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Nick had watched the festivities at Gatsby's house from afar, so he nervously anticipated attending after he received a personalized invitation.  He is surprised to find that his host is somewhat of a myth and that none of the guests actually seem to know what he looks like.  Rumors circulate as often as the trays of liquor among the guests about Gatsby's background.  Nick sees these gossipmongers as superficial and shallow, a reflection of the party itself.  One guest sums up the attitude of the majority:

"I like to come," Lucille said. "I never care what I do, so I always have a good time."

These guests, though, are set up as a contrast to Gatsby's himself, who does not drink or participate in the frivolity of his own party.  He is a mostly silent observer, and Nick is fascinated by him.  Despite the carnival atmosphere of the party Gatsby hosts, Nick sees him as above the fray, as an admirable man very different from the guests he entertains.  Nick views the party as a conglomeration of attention-seeking free-loaders who can see no further than tonight's good time.

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