Do Teens Still Party? We Asked Them

Ask A Teen

Many concerned adults would like to know: Are all teenagers going out like the beautiful and troubled youths in Euphoria? The HBO teen show depicts a world in which teens are constantly going out (in very elaborate makeup), drinking to excess, and doing hard drugs, and its popularity among young people has some older viewers concerned that life will imitate art. At the same time, the panic over screen time has some of the same grown-ups worrying that young people aren’t going out enough. So what’s the truth? Have they all retreated behind their computers and phones? Are they staying in to play The Sims and/or organize a walkout for climate change at their high school? Which! Is! It!

The best way to figure this out? Ask them, of course. So we inquired about whether teens are still partying in 2020, and if so, what partying looks like these days. What does it really mean to “go out” as a teen in 2020? What do they wear? Which fictional parties do they wish they could go to? And are Juuls on their way out or just getting started? Let’s get into it!

“Going out” means approximately one million things

“I’d say ‘going out’ means a bar or club, somewhere public. I don’t think I’d usually refer to a party at someone’s house as ‘going out’” —Sophia, 18, New York

“Anywhere with drinking, music, and more than 10 people” —Melia, 19, North Carolina

“From clubs to parking lots, going out means literally getting out of the house at night to have a good time with friends.” —Teresa, 19, Barcelona, Spain

“‘Going out’ usually means hanging at one of my friends’ houses (with just my group of friends) and then maybe going through the McDonald’s drive thru for McFlurries at the end of the night.” —Lyla, 17, Minnesota

“‘Going out’ translates to ‘dinner with a friend in town’ or ‘get high or drunk in an acquaintance’s basement’ or ‘go for a drive with a friend and music.’” —Peiper, 17, New Hampshire

“House parties! Since we have more space than a city like New York, we have parties mainly in backyards.” —Claire, 18, California

“Hang out with friends in somebody’s dorm room, try not to get busted by the RAs. Sometimes, we go dancing at the gay club.” —Sophia, 19, Massachusetts

Partying is not exclusively for the weekend

“I don’t go out on Fridays—Thursdays are much more popular. I go out on Saturdays just to spend time with people and not look like a total recluse.” —Meghan, 18, Tennessee

“[On weekends] I stay home finishing up some homework, and FaceTiming my best friend. I know it might not sound like a stereotypical teenage night, but it’s relaxing. I need to recharge after my weekly burnout.” —Sophie, 17, Pennsylvania

“When I was in high school, one weekend night would be a ‘going out’ night (party) while the other would usually be reserved for family time or ‘wholesome’ friend time (aka girls only, getting dinner or watching a movie). In college, I’ll typically go out on Fridays and Saturdays (and usually at least one other day between Tuesday and Thursday).” —Emma, 19, Pennsylvania

“Honestly [the weekend] starts with plans to go out, but ends with grabbing snacks at CVS and watching a movie in our pajamas.” —Peri, 19, Massachusetts

Yep, they drink

We asked the teens in our survey about how often their peer group’s partying involves drinking and drugs. 61% said always, 33% said sometimes, and 6% said never. Please be safe out there, guys.

Parties might be invite only, but often they’re open

Invite-only parties were slightly more common than open ones among the teens we talked to, at 50.2%.

They hope the future of their partying is fancier (which, same)

“I hope for cute intimate dinner parties/salons with my cool friends where people still dress up but there’s also food. (Going out now doesn’t really ever include food, which is truly unfortunate.)” —Sophia, 18, New York

“Drinks with my coworkers, double couple dates, and hopefully some extravagant charity functions.” —Brie, 18, North Carolina

“Probably fancy dinners and expensive cocktails afterwards. Hopefully going to the ballet and opera and the occasional hangout at my friends’ houses.” —Marco, 19, Milan, Italy

“I imagine I’ll still be “going out” to smaller parties and bars, but definitely not in the way I do now. Someone please intervene if I’m still going to frat parties at 29!” —Emma, 19, Pennsylvania

