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A Tirade Against Clubbing

July 22, 2013
With Ms. Emily, on a boat ride on the Thames.

Drinking champagne on a boat is sooo much classier, after all.

I don’t understand why people go clubbing.  I’ll go further: I think clubbing is the biggest scam of the modern twentysomething’s lifestyle. There.  I’ve said it.  I have whistle blown this entire malarkey wide open.  Seriously, have you ever actually thought about the merits of this seemingly ubiquitous social phenomenon?  It makes almost no sense.

Let’s consider the clubbing experience for a moment.  A recreation of this recreation, if you will:

It’s a Saturday night, and you are pumped: going clubbing!  Your friend knows a friend, and she said he knows a bouncer at the very exclusive, hip and trendy club “Plennus.”  This bouncer could get you and your friend into the VIP room of the club for some mad dancing and drinks!  So you don a very short skirt, a sparkly tube top and your highest high heels.  You teeter like Pisa as you put on your makeup and tease your hair.  Your friend arrives and promptly chastises you for not wearing slutty enough clothes.  Do you want to get into this club or not? Chagrined, you change and add more eye liner.  Now you both are late- already 10:30pm- and you realize you’ve spent over an hour and a half getting ready.

Myself, before going clubbing on Halloween.  Woot!  Dressed as a sexy, sexy... witch?

Look how pretty I am now! A little eye liner, a little lipstick and opening my lips suggestively is what makes an outfit.

It is mid-winter and about 5 degrees outside, but you can’t bring a coat or anything, as cloak rooms are always packed and cost money and take forever to use.  So you and your friend leave the flat in nothing but your clubbing outfits.  You surreptitiously try to adjust your bra as you clutch your microscopic purse with almost nothing in it.  You were going to walk to the club as it’s not super far, but in your high heels it hurts to walk at all and you are already late, so you get a cab.

Having paid your tenner for the ride, you arrive at the door of the club to find that there is a queue.  You and your friend get in the queue, trying to warm yourselves by huddling sexily together and rubbing your arms.  Goosebumps are totally not cool.  Your friend tries to call her friend who knows the bouncer, but he doesn’t pick up- the jerk.  Maybe your friend should have promised to give him a blowjob or something.

The line crawls and you are cold.  At one point, a guy dressed in black comes down the line to let in some ‘fit girls.’  He looks you and your friend over and you try to use that sexy pout you’ve practiced in your mirror.  He keeps on walking and your stomach crawls a little.  But, hey, your friend is now taking photos of you on her phone to put up on her Facebook wall, so you smile like crazy so your friends won’t know what just happened.

Finally you reach the bouncer and your names actually are on this list he has.  Score!  You and your friend pay your twelve quid to get in, and then get stamped on the hand and enter the VIP lounge on the left.  ‘This is like totally killer’, you say to you friend.  “No, this song isn’t Thriller!” she responds.  “It’s an Inadelle-remix.”  A what?

Or dancing the debke in Amman Jordan.  One of the two.

So close to dancing and drinking yourself silly!

The Adele remix blares out strong.  You and your friend look around.  You are in a dark room with roving lights and a bar and stuff!  Just like the last five clubs you’ve been to.  The remix gives way to some kind of techno beat with a dude rapping about ‘hos.’  You decide to get a drink.  Because you are in the VIP room now, the wait for drinks is a little shorter and you only have to shove your way through a crowd of about fifty sweaty drunk people as you make your way to the bar.  You order your screwdriver.  The music gets even louder as it continues to churn out techno house music mixes of the top 40 radio hits of the past year.

“What?” you ask as the bartender shouts the price.  Finally, he holds up eight fingers.  Eight?  You pay for your 7.95 pound drink and take a sip.  Kinda weak, but the orange juice is okay.  You grip the plastic cup tightly as your friend flirts with the way more attractive bartender next to yours. She always looks so good when you go clubbing, so confident… they all do, these beautiful and young and skinny people on the dance floor.  Well, you are glad to be with her, get time to really hang out with your friend.  Quality girl bonding time… where did she go?  Oh, there she is, gesturing for you to join her on the dance floor with her new male friend… wait, make that ‘friends’.

