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Friday, October 12, 2007

Club Life

This Life column from Day and Night magazine from today's Irish Independent

Like many people, I haven't spent an entire night out in town or in a club ever since that Centra TV advert dictated a few years back that "staying in was the new going out". Of course, what that catchy phrase really implied was "go out all you want, but not before stocking up on our high quality but cost friendly plonk, getting nicely toasted insomeone's house before inevitably stumbling your way into town after midnight to do your bit for our apparently whimpering Tiger economy by making some much-needed investments in social capital". And being easily prone to advertising, that's exactly what I've done ever since.

However, a fortnight ago there were a handful of birthdays within my consigliere so we decided to break with our weekly tradition of having a tipple at home first and spend a whole night out in a club to celebrate. Our group arrived in town uncharacteristically sober at the ungodly hour of 8pm on the Saturday night and by 10pm, we were tottering off to our club of choice.

I hadn't been in a club that early in a long time, but it didn't take long to become reacquainted with the rituals and patterns of the nightclub experience. For your edification and mine, I've compartmentalised the night into distinct time segments (kind of like an episode of 24) that I think covers just about any club experience in its entirety:

The PG-13 Phase (10pm-12am). It's early in the night so most of the arriving revellers around you are clear, upright, coherent, even classy. It's all pretty dignified. You're loosening up, you're chatty and witty. Your focus is on your friends. There's that one nutter upon a stage on the dancefloor, bopping away on his lonesome in his own crazy little world. But, as midnight approaches, and the glasses pileup around you, the atmosphere changes, ushering in…

The Witching Hour (12am – 2am). The focus shifts more and more to mating rituals. The group fractures as friends wander off for little stalks, or pair off to form pulling tag teams. The dance floor gets progressively busier and suddenly that sole crazy dancer is a hero amongst men. Speech, though less coherent, is bubbling over as you hold forth on some topic and marvel at how these brilliant, philosophical points and arguments keep spilling from your mouth. Shot glasses appear. You alternate between dancing, shouting in friends ears, infiltrating the smoking area and marking your territory around an object of your affection, until your watch points out that it's now approaching…

Desperate O'Clock (2am - ?). All bets are off. The dance floor isjammed as everyone's inner Shakira breaks out and we all collectively flap about like a bunch of epileptic seals. Those who have scored already are slinking away, leaving the rest of us to dart our eyes around and throw our most seductive – for want of a better word –looks around. The music stops. People boo. Bouncers arrive on thefloor like stormtroopers and manhandle you out onto the streets. The smart people decide to go home, but the rest lurk around outside, refusing to admit the night's over waiting for friends, scouring for parties,. Before you know it, it's 4am and you're perched on a windowsill on Dame Street with pizza that materialised from somewhere with your new best friend with whom you bonded in a queue somewhere…

And this is where it always gets a little blurry, but you all can insert your own ending at will. As for me, while it was fun doing an epic, old-school club night, I was back to my Centra-fied social existence the following weekend. My bank account was clubbed to debt by that night out, and I'd forgotten that that lightweight gets crippling hangovers.

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