On the 1st of October, and 2nd of October, thousands of young people will be dragging their perfectly ironed (by mum) blue suits to Birmingham for the much anticipated yearly occasion of Conservative Party Conference. Or as I call it, holiday.
They’ll be spending the following 4 days bumping into important people and taking awkward handshake pictures while the older generations just chat away with various journalists and charity representatives with something interesting to say. Twitter will be a continuous stream of tweets about seeing this person and that person, with perfectly filtered selfies, and it’s easy to feel like pretty much everyone else is more popular than you are.
However, Conference is an amazing event to be at, even if you’re not trying to (not so subtly) beef up your CV for candidate selection. It can also be a daunting perspective because…people. So as I’m an introvert who hates being around strangers despite putting on a rather cute smile if I may say so myself, I’ve decided to compile this (semi-humorous) guide to surviving Party Conference.
1.Find a squad to rely on.
Even if none of your hometown mates is going to Conference, it’s the age of social media…find a couple of people you like and go around with them. You’ll need moral support the moment the till at the lobby bar crashes for half an hour and the person behind you in the queue is your biggest crush ever. You also need someone to keep you accountable about your food intake.
2.Keep some time free from talks and meet as many interesting people as possible.
Get some fresh air. Grab a coffee with your Twitter network. Stalk Fraser Nelson. You can casually bump into Dan Hannan at the lobby bar at any time (and he’s somehow never drinking). It doesn’t matter what you do as long as you go home having talked to people beyond your squad. You have a year to recover from being sociable.
3.Don’t keep staring at the phone if you’re alone
You don’t want to look like you’re not someone interesting and busy with work emails while at conference, but don’t go to the extreme. Look around, smile if you meet someone’s eyes etc so that people know you’re approachable…chances are if you are at the same event you have something in common, and networking is a very valuable thing. And there is a fringe event about pretty much anything,
4.Buy a portable charger, charge it in full and don’t forget it or lose it.
There will be at least one occasion that your healthy living pledge to walk to conference and back home will end up in giving money to Uber. I’m told you can get a replacement pass if you ruin it or lose it but you can’t get a Uber back to the hotel without juice in the iPhone. Pro-tip, there is always an idiot who puts the home address elsewhere in the country by drunkenly clicking home in the app so delete that while you’re still sober before going.
5.Become a red wine person.
I’ve never been a red wine person but among the poor quality stuff that is given out at receptions reds are absolutely nicer. My descriptions of the various whites tried over the first couple of days are very colourful and not appropriate for polite company. Remember to drink water as well as wine and keep something to combat dehydration at hand, if you’re under 30 conference is a series of really long days during which you’re lucky to see a bed, and more often then not those who do see a bed are not actually sleeping in it and it may not even be theirs.
I hope these tips help you feel less of a newbie and get in the swing of things but anyway just have fun. Nobody will remember most of what happened after dusk anyway, unless it’s so hilarious it ends up on Buzzfeed, so go ahead and sing “I love Margaret Thatcher” for the 10th time in half an hour. We’re only young once. No, actually this is not true, I have a few tales to tell from last year. Don’t do anything too bad which could be recounted in a speech at your wedding reception unless you know you’ll laugh at it while the in-laws faint.
If anyone has any more tips, feel welcome to write them down in the comments.