I Went to a Yacht Party by Myself and it Was Terrible/Great

As the 200-foot yacht pulled away from Pier 81, the deck of the ship was abuzz. Bumping music, clinking glasses, chatty partygoers. Groups of friends snaked their way around the hull, arms interlocked, sharing conspiratorial laughs. I scuttled around the edge of the boat like a crab, clutching the railing, watching the west side of Manhattan slip away with a mild sense of panic. I searched my heart for someone to blame and found only myself.

I was the one who’d volunteered to go to a party alone a few weeks prior for the sake of a how-to story. That was all me. I’d done it with the kind of enthusiasm I have in spades while making plans and rarely maintain through their execution. The idea made me laugh. I made a note to look out for party invites.

This one came by way of Onepiece, the brand behind the terrycloth onesie I wear around my house on lazy Sundays. The party was, in part, celebrating the release of a pink version. Adorable, I thought. I noted its location. What if I went to a party alone ON A BOAT? It’s funny because I can’t leave! I RSVP’d. How scary could an event thrown in honor of terrycloth really be?

By the time I received the docking details a week later, my attitude had deeply soured. It was not just about terrycloth. It was hosted by “The Fat Jew,” sponsored by White Girl Rosé, with a performance by Diplo. The thought of attending this party solo occurred, quite suddenly, to be a very bad idea. I knew my trepidation was objectively insufferable — it’s a party on a yacht, for christ’s sake! — but as far as my quickly snowballing social anxiety was concerned, I was boarding a sinking ship.

The day before I set sail, I asked team MR to share their best partying-alone advice. I wanted to be as prepared as possible. Below is what they told me and whether or not it worked. Use as a how-to guide if it suits you, but do so at your own risk.

1. Wear something that’s a conversation starter.

This one executed itself by way of me missing a critical memo: This was a pink party. Everything there, from the carpets to the drinks to the little lighters they were handing out for free, was as pink as I was friendless. Not a soul in attendance wasn’t dressed accordingly. That is, barring me and my yellow dress, bobbing around the party like a banana that fell into a bowl of shrimp. This wasn’t effective at making me friends so much as alienating me, physically.

Heed this particular tip with upmost caution.

☝️Or☝️… just read the invitation.

2. Make sure your phone is fully charged.

I cannot stress the importance of this enough. In fact, I should have doubled down and brought a charger. Phones are partying-alone life lines. I can say that because I’m a millennial.

Upon boarding, I commandeered Man Repeller’s Instagram account to document my experience. It was, I admit, a thinly veiled guise to give me something to do. Unfortunately for me, I was so committed to this endeavor (plus generally nervous) that I not only killed my battery before the party ended, but also received several DMs advising me to get off my phone and talk to people.

Maybe use that tip instead?

3. Get there hungry and sober so you have a goal.

I spent the first 30 minutes of the party wandering around the boat with my head on a swivel, eyebrows raised, as if to communicate to any onlookers that I was not alone, but rather in the midst of locating my friends. This enabled me to tour the party and sort through the food and drink offerings free of awkwardness.

This tip so far: +1

I settled for a McDonald’s hamburger and fries, which I consumed alone on a pink couch, in a VIP area no one knew existed. If a photographer had been there and I were Alexa Chung, this would have made for a chic photo op. Unfortunately neither were true, nor did this make me friends. It did boost morale, though.

4. Make friends with the bartender.

The only other person in VIP was, as luck would have it, a bartender. I sidled up to her like I was John Wayne and asked her for a beer in a tone that said, This party, am I right? Let’s bond. She told me curtly that I didn’t have the appropriate wristband for a beer, but that I could have a can of rosé. I apologized for asking a question to which the answer wasn’t yes and took the rosé. Then she returned to her phone.

Will retry this tip next time I’m alone in a saloon.

5. Make a trip to the ladies’ room for bathroom-line-socializing purposes.

This one seemed like a gimme; I wrote about the social oasis of women’s restrooms at parties just last week. To my dismay, the bathroom was mostly empty save for two women, both of whom were carrying entire wine bottles with large straws poking out of the tops, which I found funny.

“You went for the whole bottle, huh?” I said, trying to sound cool but instead sounding like a dad trying to fit in.

“Yeah! Why not?” they laughed, “Diplo’s here!” Unable to tell if they were being ironic, I over-enthusiastically and disingenuously agreed. Then we parted ways and never saw each other again for the rest of our lives.

