Gatsby’s lavish parties in The Great Gatsby are one of the most memorable aspects of the novel. The narrator and Gatsby’s neighbor, Nick, first sees them from a distance.
Besides actually seeing the “men and girls ... like moths among the whisperings and the champagne and the stars” (the beginning of chapter 3), Nick also sees the preparation for the parties and their aftermath week after week. “Every Friday five crates of oranges and lemons arrive,” and “on Mondays eight servants, including an extra gardener, toiled all day with mops and scrubbing-brushes and hammers and garden-shears, repairing the ravages of the night before.”
After hearing the gossip about the parties, and seeing the extensive work they entail on a weekly basis, readers witness one of Gatsby’s parties in chapter 3, when Nick attends a party and describes it in detail.
Buffet tables, champagne, streams of cars, crowds of people, dancing, and even a live orchestra all make the party a lavish affair. Hour after hour, the party seems to become even more elaborate. In about the middle of chapter 3, we read:
By midnight the hilarity had increased. A celebrated tenor had sung in Italian, and a notorious contralto had sung in jazz ... A pair of stage twins, who turned out to be the girls in yellow, did a baby act in costume, and champagne was served in glasses bigger than finger-bowls.
The lavish glamour of Gatsby’s parties, so fully described in chapter 3, is so remarkable that it lingers on in the imagination of the narrator, even after Gatsby’s death.
Very near the end of the novel, Nick says,
I spent my Saturday nights in New York because those gleaming, dazzling parties of his were with me so vividly that I could still hear the music and the laughter, faint and incessant, from his garden, and the cars going up and down the drive.