It's Harry Potter: The Exhibition time at Pacific Science Center (apparently, occlumency is gaining legitimacy in the science world)—and for the opening night reception, the Center is decked out. This creates a bizarre juxtaposition: People in fancy party clothes and/or wizarding garb—little black dresses plus Gryffindor ties, a grown man in a purple cloak—sit at banquet tables, eating shepherd's pie and petits fours, listening to chamber music. Behind them, a 15-foot praying mantis waves its jagged arms, while a person-sized bug in a lab coat welcomes us to the buffet line.

There's a line for the Potter exhibit, so partyers wander around the hissing cockroaches and naked mole rats. We play a game where you stick plastic cafeteria food on lunch trays as they whir by on a conveyor belt. (We lose.) Inside the butterfly exhibit, a blue morpho lands on my head, and I'm advised thusly: "Take it from a married guy, your wedding day is nothing compared to the day a butterfly lands on your head."

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Finally, just inside the doors of Harry Potter, a woman in black robes calls out, "File right on in!" in a faux-British accent. Kids get sorted by the sorting hat, malodorous smoke billows out of the Hogwarts Express, squeals of delight fill the air—and then we're in. Stuff that's inside: Buckbeak. Fawkes. Various dragons/thestrals. Outfits. Brooms. A pull-up-your-own-mandrake-root station (it screams!). Petrified Colin Creevey. Tom Riddle's ink-stained, Basilisk-fang-impaled diary. Dumbledore's Army T-shirts. Then we escape into the night, still buzzing, surrounded by partially submerged orcas and strangely aggressive ducks. Hooray for "science." recommended

Want The Stranger to note the tuxedoed man eating macaroni and cheese in front of the cockroach exhibit at your party? E-mail the date, place, and party details to partycrasher@thestranger.com.