TwentySomethings picture from the clubbing scene

And you’re not really having that much fun anyway.

You don’t want to be uncool, and besides you do kinda like to dance, so you go onto the dance floor.  Well, it’s not quite a dance floor, more like a dance scrum, but you push your way into the center of the crowd where your friend shouts something into your ear.  You nod emphatically, and it must have been the right response, because she grins.  It’s really hot here, so you congratulate yourself on being smart and wearing next to nothing.  People bounce up and down, and you look around as you shake your arms.  You want to find a nice looking guy to dance with; after all, your friend is already grinding on a guy next to you.  Can’t get left behind… ooh, that’s a cute derriere….

You see a gross dude trying to edge his way into your circle.  He has a unibrow and is clearly a total loser.  Even though you don’t know him, you can just tell.  Cool people don’t wear jeans like that.  He tries to dance near you and catch your eye.  You move closer to your friend who is now making out with some bloke who looks a little like a weedier David Tennant.

"Now she was drinking alone, what a waste of sin."

Drinking sin, one liquid beverage at a time.

A man’s hand grabs your waist and pulls you closer.  His crotch jabs into your ass as he begins to grind with you.  You put your hands on his hands, and he steers you into rubbing into him in the right way.  At least the gross guy got the hint, right?  You dance until the DJ changes the song.  Turning around, you hope to see a guy with blue eyes like Daniel Craig’s with a physique to match.  Not so much.  Why do you always end up with the Peter Lorres of the world when everyone else seems to land Cary Grants?

You smile and try to extricate yourself from your disappointing Casanova.  He holds on like an aggressive limpet.  He is trying to tell you something, but you can’t hear him over the music.  Your friend notices your duress and elbows his chest.  He goes, but not before saying something undoubtedly derogatory.  You get another drink, double vodka shots this time.  Your friend even manages to get her dude to pay for it.  The three of you say a cheers to a great night out.  Finally your head is spinning, and the night gets a whole lot better now that you are wasted.

Over the course of the next hour you drink like three more drinks, and dance to the best music that Rihanna mixed with Michael Postner has to offer.  You get groped by at least seven guys, which just proves how totally hot you are tonight: usually you only get groped by about four guys an evening.  You bob up and down and fling your arms up over your head and secretly compare your dancing to that hot red head next to you.  That other blonde chick is wearing the same shirt as you.  You take a mental note that Top Shop is too popular to wear anymore to these kinds of events.  A dude offers you some Ecstasy for a really good price, and you are tempted, but decide to just ride your current buzz.  You smile anytime your friend thinks to take out her phone to take photos.  You think you have everything in your little clutched bag still, but might have lost your lipstick back in the toilet.  Your feet hurt.

The entertainment value is high, and it's for a good cause.

Why go clubbing when you could go to a gay pride parade?

It is now almost four in the morning, and you and your friend decide to call it a night.  The club is closing soon anyway and all the good looking guys have left with someone else already.  You don’t feel so good.  Your friend has already whined in your ear that she was never going to drink again.  It is so cold your tequila tinged breath exhales in a visible cloud, and its way late.  Because of this, and because you don’t like the look of that drunk on the corner, you get a cab home and your friend does the same.  Another ten pounds later, and you are back at your flat.  Your stomach pinches and your head pounds as you turn your key.  You’ve made it.  Just in time to throw-up quickly, drink some water, smear off half of your once sexy makeup, take off your modern day corset and collapse on the bed.

You don’t wake up until three in the afternoon the next day.  So much for going to the gym and meeting your friend from rugby for lunch.  And you did lose your favorite lipstick after all.

November, December 2011 541

A fruity drink from a Cabana boy will perk your night right up.

So, ladies and gentleman of the jury: is this depiction of clubbing off?  Or do we routinely spend far too much time and ridiculous sums of money to go out and buy overpriced watery drinks and bob together in a sweaty room, congratulating ourselves on how hot we look, how sexy and desirable we must be and how drunk we can get?  And then feel miserable and ill for hours to days afterwards, often not losing just the Saturday night but the Sunday day due to lying in bed and cursing our ‘cheap date’ status?

