Photo by James Bunoan "See that girl in the blue skirt?" the bouncer asked, setting a confiscated, half-empty Cuervo margarita cup in the sand before slyly motioning toward a petite, dark-haired young'un to our right. "Her wristband—she turned it inside-out. It's white, but I can still see the pink around the edges. She's underage." Like a hawk, this bouncer was.
We'd arrived—four hours late—at online magazine Surf illustrated's house party in Sunset Beach expecting it to be over, with only a handful of wasted bikini models milling about and—we hoped—a few even-more-wasted party crashers who could fill us in on the intricate science of beach-party crashing. Instead, we were met at the packed, roped-off back yard by an insurmountable guest list/wristband setup. White wristbands indicated VIP status; purple meant you were over 21; pink, you were not. Fortunately, we were on the list and had wristbands. Unfortunately, everyone else seemed to have them as well.
After searching in vain for an unbanded wrist—the only nude wrists belonged to powerful-looking, soused 50-year-old men; invisible wristbands evidently meant you were extra VIP or something—we wound up next to the bouncer guarding the beach exit. Turns out no one had attempted to crash the party. Amazing: here we were, standing in the makeshift back yard of a looming beachfront home, surrounded by bikini models, their boyfriends and bucketloads of free booze. It was like being trapped inside a Coors Light commercial. We couldn't wait to get out. But didn't someone, anyone—one of the beachgoers dotting the shoreline, perhaps?—want to get in?
Other than the gray-haired 70-year-old woman who slowly trudged by and shyly asked if "just anyone" could come in, no. And so, after hanging around for the bikini fashion show—orange is still in! Anorexia is, too!—we bid adieu to the bouncer, telepathically messaged the girl in the blue skirt that margaritas taste better when you can actually drink them, and hit the road in search of someone—sorority girls, former groupies, jaded New Yorkers—who could actually tell us how to crash a beach party.
Here's what we learned:
Travel in packs
Attempt to crash a party solo, and you won't make it through the door. Because nobody likes a loner—especially the token beer-bellied, tough-on-the-outside guy who inevitably stands near the party's entrance (when he's not next to the keg). Instead, bolster your image and recruit at least three friends as your posse. If you're a dude, make sure these friends are women: "Breasts will always get you in the door," explains Lindsay*, a Tri Delta sister and seasoned Balboa Peninsula crasher. "Unless it's a sorority house." If the ratio of guys to girls in your gang is more than 1:4, arrive bearing gifts. "Stuff your guys with booze and money," Lindsay recommends. See also: pizza; pot.
Time your entrance—and know where it is
"Most good parties don't get hot until 11 [p.m.]," Lindsay points out. But due to beach police, they often end by 12:30 a.m., a time frame that makes it tricky to carry out another tip: wait until the party is well on its way to wasted. To this end, try scouting the neighboring houses. "Neighbors are key," explains Lindsay. If they're quiet, continue until you hit a rowdier block. Also, remember that most beach parties are exactly that—on the beach. Don't try to crash from the front door. You'll have better luck if you walk along the boardwalk or beachfront.
Split up and head separately for the keg
Unfortunately, the paradox of party crashing is that while nobody likes to let in a loner, nobody wants an unknown group to stay, either. "The key is to choose a big enough party, and then if it comes up, just be like, 'Oh, I came with some friends, and I think one of them knows someone who lives here,'" recommends Elise, a Costa Mesan ex-pat now crashing loft parties in New York. "But at that point, you'll already be drinking beer, and it'll just be small talk anyway." You might also want to send the best-looking of your gang over to the beer-bellied guy, since he'll be the one throwing you out if you get caught. Have her wink and ask if she can get him a refill, and you'll all be in for the rest of the night.
Caught? Grab what you can
Crashed an unfriendly party? Make the most of your heave-ho. "The exit will always be embarrassing. There's no real way around it," says Lindsay, "but if you have to suffer the humiliation, make sure you grab a bottle of Jack on the way out. It'll nurse the pain away."
When all else fails, make friends with the ugly guy
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Not to be confused with the beer-bellied guy, the ugly guy can typically be found getting silently wasted in the corner. Although he has no real power to throw you out, he has just enough pull to let you stay. As Janet, a retired groupie who once came this close to wooing a security guy into letting her backstage at a Ryan Adams show observes, "The ugly guy always knows somebody. Or else he wouldn't be there, right?"
Remainders: Get wasted, make out
Remember, you wouldn't be crashing if you didn't want to get something—free booze, a hot date, a bitchen guacamole recipe—out of it. So once you've crashed, work it to your advantage. "The best part of crashing is when you're drunk and bonding with someone at the end of the night," says Elise. "Then you can let it out: 'So, I have to tell you . . . I don't really know anyone here. . . . Wanna make out?'" Works every time.
*Names have been changed to protect the crashers.