This was a good tip; I blame user error.

6. Bring extra tampons to make friends on said trips to the bathroom.

I did bring a tampon! It was all-natural, eco-friendly, sustainably produced and no one asked for it.

7. If you see a circle and it’s crowded enough, execute the slow back bump, apologize and then ask how everyone’s night is going.

About an hour into our Hudson River journey, I performed the slow bump into a clump of friendly-looking women. Instead of preceding the meet-cute of my dreams, we exchanged such profuse and groveling apologies that an outsider would have guessed we’d burned each other’s homes down instead of gently brushed elbows. The conversation ended there and I immediately called my lawyer to press charges.

8. Migrate towards the solo people at the bar and ask what they’re drinking to spark conversation.

Me: “Getting your own bottle, huh? Might as well do it up!”

Woman: “Ha, yep!”

Woman departs bar; I wonder if I have literally any other questions in my arsenal and/or died and came back as a dad visiting his son’s fraternity.

9. Channel Rosie Assoulin who, according to Leandra, talks to any and everyone at parties.

As I do not know Rosie Assoulin personally, I struggled to heed this particular tip with any authority. But that’s hardly an excuse for spending the first half of the party standing around with false purpose, getting to know my bag. I’d like to credit an Assoulian spirit for my first actual conversation, but it was me who was approached, not the other way around…

Real interaction #1: She knew my brother, she said, and wanted to say hi. I told her I loved her. Just kidding, but I did think it. We hung out for a while before I got worried I was clinging and wandered off.

Real interaction #2: Soon after, I ran into a guy I’d met during my hunt for a Craigslist roommate. After telling him I was there alone, perhaps too eagerly and with a look in my eyes that said HELP, he said, “Well it was nice to see you!” and nearly fell overboard in his scramble to get away.

Real interaction #3: What ultimately cracked the tension wide open was when two women from Seventeen magazine, emanating kindness, came up to me to say hi. They’d seen themselves on Man Repeller’s Instagram story. We hung out for more than 30 minutes! We told each other things! Then, I followed them to the tattoo table where…

Real interaction #4: I ran into another of my brother’s friends who recognized me. (Hi Andy, thank you for being the social butterfly that you are.) She was waiting to get a tattoo of the phrase “no. 1” on her pinkyShe knew the artist and said he’d do her a favor. Same. We followed the mutual-friend-run-in protocol and sent a photo to my brother.

Real interaction #5, the one that ruled them all: While posing for said photo, a guy asked if I wouldn’t mind being their fourth player in a round of rosé pong. Yes, he said rosé pong, and yes, I said I would. Desperate times call for you not judging me right now.

We didn’t end up finishing the round because who cares (confirmed: not a dad at a frat party), but I did spend the rest of the night with Ethan, my teammate, and David and Kaylan, our opponents. We even went to the after party together. I all but forgot I’d come alone; I got their numbers!

10. If all else fails, just pretend everyone in the room is your mom.

Fortunately I never had to employ this particular tip, which I frankly found a little befuddling.

I hate to admit it, but going to a party alone wasn’t so terrible. Not unlike the surge of affection I feel for strangers I’m stuck in unfortunate situations with, I found that being nervous and unsure of myself ultimately made for a sort of endearing social lubricant. People were sympathetic and kind, and actually did most of the work for me. Had I been there with friends, I don’t think I’d have talked to any of them. It’s a lesson I almost wish I hadn’t learned, because it proves what I wish weren’t true: Making friends as an adult might be as easy as showing up alone.

Photos provided by Haley Nahman.

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  • jdo719

    Your instagram stories re: this LITERALLY had me on the edge of my seat. You are so brave.

  • elpug

    Kudos to you for your bravery! I never would have had the guts in the first place and it seems like the night ended well! So often it seems like people who go out with their friends like to stick with those friends the whole night and have a hard time letting others in to their ~circles~, assuming the other person is there with friends too, as is often the case. It’s nice to hear this turned out pretty well and next time I go out -which is seldom- I will try to be more open to those who may be going stag.

  • Beasliee

    Excellent work. I think the lesson here for all of us is that next we are at a party with our friends and we see someone on their own, be nice and welcome said loner into your crew for the night!