Who are these people who actually enjoy themselves while clubbing?  They must be magical creatures, the unicorns of the urban scene, and perhaps are just as mythical.

And yet clubbing remains the default weekend evening activity on most twentysomethings’ calendars.

A desire to go clubbing in the 1970s (when clubbing started to be a popular activity) was actually motivated by wanting to hear unusual music.  Clubbing was a counter-cultural movement, considered radical and anti-establishment.  Now, of course, it is anything but.  Maybe there exists the occasional gent or lady out there that genuinely cannot get enough of remixes of popular radio music, but many people prefer other types of beats rarely ever heard in the modern club environment.  And when a vast majority of people club (or at least pretend they do), it is hard to defend the notion that clubbing is counter-cultural and edgy like it used to be.

Yes, it does take five people to sing all the harmonies in 'Love the Way you Lie."

Karaoke at a party in Amman.

So why club at all?  It must have some appeal.  Maybe it is that people enjoy getting drunk, losing their usual inhibitions, feeling brave.  I am suspicious of any activity that one needs to be drunk to enjoy.  Maybe they secretly do love to dance, but fear the ridicule they project onto other who do dance.  Maybe some people get off on the petty unacknowledged competitions that occur in clubs.  You know, the ‘my-shoes-are-higher-than-your-shoes and I’m-more-important-than-you and I’m-a-better-dancer-and-looker-than-you’ type of comparisons that seem to thrive in most clubs.  Maybe it’s that people don’t know an easier way to hook up with other people, get that sexual validation we all sometimes need.

As one online wit put it, “Why girls go clubbing: for male attention and self validation.  Why girls think they go clubbing: ‘because I love dancing with my friends!’”

Or maybe people are simply afraid of being labeled as ‘sad’ or ‘antisocial’ or ‘weird.’   Clubbing is so main-stream that to not club can be seen as deviant, questionable or queer behavior.

So I will sound my barbaric yawp from the rooftops of the world: I don’t particularly enjoy clubbing.  I can’t see the appeal.  And I think it is perfectly normal to share this viewpoint.  For any other twentysomethings who agree with me, next Saturday I’ll be home by myself, singing Taylor Swift songs in my bedroom into my hairbrush.

Word, little kid.  Play on, bro.

Who needs clubbing when there is water to splash in?

Just kidding.  Game nights, apartment parties, playful arguments over sushi dinner, blues dancing, midnight quests for the best ice cream in London, ultimate frisbee on top of Primrose Hill and stand-up comedy awaits those willing to be brave.

You might even enjoy yourself in the process.

Any reasons I should reconsider my loathing of clubbing?  Comments explaining its joys and what I missed are welcome below.

5 Comments leave one →
  1. Anonymous permalink
    July 22, 2013 1:37 PM

    What troubles me about “clubbing” is where and who is going to be there, and will they be people who will be approximately at your level of development, knowledge, and interests? Are they people with whom you want to interact?

    • July 26, 2013 5:19 PM

      Plus the smell of beer when someone inevitably spills it on you is hard to get out without some serious washer action. 🙂

  2. BMW permalink
    August 3, 2013 11:35 AM

    It makes sense to go to a club where people are known to be at your social and educational level. It would also be helpful to have a friend who accompanies you on your first visit to that club.

  3. Chelsea permalink
    October 12, 2013 6:28 PM

    Well, the outfit choice, for me, would significantly lessen the experience. I never wear heels or short dresses/skirts when I want to go drinking/dancing. It seems counter-intuitive.

    Everybody goes for different reasons, I personally like to get drunk and dance. It’s a release for me. I never go with the intention of meeting someone, either. I just dance by myself, or with my friends, and keep dudes at a distance. They can be really creepy in places like that.

    Dionysus is a good patron. He wouldn’t steer you wrong, but society and its expectations might.

    • October 19, 2013 4:02 PM

      The last line is brilliant; society and its expectations, and how they become YOUR expectations, creates many of the issues with clubbing. If you keep in mind what it is, and what clubbing is not, then it is easier to have a good time of it, I suppose. 🙂 Thanks for commenting!

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