Primary location of party at 18:
Whoever’s house has the least amount of authority figures.
Primary location of party at 25:
Bars and clubs! House parties are now the unicorns of social life, as you’ve upgraded to partying at actual business establishments who have liquor licenses and whatnot. While this is more expensive, it makes up for that in bringing in a wider array of people who you’d otherwise never meet and having some structure. No hectic, uncontrolled environment with tons of inexperienced partiers whose poor behavior is only supplemented by alcohol.
Dancing at 18:
Everybody’s watching you – at least, in your mind they are. It feels as if the stage is set, the spotlight is on you and you’ve got to have some high quality rug cutting abilities, not only to impress onlookers, but the person you’re dancing with as well. It’s probably someone you have feelings for and right now is your chance to be their dream partner, creating magic on the dance floor that’ll hopefully materialize into some sort of relationship off of it. THE STAKES ARE HIGH. Too high actually, which is why it’s easier to just sit on the couch or lean against the wall and be too cool for choreographer school.
Dancing at 25:
Even if you’re not a great dancer, to some degree you are. You’ve been at this for years now, and even those with less than stellar moves have mastered their unique, toe twinkling, hip swaying, arm flailing, pelvic thrusting routines. Also, regardless of who is or isn’t looking, you’re going to perform with the enthusiasm of a skilled, trained performer, because you’re a seasoned veteran, borderline professional now.
Preparing for the party at 18:
Hours of preparation are needed as your outfit is carefully selected. Every last strand of hair will be in place. You will meet with friends to assemble your posse in advance for maximum confidence (or minimum self-consciousness) upon entrance, and conquer this gathering through the dominance of opponents in drinking games, garnering compliments, drawing attention from people you find attractive and basically being the featured cast in a room full of extras.
Preparing for the party at 25:
Maybe it’s confidence, or carelessness, or the luxury of experience, but there’s a new you who is comfortable with yourself, relieving many of the stresses you felt in previous years. You know how to adjust and get ready in any amount of time, whether it be three hours or 30 minutes. You’ll still look good and the pesky pressure surrounding party prep is significantly less existent.
Hanging out with 21-year-olds at 18:
Is this how your everyday life is? You and your friends are so [whatever lingo is used at the time to describe cool people] and this party is [whatever lingo is used at the time to describe something spectacular]. I look up to you and you’re like an irresponsible, laid-back older sibling to me — let’s do shots and stuff!
Hanging out with 21-year-olds at 25:
(As they brag and tell you stories of their party escapades last weekend)
Am I supposed to be impressed or…? Let me start up the wide eyes and head nodding so I can I pretend as if your stories are unheard of with my Taylor Swift shocked face. Look, I’ve been around for a while, Old Sport. I’ve seen some things… And some stuff.
Deepest fear while partying at 18:
The cops will come and you will be in deep trouble for your crimes against drinking age laws.
Deepest fear while partying at 25:
None, because legal.
Common booze choice at 18:
I’ll have shots? No, um, a vodka and whiskey? Is that not a good combo? Uh, actually, can I have something that tastes a little bit like alcohol, but also sour, but mostly fruity, but not too sweet or bitter? Does anything like that exist? Or actually, you know what, I’ll take one cocktail, please, on the rocks! Heh, they say that in the movies… Oh, a cocktail isn’t a specific type of drink? Erm… I’ll just go to the keg and pour myself a beer, which will be made up of 3/4s of inexperienced foam.
Common booze choice at 25:
WINE. So, so much wine is consumed now. Or, at the very least, people know exactly what types of drink(s) they enjoy and how to order them.
Favorite game to play at parties when you’re 18:
Beer pong. King’s cup. Flip cup. Things of that nature.
Favorite game to play at parties when you’re 25:
People watching. It’s like going to see The Real World on Broadway.
Worst-case drunken mistake scenario at 18:
Someone captures a video of you partaking in humiliating activities and now it’ll live on forever in the internet.
Worst-case drunken mistake scenario at 25:
You captured a video of some youngster partaking in humiliating activities but in your drunken state, recorded the footage vertically. Blasphemous, terrible, vertical video recordings. Your potential viral video is now useless.
Deciding what to do and who to do it with at 18:
The wetness behind your ears leaves you eager to try whatever, regardless of sketchiness. You’ll go places you’ve never been with people you barely know and talk to strangers and find yourself in a lot of uncomfortable, foreign situations because you know no better.
Deciding what to do and who to do it with at 25:
If you want to go somewhere with someone you will, but you have no issues with staying in. In fact sometimes you wish someone/something would give you a reason to not step outside.
Partying limits at 18:
People are watching and you’re new to this/curious, so there are no limits. Impressing people by matching or out performing them is the sole objective!
Partying limits at 25:
Experiences have been experienced. Badges have been awarded. Respect has been earned. There’s no way to peer pressure you into taking shots you don’t want to take, or dance on top of tables you don’t want to dance on, or drive to IHOP at 2am or stand in an IHOP parking lot recapping the night until 5am.