  • Annie

    I used to be a flight attendant, and on layovers you regularly have to choose between staying in the hotel room or venturing out alone. I’ve made friends/kind acquaintances all over, and I’ve pretty much patented my “new friend pick up line”:

    “Hi, I’m not from here/am only here for a day, what do you recommend I do?”

    Or something like that. At the very least, you get an okay conversation (people LOVE to talk about what they are into) and at best, you get invited to cool stuff/make new friends!

    Although I suppose this tactic might be strange on a boat. I’d have to think that one through.

  • Well at least there was copious rosé for social lubricating purposes. I aspire to go to more parties alone to meet new people but it’s SO SCARY! This was the perfect situation because you were on a boat and couldn’t bail.

  • Kate

    Your hair looks glorious. Also, does your bag have a drawer?

  • Adrianna

    This is the one party random people I follow on the internet seemed to have attended. (A spinning instructor, Dorinda from Real Housewives, and now Man Repeller.)

  • Andrea Raymer

    you should have gone to talk to Olivia from the Bachelor!

    my go-to line when at a party (actually really just bachelor viewing parties that the cast is being paid to be at) is find a smaller group and say “Can i just stand here to pretend I have friends”

  • Jennifer

    The fact that you wore yellow cracks me up!! Proud that you stuck it out (alas having no choice not to bc BOAT), but you are a queen for this!

  • Imaiya Ravichandran

    okay this is kind of random but: band t’s!!! or sports team apparel, whatves. they honestly saved my life when i was on exchange in france and had to attend aperitifs (mixers) without knowing a single soul.( my french was also pretty rough at that point, which didn’t help.) my going out strategy became wear band t —> stand by bar —> look approachable. i’d usually go with my yeezus tour shirt as it always got me the most convos. (this was back when kanye was controversial-yet-cool, not full-fledged dbag. nowadays, i think i’d go for avril lavigne “letting go” T circa 2002.) ANYWAY, point is, its amazing how much more willing people are to approach u when they have an obvious conversation starter like “omg wasn’t his last album amazing?!” or “damn raptors suck this year”. once time, the convo got so interesting, i ended up making out with the guy after!! that was cool. i guess what I’m trying to say is: kanye helped me and he can help u too…if u let him.

    • Not Lenny!

      I’ve made so many friends because of Leafs gear!

    • Joella Almeida

      always works!

  • Kate

    I always pretend I’m visiting or just moved to the place where I am, randomly got an invite to whatever thing, or just happened to wander by whatever place. Gives me a, I have TONS of friends somewhere ELSE attitude, and makes it easier for me to say things about myself or ask people dumb questions. I’m new!

  • Marianne R

    Something quite similar happened to me the other day. I went to visit a couple of friends who live just outside of Paris and have just moved in together. They invited me and because I’m in the process of moving to Australia for a year, I thought this might be a good opportunity to see them before leaving. So I travelled (I don’t live very far away – Brussels – but still) to see them and go to their house-warming party. I knew I would know no-one. There was only one girl I knew, but she didn’t stay the entire party. And I could not leave either because I was staying at my friend’s place.

    I enjoyed myself most of the evening. But I have to say that the level of active socializing wore me out. Moreover, I found it hard to keep up the positive-outgoing-“let’s get to know new people”-attitude after I had a few less enjoyable conversations involving unsolicited and judging career advice.

    Having the purpose of feeding myself helped me throughout the night. And when I had done more than my share of active socializing (and the party was coming to a close), I just threw in the towel and read articles on my phone while lounging on the couch.

  • Stephanie

    You on a boat = me at Camp MR! WE R BRAVE

  • Caroline

    This got me lol’n
    I give you my #1 conversation starter question: “Anything funny happen to you today?”
    50/50 someone will either say, what? no? or they will tell you a great story, and the latter people make for good friends!

  • Props to you, Haley. This is literally my worst nightmare scenario. My palms started to sweat halfway through your post.

  • Marie

    LOVE this article. I was smiling/awkwardly holding in laughs during multiple moments. Keep up the bravery Haley.

