This image is a recent painting entitled "Party," by the German-Chinese artist and designer Yang Liu. In her fascinating series, "East Versus West," Liu illustrates various behavioral differences between German and Chinese culture. These include contrasting ways of eating, standing in line, expressing anger, dealing with problems, and many more. Each of the works consists of a blue "Western" side and a red "Eastern" side.
Throughout the series, which consists of thirty or so paintings, the blue sides also correspond very well with common white American behaviors. At parties, white folks do tend to talk together in small, separate clusters (especially, for some reason, in the kitchen). East Asian parties tend to consist of one large group, all partying together--eating; drinking; singing songs, both together and individually for the group; and leaving more or less together, all at the same time. African American parties tend to consist of loud music (and thus little talking), a lot of dancing, and a lot of food.
I can personally attest to the partying styles of these three different groups, and I should add that there's at least one more type of white party (a type more often indulged in by whites with money), the dinner party. At these less common gatherings, if the group is small enough, white folks interact together more as one group, like the partiers represented in Liu's red square. I should also add that "Asian" in this case often differs from "Asian American"; depending on the degree of assimilation to American culture by East Asian immigrants and their descendents, their parties can resemble the red square above instead of the blue one. And if they're young enough, thanks especially to the widespread popularity of hip hop culture, their parties can resemble African American parties, which probably deserve a differently colored square of their own.
In her book It's the Little Things, Lena Williams describes the contrast between white and black parties:
At white parties, people arrive on time prepared to wine, dine, and talk about office politics, child-care problems, summer rentals, and maybe--to liven things up--the local sports teams. They stick around for two hours at most, then they're off to the suburbs to relieve the baby-sitter. Eat beforehand, 'cause all you're going to be served, most likely, is finger food or hors d'oeuvres. When, and if, there is dancing, any black person present is expected to get out on the dance floor and perform for the whites gathered.The common white party style seems to reflect the average white person's more individualistic sense of him or herself. As scholar Ross Chambers puts it, whites perceive themselves "as individual historical agents whose unclassifiable difference from one another is their most prominent trait. Whiteness itself is thus atomized into invisibility through the individualization of white people."
Blacks, however, don't consider a social gathering a "PAAR-TAY!" unless there's music and dancing. No respectable black person would arrive at a party on time. [Talk] is usually minimal. Besides, it's hard to carry on a conversation when the music is at an earsplitting volume and folks are shaking booty in your face. Three to four hours later, we might be ready to wind down, or maybe not. And one expects a spread--which means ham, chicken, cheese, crackers, chips and dip, not to mention a variety of desserts. Anything less would be uncivilized.
One of Liu's other paintings, "Way of Life," captures well this difference between white and non-white identities (again, blue is the Western side, red the Eastern):
Since white people don't usually think of themselves as members of a racial group, that is, since they usually lack a group-oriented identity, it makes sense that their social gatherings would be more fragmented. And because, throughout the developing history of race relations, bodily qualities have been relegated to "inferior," non-white groups, and mental, rational qualities to the "superior" white group, whites are trapped inside bodies that don't feel much freedom to move. So it also makes sense that the amount of eating, dancing, and booty-shaking at their parties is relatively limited.