For me, high school parties varied based on which group of friends I was hanging with at the time. Some parties involved nothing other than sitting around in someone's basement, playing video games and watching movies and eating processed snack foods.
Others were... a little different. One time, my best friend and I smuggled a fifth of vodka into our friend's sweet sixteen party, where we sat alone in a back room trading it back and forth. By the end of the night I was drunk for the first time in my life and she was near the point of passing out. Things took a turn for the worse when instead of my older sister and her boyfriend picking us up as originally planned, my mother showed up out of the blue. And despite my brilliant idea to disguise my inebriated state by throwing a coat over my face, she knew exactly what was going on the moment she laid eyes on me. I got in major trouble for that one.
By the time I was a junior in high school, most of my friends were college-aged, and in turn I transitioned to going to older parties rather than ones thrown by my peers. I'd sneak out in the middle of the night or lie to my mom about where I was going, which was usually the anarchist bookstore that became party central after hours. We'd listen to music and have political debates and drink cheap boxed wine and play games of spin-the-bottle, and in the morning I'd wake up on the floor with some crusty punk's combat boot about to kick me in the face as they were leaving.
I never went to my senior prom (and, personally, I don't regret it), but I did go to a "mock" prom set up by my older friends the same year-- you can see me in the picture, back row middle, next to the girl with short black hair. Everyone got dressed up and it was pretty close to a real prom experience, except we only had to hang out with people we liked and got to listen to music we loved instead of enduring some awful school-hired DJ's set list. It was a blast.
But even throughout all that, I still had friends who had parties that were completely different. As a senior I went to a joint birthday party that was a scavenger hunt, where we split into groups and drove all over town trying to collect random, ridiculous items off a list; another cinephile friend of mine would have weekly movie screenings of obscure David Lynch and Fellini films, where people would watch and then discuss afterward. None of that was the booze-and-drug-fueled happenings so often portrayed in teen films or books. Almost all of my exposure to any of that during my teen years came from hanging with an older crowd. Which isn't to say that didn't happen in my own age group-- I'm sure it did, I just wasn't hanging with the right kids. (Actually, I was definitely hanging with the right kids. My high school friends were awesome.)
So, what are/were the parties during your high school years like? Any funny/crazy stories you want to share? And are there any YA books you felt represented your own experiences?