  • The Fluffy Owl

    You are my brave hero. I would have just stayed home after “…It was hosted by “The Fat Jew,” sponsored by White Girl Rosé, with a performance by Diplo…”
    Soooooo much nope going on 😉

  • Car

    Very impressed with these tips and your bravery!
    The last time I went to a party alone, I was relieved that another solo guest chatted me up right away. It took me 20 minutes of talking to realize that he was my old camp counselor, who all the 13 year old girls had a crush on….he had ABSOLUTELY no recollection of me when I told him but wow what an uncomfortable night

  • Meg S

    Once I get over the social anxiety of being at an event alone, my gemini side comes out and I’m making friends with everyone. At work functions, this means gathering a bunch of people together (and collecting business cards) for lunch before reconvening in the afternoon. At parties, this means telling funny stories and collecting phone numbers.

    I’m that person that makes friends on plane flights and everyone probably hates me lol

  • Forget the pink – you looked chic as hell!


  • Kellie Schipper

    1-8 are literally me at any party haha so proud of you! And the Instagram story was thrilling 🙂

  • Kristin

    You look like a blonde Miss Geist post-makeover in a good way.

  • Haha this perfectly sums up going to parties alone. I went to one alone last year, went straight to the bar and luckily some nice girls noticed I was alone and offered to hang out but it felt kind of awkward after a while so I basically kept on moving along and trying to meet new people as much as I could. At the end of the night I did meet one really nice girl and we chatted until the end, she told me she thought I was brave for coming alone 🙂

  • Andrea

    The secondhand awkwardness of this is so painful/good! The accidental bump nearly killed me.
    (FYI it’s The Fat Jewish not The Fat Jew, which sounds kind of offensive)

  • Sophie

    This is a brilliant read! Haha I relate to you sooo much ❤️

  • For people who have social anxiety – like me – I’d love to go out and do something that scares me, such as go to ridiculous parties on my own. Because you really never know when you could land on the best friend you never met, right?

    Meg @ its.meg-ramsay.com

  • Kelly Spicer

    Important question: where is your bag from?

  • Really enjoyed reading this! Laughed a lot.

    I’m pretty used to going to events alone. I figure, if someone’s gonna be a snob after you’re friendly with them, that’s their problem.

  • Aggie

    This was so GREAT to read!

  • Amanda Orlando

    I laughed out loud at this article so many times!!

  • Zoe Weiner

    I had a similar experience traveling alone for the first time to an island that I didn’t realize was a COMPLETE party destination (that one’s on me.). Stil, though — big ups, big (kind of loser-ish feeling, but ok in the end!) downs. Thanks for this! Here’s my similar takeaways, in case you’re interested 🙂 http://letsjustzo.com/solo-travel-really-like/

  • Néo Bourgeois — Christum

    Terrible/Great, cool binary proposition, it was the best of times it was the worst of times! Everyone looks at me in a space, people are not sure if I’m a hipster, international dancer or an eclectic billionaire. Ambiguity is the best route to optimize social dynamics in any setting.

  • I enjoyed this but also feel like there was a point at which you may have needed a hug and was sad that I was only reading and not present to help – watching other people experience social anxiety makes me too sad to do nothing about it. My social anxiety doesn’t show up at press events because Cape Town + fashion = the same 50 people at every brand party, but it shows up everywhere else as an irrational yet unshakeable feeling that people (even the ones who invited me?) only tolerate my presence and don’t really want me around. But you made it! Felt like victory when you found friends. 🙂

  • Zoë Cullen

    “I wonder if I have literally any other questions in my arsenal and/or died and came back as a dad visiting his son’s fraternity.” it me.

  • As a person who has always struggled pretty badly with anxiety, I actually kind of love going to parties alone because I almost always have a great time and it reminds me that I’m actually capable of overcoming it! I think the trick for those of us not blessed with natural friend-magnetism is just to lean into the awkwardness. We all feel like we have to be the “cool girl” who has all-the-friends, but I’ve found every time that allowing yourself to be a little vulnerable with people (admitting that you’re alone and could use a friend!) creates an instant connection. People can relate, you’ll always find someone who will make an effort to include you, and you just go from there… Surprisingly easy, humans are nice! (Can also be a good way to meet new dating prospects that you don’t already know, if that’s an incentive haha)

  • Sydney Joseph

    I love the purse you wore to this event! Who makes it?!

  • “Woman departs bar; I wonder if I have literally any other questions in my arsenal and/or died and came back as a dad visiting his son’s fraternity.”
    Marry me! Seriously, I love dad jokes. Maybe I’m a latter day mom – the ultimate dad-joke enthusiast?