locales is high up on the wish list. Where the women can surround themselves with everything they love most – credit cards, friends, hot men, shopping, and a vacation that promises to be embedded in their memories forever. While a fun beach trip in Spain or Koh Samui or maybe even intoxicated rounds of vineyards in Tuscany would suit my taste, there are other more sensational destinations that do the bachelorette party rounds. Take your pick from gambling, striptease and can-can in Vegas to 48-hour raves in Ibiza, from singles-only adult resorts in Mexico to life-threatening adventure sports – the world is a menu, and one just has to pick a spot.

What is it that makes this night such a big deal in a woman’s life? Is it the post-women’s lib take on the bachelor’s party? In my naïve understanding of history, women would gab a bit, have a pyjama party, gossip, paint their nails, brush each other’s hair and share secrets about love and what is soon to come. It was a means of solidifying the female bond at a time when women need it the most – as they are about to enter the big bad world of men, mothers-in-law and the kitchen. And men would sow their wild oats. Literally and metaphorically.

We then arrive at the premise that today’s women have many a wild oat to sow as well – with the liberation and all that. And so, every woman wants to bag (or bed) that last bit of scandal, before she begins the journey of a devoted and chaste life. I don’t think so! As single marriages are passé and divorces are the first resort, hen parties are just that – another party to frequent the colourful social lives of the free-spirited women of today, and one that has the golden ‘Get As Wild As You Can’ pass to make anything that happens at that party acceptable.

So what are the women really liberated from? Inhibitions – of course. Moral code – probably. A sense of decorum – definitely. And that is what makes it the night of a lifetime. Needless to say – what happens at a hen party stays at a hen party. And that is one pact that strictly cannot be broken – like that of a sorority. No photos, no emails, nothing to leave a trace of what actually took place, except a vaguely delicious memory that leaves you feeling that you’ve been bad, and enjoyed every minute of it. And the best part – there is no hangover of guilt.

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