Sunday, June 15, 2008

On Clubbing

There isn't always safety in numbers because you could be stuck with a lousy set of numbers. As I've realized recently, one can be surrounded by people and still feel alone. Among the places where a person can feel this sort of isolation (a waiting room, a classroom on the first day of school, a subway car), a nightclub heightens it like no other place.

Thus, I don't like clubbing or even going 'out' to dance. I don't believe I ever have.

There have been moments where I've enjoyed it— most memorably, an evening out with close friends when I went to Atlanta sushi-bar-turned-night-club Aiko, where I was wearing was wearing sky-high stilettos for the very first time. Earlier in the spring, I found myself at a popular Boston club non-elegantly called the Liquor Store. I dressed to emulate Audrey Hepburn— it's not important why– in a black shift dress, pumps, and a black wide-brimmed hat. Several college-aged boys walked by me and lifted the brim of the hat to get a better look at me, which I found most vexing. A once-over was all they wanted.

Environments that aren't conducive to conversation don't make sense to me. For this reason, I end up feeling intensely alone in a club, because I'm enveloped by people that don't invite communication. Simultaneously, I’m unable to talk to my own friends. It’s like being under the sea and breathing silently, talking and drawing in water instead.

I find it unsettling to dance in clubs. Club dancing, like courting, is a mating ritual. If the dancing doesn't involve hip-hop (where it's more about self-expression), then you're left feeling very self-aware of your body's weight and motion. Any other kind of dancing (choreographed or not) is about so much more than a "come hither." If I'm going to be dancing, I desire structure and rhythm (as I unconsciously desire it in poetry), which is probably why I loved ballroom when I had lessons in college.

To me, any non-choreographed dancing is the most fun and fulfilling when it's simply about one's reactions to music with a good bass-line, a certain tempo, and occurs amongst people who don't care if you can't 'carry a tune' with your body. Think dormitory parties celebrating birthdays, All Hollow Eves, New Year's, and themed parties. I was around a lot of people (some I knew and some I didn't) and never felt alone. Parties at our own apartment enabled my friend & I to pull capers like sneaking in “West End Girls” by the Pet Shop Boys, regardless of the theme or music.*

In these settings, it doesn't even matter if the music isn't even good for dancing. The party itself isn't always the most anticipated part of the evening. What I've always enjoyed most about the process is the lead-up-- getting dressed, going over to a friends’ places, chatting, having a little bit to eat and drink, the drive over, and perhaps mostly, Waffle House afterward (this is a Southern thing). Or more recently, the few minutes I shared with a friend while sitting on a bench at the Boylston T-stop waiting for a friend of his to arrive. We had a chat filled with non-sequiturs as usual, and I was at ease.

Clubbing is banal, freestyle dancing isn't always enjoyable. Could you concur? Can you see what I see in this observation?

Century Fille's own YiQi C. has noted that when someone like me makes this kind of realization, a waiting audience sees nothing but logic and sense in it. In contrast, when she make such claims --and then proceeds to say that 90 percent of what social people find fun (like amusement parks and mini-golfing) she finds completely not fun— she is cast as the brooding gothic even though she’s not decked out in emo gear. She says it must have to do with the differing vibes we give off. She is perceived as a party pooper, whereas I appear the wise one who has stumbled upon the truth that bumping & grinding on a dance floor (for the sake of being seen and not to spend time with friends per se) isn't fun. I say it has to do with my higher tolerance for and adaptability to sub-optimal environments. However, this also comes with my lower ability for discerning the sub-optimal situation in the first place.

It's not only that I do not like clubbing, I find it a colossal waste of my time. I'd rather be out for drinks and dinner. Or just dinner. Or coffee. Or at a quieter lounge. Or shopping. Or at home with a good book or an academic journal. Not to suggest I can't be enticed out to an 80s night every now and then— it’s just very unfortunate during my last opportunity to do so, I decided to take a nap before going out, watched some of the mind-blowing Battlestar Galactica mid-season finale, fell asleep during it, and then managed to somehow make it through Doctor Who to catch up again with my favorite colonials & cylons at the midnight hour.**

* No matter how loud you turn up the volume on this song, it is impossible to dance to.
**I’m an Anglophile, sensitive to British humor, and I don’t get Doctor Who.

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