People Saw the Barbie Movie, Then Partied Barbie Style

On Saturday afternoon, Shallon Lester, 36, a YouTuber, saw “Barbie” with 20 girlfriends and then headed back to her house in Bozeman, Mont., for a “Barbiecue.”

She renamed her five-bedroom home “Shallibu Barbie’s Dreamhouse” for the soiree and set up hot-pink balloon arches, a Barbie-themed Slip ‘N Slide and a splash pad. When the ladies weren’t playing in the water, they played a game of Barbie trivia. “I’ve been Googling what Barbie’s full name is, how is she related to Ken, which professions she had,” Ms. Lester said in a phone interview.

A server dressed as Ken, served pink cocktails like dragon fruit margaritas and huckleberry Malibu rum sparklers, she said. Strawberry hummus was served, along with a Barbie cake with a doll hidden inside.

“I have my vintage black-and-white Barbie swimsuit, a neon spandex swimsuit and a pink patent skirt with pink cowboy boots and a pink cowboy hat,” Ms. Lester said. “I decided I needed to do a few outfit changes, just like Barbie does.”

Ms. Lester said the Barbie movie is bringing so much joy to the world. “I just really think that America needs the Barbie movie right now,” she said. “Everything has been so serious for so long, we, as a collective people, need something fun and silly and colorful and bright and shiny.”

Some “Barbie” viewers are doing far more than just heading to the theaters to see the new movie. (The film, which opened on Friday, was the biggest opener of 2023 so far.) They are hosting and attending Barbie-themed dinners, happy hours, club nights, birthday parties, bachelorette parties, play dates, toy swaps, office parties and, of course, Barbiecues.

The movie has proved an excellent excuse to dress up, be nostalgic with family members and friends, celebrate women, pretend to be kids again, and feel joy and silliness.

“I wasn’t even the biggest Barbie fan growing up, but this movie feels like a cultural moment,” said Bryanne Leeming, 33, who runs an education start-up in Boston and got excited about the movie after seeing all the marketing. “I’ve learned that life is too short, and you have to make a big deal out of things like this when they come around.”

So on Saturday afternoon she had 10 friends over to “be ridiculous and pretend we’re kids,” she said.

She ordered Barbie-tinis — premade cocktails and mocktails infused with vodka, hibiscus, tea syrup, peach schnapps and lemon — from a friend’s company. “The cocktail is hot pink,” Ms. Leeming said, laughing.

She handed out little pink heart sunglasses, visors and fanny packs. “I even made goody bags, like at a kid’s birthday party,” she said. They were filled with pink Sour Patch Kids, Pop Rocks and Bubble Tape.

Jennifer Hansen, a youth services program coordinator at the Dover Area Community Library in Dover, Pa., decided to organize something at the library after texting with a friend with whom she used to play Barbies as a child.

“I just remembered how much I loved playing Barbies and acting out all these scenarios, and using my imagination,” Ms. Hansen, 30, said. “Right now it’s just a perfect time to remember that happy feeling because we are still coming out of Covid, and it’s such a weird time.”

On Friday morning 90 people, from 2-year-olds to grandparents, met at the library for a family-friendly Barbie blowout. The children made Barbie-size books, played in an inflatable pool, solved a Barbie puzzle and colored in Barbie pictures. Some brought in their favorite Barbies (there were extra for those who didn’t have any) and swapped clothes and accessories. “One brought a Barbie in a wheelchair, one brought one with a prosthetic leg,” Ms. Hansen said. “When I was little, that wasn’t a thing that existed.”

Yael Buechler, 37, a rabbi, hosted a Barbie-themed Shabbat lunch and dinner at her home in the Bronx, even though her sons, 5 and 7, aren’t into Barbie. “They are more into ‘Frozen,’” she said.

She thought it was an opportune moment to explore some of the themes of Barbie with her kids. “There is this idea in Judaism that God shapes who we are, but it’s ultimately up to us to make our own decisions about our lives,” she said. “I don’t want to give away any spoilers from the movie, but the idea of individuality and the role of a person in the world really came through.”

They discussed themes from the movie around the table, which was covered in pink items including a custom challah cover that says “Shabbat Shalom” in a pink, Barbie-inspired graphic. Rabbi Buechler also made challahs with metallic sprinkles and pink sprinkles, “It was tough to find the pink sprinkles this week,” she said.

For Jasmine Lee, having a Barbie-themed party for her 28th birthday last week at a friend’s house in Austin, Tex., meant a chance to celebrate women.

“We all came dressed up as whatever Barbie we wanted to be,” she said. “It was almost a symbol of women empowerment and women being able to do anything they want in life. Barbie realizes that, and I think that’s why people like her so much.”

Aqua’s “Barbie Girl” song was on repeat much of the time, Ms. Lee added, and “no one even got sick of it.”