We all love a good party. They come with the allure of meeting new people and an unpredictability that anything could happen that night.
What I don't like about parties is the start (and thus, finish) times. Call me a fogey, but I enjoy being in bed around 11pm every night, including weekend nights.
Maybe I'll stretch to midnight for an occasion, but if/when I don't get home until 4am my night has gone a way I will regret for days.
Whenever a host organises a party, the general time stipulation is always 8pm, which means they don't expect anybody before 9pm. If you're a "cool kid", you aren't really supposed to get there until 11.
So here's my question: what on earth is everybody doing in the hours before going to a party on an average Saturday? I can categorically say I never have anything to do between 4pm and 8pm on weekends.
These hours feel to me like being in a doctor's waiting room – you're never quite sure what to do with yourself, so you just flick through old magazines and swipe around your phone in boredom.
Parties need to start earlier. Not just because I want to be in bed before a new day has begun, but as there's absolutely no reason to start them so late.
Why not get people together at 5.30pm or 6pm? You get to enjoy that buzz of two glasses of wine in the sun without any food in your belly because you haven't eaten since lunch.
Then you can graze on nibbly bits for the rest of the night, keep better tabs on your alcohol-to-water ratio, and have a good five or six hours mingling before the night starts to fade.
Crucially, you go home, get eight hours of sleep, and wake up in the morning feeling only mildly seedy, a feeling that abates as soon as you're walking to brunch.
Unfortunately for people like me who despise spending an entire day hung over, somebody once decided 11pm was "party o'clock" and we've never been able to shake it.
This is when all the best music gigs start, when bars begin to pump, and when a street's nightlife finally starts to really come alive.
You can feel a particular vibe out there at this time; a collective feeling of "what's going to happen tonight?" radiating off jovial punters everywhere you see.
Yet I always want to be home just when the party's just getting started. I don't want to be peaking at 1am, messy by 2.30, and stuffing my face with a kebab by 3.15. It's enjoyable at the time, for sure. But for those few extra hours not in bed, I pay for them in quality of life for the next 24, even 48 hours.
Yes – here's a bit of advice for young players. When you get older, some of your hangovers you'll still feel on Tuesday morning. TUESDAY, kids. It's bloody awful.
We need to shake off this culture of a party not kicking off until 11pm. First of all, according to NZ Police data, it's between 11pm Saturdays and 3am to 4am Sundays when most violent and sexual assault crimes are committed in New Zealand.
That's evidence that an overwhelming bulk of people all getting drunk during exactly the same hours is a recipe for disaster. I reckon, if we varied the times in which people went out and got more people home soon after dark, police might have a lot less violence to deal with – and a lot of party-goers wouldn't end up victimised every weekend.
Now, don't get me wrong by thinking I support Sydney-style lockout laws in saying all this. I don't. Lockout laws decimate nightlife and push it out to the suburbs; not just ruining the hospitality industry's profitability but also ruining a culture of shared merriment by putting a time cap on it.
What I'm advocating is a more staggered approach to partying. Most should start earlier, because we're otherwise all just waiting around and wasting time. But for those who want to go "out out" 'til the wee hours, all the power to them.
Stay out until dawn, drink all you like. What I merely wish here is that this was just the exception, not the norm.