Divorce is big business, and I don’t mean a five-minute phonecall to lawyers costing the same as a city break – it’s the business of divorce that’s becoming nothing short of an industry. Selling family homes, dividing assets, rooting through pension pots and off-shore accounts. But please, honey, that’s old news! Cakes, new dresses, fancy locations, first-class flights, all-night dancing and endless cocktails; if you thought your wedding was over the top, the latest expense to add to your divorce bill is the – drum roll – divorce party.
Party streamers at the ready, just over 40 per cent of marriages in the UK end in divorce; in the States, rates are even higher at somewhere closer to 50 per cent. Divorce parties are already big in America – I know this to be a true fact because as with all my journalistic research, I went straight to social media and searched “divorce party”. There are hundreds and hundreds of #divorceparty posts, and they’re usually folks from Missouri holding a cupcake rather than Mancunians hoisting a pink gin.
We Brits love all things American, don’t we? We can’t help ourselves. So it’s only a matter of time before the divorce party business begins to boom over here. I doubt divorce parties will hit mainland Europe any time soon though; my Italian friends find the idea of takeaway coffee obscene and my French acquaintances think sandwiches eaten at desks are culturally offensive (pourquoi have a cheese and pickle sarnie when you can have a two-hour three-course lunch with vin rouge every day?) Up there with stags in Newcastle and hen parties in, well, wherever, regardless of the celebration, Brits love a proper knees-up, which is why I quizzed only British friends about how they plan to celebrate their divorce, as opposed to anyone chic from Paris. I mean, imagine a chic divorce party – what’s the point?
Depending on religious background and beliefs, divorce doesn’t necessarily carry the same stigma as it often does here and in the States. In parts of north Africa and the Middle East, for example, when a woman gets divorced, she returns to the family home to the beat of tambourines, drums, singing and vocal trills. Divorce in some African and Middle Eastern cultures is seen as a welcome party for the woman returning to her family. I can’t imagine myself returning to my mother’s bungalow in Gosforth. I think we’d last seven days before one of us moved out into the garden shed, although I do really like her husband, who she married in her mid-50s. On the subject of which, Mauritanian women go on to marry several times, each marriage an indication of her beauty and prowess. In Judaism, subject to mutual agreement, during a ceremony in front of two kosher witnesses, the husband gives his wife a document called a Get, written by a scribe, and the marriage is dissolved. In Japan, where a couple gets divorced every single second of the day, the soon to be ex-spouses take a hammer to their wedding rings, smashing them as a sign of the ending of their union before storing them inside a frog- shaped receptacle.
In Japan, you see, frogs represent change, which makes me wonder: what might be the cultural equivalent for me, given a few days ago, I received an email informing me that a decree nisi had been granted?
There’s always Ibiza, I suppose.
Ushuaïa, Ibiza: not a hotel I’d normally head to, is this summer offering divorce packages. I haven’t set foot in the place, which has a nightclub attached to it, but as far as I can tell, if hotel guests aren’t strewn across dance floors at 6am, you might find them shimmying poolside at sunset wearing the full Ushuaïa fashion range (could’ve been the ecstasy that made them buy up the whole shop).
“Although they might be sad at first, becoming free is the best thing that can happen to some, so why not celebrate it?” says the hotel’s website where the divorce package is advertised in great detail (minus the prices). The main scene of the crime appears to be hosted in the “Party All Night Long” room, where to cries of “Speech! Speech!”, the person getting divorced will, undoubtedly, partake in some major ex-bashing. Superior Club rooms can be booked for five friends and more, and in the morning, if everyone is still alive, an “Unexpected Breakfast” will be served.
I’ve been going to Ibiza for 20 years and believe me when I say I’ve seen a thing or two, or three, or four, but I’ve never, ever been served an Unexpected Breakfast. I wonder what it is. A slice of toast served by a dance troupe wearing nothing but nipple tassels with waxed floofs?
The “D-Group” can then retire to the jacuzzi at The Ushuaïa Tower Pool and enjoy a Be Single Finger Buffet (my mind is racing) on the divorcee’s hotel- room roof terrace, or everyone can down a cocktail at the Up Ibiza Sky Rooftop terrace in the hope of recovering from the mother of all hangovers. In recent years, Ibiza has become a billionaire’s playground, so I doubt this will be the cheapest option open to the recently divorced, but if you book, please remember to use the hashtag so I can find your party pics.
On Oprah Daily, the guru otherwise known as, um, well, Oprah Winfrey, suggests a TV-show-themed party, amongst a few other odd suggestions. She also thinks also partygoers should hold back on rubbishing exes and that the party should be celebratory and beautiful (I guess she hasn’t visited the UK for a while). Oprah Daily goes on to suggest partygoers share positive intentions and create vision boards; she does not, however, suggest a Be Single Finger Buffet, which is obviously disappointing. The Americans (when I say Americans, I mean American women – I couldn’t see any images of men in my #divorceparty search, apart from the odd face on a dartboard, that is) seem to love a themed cupcake.
There are boxes upon boxes of pretty heart and champagne-shaped biscuits and cakes decorated with poetic ditties, such as “My vagina deserves better”, and “I do, I did, I’m done”, and “His loss, I’m free” and “I wish you the best, but you already had it”. Wowsers, ladies. Oprah said positive intentions, not voodoo confectionary.
Cupcakes, balloons, party venues, a new long frock as beautiful as a wedding dress only a hell of a lot sexier… I won’t be having a divorce party, but I shall raise a toast with a few good friends. I’ll toast a long road travelled that was ever so difficult to navigate; a winding road that ended in so many cul-de-sacs and dead ends.
I never want to travel down the divorce road again, but thankfully it’ll soon be shut down, marked clearly by a warning sign: “DO NOT ENTER”. It’s the future and what lies ahead that I’m interested in now, not the past. Saying that, ask me how I feel the day I receive my decree absolute, and perhaps I’ll want to party all night long. Or perhaps I’ll just pop the kettle on and make myself a nice cup of tea. Don’t worry Mum, I’m not going to be moving in.