“Hopefully more often. I feel a lot of pressure in my school to always be working, so I can go to the best college. I think that once I get a stable job, I will finally being able to relax and enjoy ‘going out.’” —Sophie, 17, Pennsylvania

“Maybe more house parties/ dinner parties. Maybe going to more ‘opening’ parties and book releases à la Sex and the City.” —Ila, 19, Amsterdam

TV shows and movies with ideal parties

Gossip Girl
10 Things I Hate About You
Gilmore Girls (specifically Logan’s parties)
Mean Girls
Sex and the City
Russian Doll
The Great Gatsby (2013)
Mamma Mia!
The Perks of Being a Wallflower
Lady Bird
Sex Education
Downton Abbey
Little Women
Project X

Their going out playlists are full of throwbacks

“‘Let’s Go Crazy’ by Prince.” —Leïla, 19, Paris

“Fergie always.” —Camille, 19, New York

“Anything that has a lot of bass that I can thrash around to in my friend’s car.” —Eleanor, 17, Oregon

“Bar mitzvah bops 🤧” —Becca, 16, Massachusetts

“All of the throwbacks! Hannah Montana (“I Wanna Know You”) to old Drake (“HYFR”), and maybe throw in a few of the popular TikTok songs.” —Abi, 18, South Carolina

“Early 00s pop! Hit me with the Ke$ha, Britney, young Selena Gomez, even Zac Efron’s angelic voice in the High School Musical soundtrack.” —Olivia, 17, California

“‘Supercut’ by Lorde.” —Frances, 15, New York

“A playlist filled with 2000s hits (‘Public Affair’ by Jessica Simpson is a must)” —Haylen, 16, Georgia

“Some 80s Italian disco, French techno, and some Drake.” —Ila, 19, Amsterdam

And Now, Some VIVCs (Very Important Vibe Checks):

High Heels: 48.8% said no, while only 7.3% said yes — but many teens used the “other” option to clarify that platform heels and Doc Martens pass the vibe check.

Mini Skirts: 56.1% said yes, while some of the “other” submissions emphasized the importance of taking anti-flashing precautions.

Crop Tops: 68.3% said yes, but a few mentioned that this was contingent on also wearing high-waisted pants.

Bras: Anything goes! 39% said yes, 26.8% said no, and everyone else said it depends on the shirt and the size of your boobs.

Juuls: Hard No (79.3%).

Going-out outfit inspo

“I would maybe change the pants to a dark wash denim and a fun belt. I’d also probably start the night with my hair down but it would end up in a pony by the end. Depending on how sweaty it gets in the crowded frat basement.” —Peri, 19, Massachusetts

“I would probably swap the shoes for some platforms since I’m short as hell and hate anything closer to stilettos than a block heel. Get a glitter lid and some gloss on those lips and you’re good to go! I love the sleeves and the pale color combo here, especially since my hair color is about the same at the moment.“ —Amelia, 17, Utah

I like that it’s simple and looks easy to dance in. I would genuinely kill someone for these insane vinyl pants. The shoes aren’t pictured, but I would probably wear my platform dr. martens. —Zofia, 19, St. Andrews, Scotland

“I love that this look is vibrant and fun but also seems pretty comfortable and casual. Dresses are always fun but pants are practical and warm for winter! I like the red pants because they’re more exciting than just jeans which people where every day, and going out on the weekend is a good opportunity to wear the things you wouldn’t usually wear to school.” —Ava, 17, California

“I love everything that Zoe Kravitz wears but the idea of a mini skirt with a more casual top is ideal for going out because if the vibe is more casual then you don’t feel over dressed. Also the cardigan makes it practical because the theory that “you’ll warm up once you have a few drinks” never seems to work!! I’d probably wear platform shoes and gold eyeshadow to make it a bit more ‘party-ish.’” —Phoebe, 16, London

Graphic Template by Dasha Faires.

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