High school: The epic house party
I went to parties in high school, but they were either cast parties from a theater show I was involved with or large organized dances. But the house parties you see in the movies, where kids destroy someone's house and the cops are called and all sorts of shenanigans ensue? I never went to one of those. I know they existed, because I'm friends with people now who were present at those parties, but I wasn't in the circle of the people who made these parties happen. In high school I figured it was some sort of purposeful slight, like, "You know what makes this party great? People like Claire aren't here" but now I think nobody thought to ask me (which, in high school, is almost worse than being purposefully slighted.)
College: Big spring break
My roommates in college did the Cancun spring break thing, which was an experience I was both desperate to be a part of yet secretly glad I had no reason to be. I knew what I was missing out on--foam parties, getting blackout drunk, hooking up, and, my personal white whale--bikinis. I think even then I knew that was not really my scene, and yet, I wanted to be in it. Instead, I opted out of spring break all four years. Once I accompanied my dad to a conference at a really nice resort in Arizona. One year I traveled with my boyfriend to Egypt. Another year the same boyfriend and I rented a condo on the Delaware beach (in the chilly, foggy off-season.) I don't remember what I did the fourth year but it was probably something similar--a really nice spring break that I didn't appreciate because I wasn't doing the expected, popular kid thing. My friends who went to Cancun now swear I didn't miss out on anything, but that's easy for them to say, with their typical spring break privilege. To this day I have never been to Mexico.
Young adult: Las Vegas
I have never been to Las Vegas! I have attended several bachelorette parties in my life (not to brag) but none of them took place in Vegas, which I'm actually really grateful for, because that's a lot of money to spend on a bride. I feel a little hole in my life though, not knowing what it's like to see Britney live or eat breakfast at 3 AM or to feel inadequate by the pool both for the way I look in my bikini (bikini!!!!!) and my inability to snag a good chair. I still think I might go someday, and enjoy my old lady privilege by that point, doing what I really want to do and sleeping when and where I really want to sleep. But the key thing is that I missed doing this in my twenties/early thirties, when it really could have counted.
There are several party-time experiences I can boast--I went to the Jersey Shore before "The Jersey Shore" existed, attended a party in Florence that went south to the point where people had to go to the emergency room, took part in a bachelorette party in wine county that ended with the limousine driver angrily smashing a bottle of champagne to the ground, showed my face at a Syracuse frat party, even did Jello shots post-Cubs game in Wrigleyville. But these don't count, of course--it's only the parties that you're not invited to that stick in your memory.