Two young men standing against wall of
Omar Dhadra (left) and his friend and co-organiser Kesh Sharma. All photos: Aiyush Pachnanda

He Invited Everyone on TikTok to His Birthday Party. Would Anyone Show Up?

When Omar Dhadra posted a video with the address of his 21st birthday celebrations, he didn't exactly expect to get 2.5m views.

Ever hosted a party before? Remember the days leading up to it, filled with anxiety over the number of people you've invited? Too many, too little, just enough? Or do you just hope that the police don't get called and it's a night to remember?

That's the feeling that Omar Dhadra had after he invited everyone on TikTok to his 21st birthday party. In just two weeks, the London-based university student's post hit 2.5 million views, with influencers like Lauren Alexis, Piri of drum and bass duo Piri & Tommy, and even Reese's UK showing interest.


"I really don't know what is going to happen, to be honest," Dhadra laughed on Zoom, a few days before the event. "It's hard to predict whether too many or too little people are going to come."

Chalk it up to the TikTok generation utilising their natural marketing ingenuity and trying to create a new wave of Skins parties inspired by Project X, a 2012 movie about a bunch of teenagers trying to throw the wildest party imaginable. In early March 2023, a southwest London house party hit the FYP after a video describing it as “SW version of Project X” went viral, with people scaling roofs and climbing into residential gardens. Police had to issue a dispersal order on the night.

“[There were] fireworks being thrown too!!” one user said in the comments. “Should've just protested against the feds [,] would've rewritten history,” said another. Dhadra’s 21st birthday party was a ticketed event at an official venue – not a house party – but everything about the video, including its devil-may-care “fuck it, I’m posting this” attitude, made people anticipate similar levels of chaos.


But does going viral guarantee anything IRL? Do 240,000 likes on TikTok actually translate to a sick party? I wanted to find out, so I headed down to the original location in the video to find out. It was an hour before things were set to kick off, and Dalston’s streets were quiet, so VICE photographer Yushy Pachnanda and I popped into a local pub as we waited for things to heat up.

The bar staff knew about the viral TikTok and seemed slightly anxious that their quiet Thursday evening shift was going to be thrown into turmoil by a swarm of drug-fuelled teenagers. “It's dodgy in there at the best of times," one said of the listed venue.

With the streets still empty at 9.30PM, we decided to head in to take a look to see if anything was happening. There wasn’t anybody on the pavement outside the basement – maybe they were all packed in downstairs instead? We tentatively descended the carpeted stairs, only to be greeted by the owner standing against the wall of his empty venue. I asked if he was concerned about his location being on a viral TikTok. "No, no, no, not at all – people aren't stupid. They won't turn up without tickets," he said dismissively. "If people do turn up, I'll slap them up. I'm the daddy here!"

Turns out that the police had contacted the bar a week earlier to warn of the video and asked them to cancel the event. Dhadra and Kesh Sharma – a friend helping him organise the event – moved his birthday a 15-minute bus down the road to Basing House, a 300-capacity venue.


We arrived at the new venue at 10.15PM. By right, things should have started to kick off by now but there wasn’t even a queue at the door. At this point, I began to doubt if this word-of-mouth rager was legit.

A man leaning against a pillar in Basing House

The author waiting for the party to kick off.

A few days earlier, Dhadra had told me he was throwing this party – as well as previous parties under his Planet Plus banner – as a direct response to the present state of British nightlife, which he described as having lost touch with the younger generation and underground scene. "We're creating what we imagine the perfect night to be," he said over Zoom, sitting in his uni accommodation. "We're not actually making money, to be honest. That's not what this is all about. It's more about just having a sick night."

Inside the club, the smoke machine was working overtime, meaning Yushy and I were losing each other within five feet of one another. A crowd of about 50 people who were in their late teens and early 20s gathered around the decks, glow sticks in hand. At 24, I felt pretty much ancient. The venue ran a strict “doubles only” drinks policy – not that this seemed to trouble the crowd. You could easily walk up to the bar and get served in seconds. Occasionally, a group would stumble over to order a round of sambucca. There was little sight of any other substance – no keys being sniffed on the dancefloor or suspiciously long toilet queues – other than one stoner who got ushered out after trying to roll a zoot in the smoking area. Then again, it was a Thursday.  

A DJ behind the decks in front of a dancefloor.

On the dancefloor.

Dhadra’s dream is to create a space for new-wave dance music, with friendsand upcoming DJs behind the decks. Glowsticks were hoisted in the air every time a remix of PinkPantheress and Nia Archives came on. But even less mainstream acts like Piri – who has found success through TikTok – kept the crowd loose in between deeper garage cuts. It very quickly became apparent that the room was split in two – just over half of the attendees knew Dhadra personally, while the rest had heard about his birthday from his video. Dhadra’s friends were just happy to celebrate his birthday with him. The crowd from TikTok seemed generally disappointed that it wasn't a wild street party with people lighting cars on fire.

"I can't lie, I expected it to be like Project X, as it was advertised,” said a guy in a black bodywarmer and a fitted cap turned to the side, who gave his name as “Big Rammers”. “I thought it was going to be some house party. I thought there'd be feds turning up and it'd be massive. I turned up and it's some club ting, bro, with one floor. It's kinda dead, I can't lie." 

People on a dancefloor with red strobes

The dancefloor.

Despite the clear division in the room, there was one thing both sides agreed on: UK clubbing is dying. "I never want to go the club," one partygoer told me. "I'd much rather go to a rave or a house party. It's all about the crowd of people and the vibe of the night. Clubs just don't do it right."


Dhadra, Sharma and the attendees all spoke of disliking traditional, established clubs and their preference for nights organised by like-minded people in their peer group – music lovers who are more likely to play dance artists like 22-year-old Maisi, who performed on the night and has built a 142,000-strong following on TikTok thanks to her offbeat liquid D&B and funny videos. While the night might not be akin to the Project X chaos that some people anticipated, it's certainly pandering to an audience that feels misrepresented by event organisers. 

Posters advertising a Project X party

Posters advertising Dhadra's party.

"Clubs are not representing our generation's music," Sharma texted me through his pounding headache the day afterwards. The increasing cost of a club ticket might also be a factor, he adds: "Clubs have so much money and power and have completely missed our generation's needs but, for some reason, we still go to them." (Dhadra’s night, for the record, was free if you got tickets early, rising to £6 for latecomers.)

Since Dhadra’s TikTok, other content creators have begun adopting the viral marketing tactic of posting what appears to be an open invite to a #ProjectX house party – complete with road address – only to subsequently reveal that it’s a ticketed event or official night. In March, London musician Ella Eliza made a similar video advertising the “biggest party I’ve ever thrown”, and then followed up with a video that she really meant it was her “headline show and now 1.7m teenagers will show up… just to wreck the venue”. 


Maybe this is emblematic of a generation of savvy marketers; rather than host a wild night that actually gets out of control, they just want to project the promise and aesthetic of one. After all, who wants to be responsible when the police actually get called and your mum’s Princess Diana memorial plate gets smashed? 

For those who stuck around for Dhadra’s birthday, the aesthetic misaligning with the actual event didn't matter. As PinkPantheress boomed through the speakers for the second time, Dhadra climbed the decks, glow stick in hand, while around a hundred strangers and friends cheered him from below. This may not have been a Gen Z version of a Skins party or even a Project X party, but that was never the point for him. He just wanted a fun event to celebrate his 21st birthday party. The next day, I texted him to ask how he found the night. "BEST BIRTHDAY EVER!" he replied. 

A man holding a glow stick on top of DJ decks

The birthday boy on top of the decks.