There’s an off-license (some of you might call it a “liquor store”) in Hackney, east London, that’s advertising those big red plastic cups all of us here are familiar with from US films depicting young people gathered around illicit kegs, but fewer of us have actually seen.
Just Drinks is letting its customers know of the “solo” cups’ existence on a huge laser screen outside the shop, and sells them for £6.99 ($8.70) a pack. Why bother? Well, they just make drinks feel more American.
Across the world, both expats and people with little connection to America are gearing up to watch tonight’s election results in droves.
Jonathan Weil, an author from London who has only a few familial connections to the US and has never held a US election gathering before, is tonight hosting an election night poker party. The plan came about because, he said, “firstly, the unprecedented weirdness of this election, and the fact that the result seems to matter…more than any other in my lifetime. Secondly, because I haven’t played poker in ages and it seemed like an appropriately risky thing to do.”
Guests will be offered “a lot of hot dogs and a lot of Krispy Kreme donuts,” plus American beer, bourbon, and “weak black coffee,” he said.
The media organization Popbitch is hosting public party at a bar in Shoreditch with similar culinary leanings: they will offer “a pint of Goose Island 312 and a shot of bourbon on arrival,” American street food, and the chance to play games including “Toupla (Donald Trump toupé hoopla) or Trump Tower Jenga.”
Others eschew themes. Across London, Ohio-born Lisa Lucas and her partner are holding a low-key gathering with scones, soup, and “a bunch of physicists talking about election modeling,” she told Quartz.
Long day’s journey into night
From Dubai to Paris and Hong Kong to Brussels, absentee ballot voters and non-US citizens watching tensely from afar are organizing all-night cocktail sessions or breakfasts (depending on timezone.) Screenings are happening in American-themed diners, and in the hundreds-year-old wood-paneled dining hall at Exeter College, Oxford.
On Quartz’s public slack channel, people have been talking about the parties they plan to attend in Milan, Paris, and Valencia, and lamenting the difficulty of obtaining US products (like the solo cups, which, someone pointed out, are available online) in Europe.
Democrats Abroad, the US Democratic Party’s international arm, is—unsurprisingly—a particularly prolific party planner. Their planned events include an “Election night pant suit party” in Stavanger, a oil industry hub in southern Norway; a taco night in Köln, Germany; and an event in Rome that suggests attendees “COME SPEND THE NIGHT WITH FELLOW DEMOCRATS—AWAITING A RESOUNDING ELECTION VICTORY!” (yes, in all caps; yes, the certainty makes us nervous too.)
Back in London, I asked Just Drinks whether they were seeing an upsurge in solo cup sales ahead of the election, but they said they didn’t want to give out that information. Husnan Kazmi, who works behind the counter at the American Food Store, a dedicated shop selling US goods in West London, was more forthcoming, noting that Chex Mix had been popular in the last days. He said that while solo cup sales had been steady, more people have recently been asking about US flags: both large flags and “the wave around ones.”
But not everyone feels like partying.
“I vividly remember staying up for the 2008 elections because I wanted to experience the historical significance of the moment, much like the fall of the Berlin wall,” said one Paris resident (and non-US citizen) who didn’t want his name used because he works in public policy.
But tonight he’s planning to keep things low-key because he feels too anxious for full-on socializing.
“Tonight we are staying up to watch, not because a woman may finally become president of the United States, but to see whether America will make a horrifying mistake,” he said. In terms of security policy in Europe and the Middle East, and the buoyancy a Trump win could give European extremism in France, Germany, and the UK, he said, “the implications of this election are enormous.”