The other night I went out to (belatedly) celebrate my birthday. And it was great! But it also made me think, as most things do. Unfortunately I do not have an ‘off’ switch for my brain even in the club. When something provokes me, I generally write down what I’m feeling (this time it was post-partying of course… whipping out a notebook in the middle of the dance-floor would be impractical after all), and I found a pattern emerging, with other issues I’ve been discussing with housemates and friends since being back at uni. So this post is a sort of conglomeration of those things.
I love to dance. I love to sing. I love to enjoy drinks and to chat and to laugh and to dress up in high heels. Insofar, I am just an average girl.
But although while in the club I just have a good time, afterwards there is always a sour note; a distinct feeling of discomfort that I can no longer ignore after the dancing is over and I go home wincing at the cramping in my feet. I never thought I’d actually tackle this topic- it’s a big one and it’s controversial, I suppose. But here are just some thoughts- make of them what you will.
Whilst it’s all innocent fun to many who are there, for many others this is not the case. When I really think about it (and again, I don’t like to think about it too much when I’m actually there), clubs are pretty desperate places. It seems that for some, partying is the only thing worth living for; for those moments of letting loose under the justification of alcohol, forgetting life’s pressures and worries for a few short hours. And, worse still, is the culture of going to a club to pick up a girl or guy for a night; where the dance-floor becomes, frankly, more like a mating ground. And I hate that there are still some guys who believe any girl is there for the taking, and if the girl is drunk enough, they’ll take advantage of her. And vice versa sometimes, of course. It’s really sad. Clubs are loud and crowded and there are flashing lights and lots of booze, but they can be so empty.
I’m not against clubbing in itself, but I know that whenever I go, I’m faced with this reality and it does sadden me.
This may seem like a digression, but I wonder if people let loose so completely in clubs because they feel it’s the only acceptable context in which to do so. I know we don’t live in the Victorian period anymore; we’re hardly a repressed society so it cannot be because we’re restricted by too many rules and regulations. I think it’s more subtle. I suggest- and I could be wrong- that maybe, a lack of openness is a factor. And I do think this is partly (not fully) a cultural issue. I can’t speak with much authority on any culture other than the one I have grown up in, so my comments will relate mainly to British society- but having German and Portuguese parents, and having spent a year abroad surrounded by several different cultures, I do feel like I have some points of comparison.
It definitely seems to be a thing in the UK to feel a constant need to not be an inconvenience to anybody. To be polite. Which is all very well, until politeness is simply perfunctory; ‘nice’ rather than compassionate, distantly pleasant as opposed to warm. I dislike the word ‘nice’ because it doesn’t really mean anything. It’s insipid.
Please don’t take offence at my comments. I know they are generalisations and that I also act this way frequently. But that doesn’t take away from the fact that this mentality of reserve, of self-consciousness and ‘not-wishing-to-bother-anyone’ can be damaging sometimes. How honest can you really be when you’re always worrying about whether or not the other person finds you an inconvenience? Which is a twisted way of thinking, really. How often do people feel comfortable enough with their friends to talk about real stuff? How much trust exists in a relationship when reserve creates barriers?
I’ve written about this issue before, which I suppose emphasises how much it bothers me. I was chatting with a friend the other day who’d spent a year in Madrid, and when we parted she joked ‘let’s be Spanish and hug’, and it was great because she ‘got it’.
Maybe some of you who know me in person this are surprised at reading this…maybe I seem pretty reserved, so in writing this I not only come across as critical but also hypocritical. I do find openness challenging- I’m writing this for myself too. But I’m getting better! There’s freedom is being real with people, for in admitting that you’re vulnerable, others feel they have permission to do the same. It’s a two way thing that when done right is pretty much what human relationships are meant for.
I wonder what it would be like if this openness was encouraged more in society; where feelings could be discussed without needing the context of intoxication. I recognise that the issue is complicated. There needs to be a level of trust in place, and boundaries need to be set when it comes to how much you give of yourself emotionally. So it’s not just a case of being completely candid with everybody you meet.
Anyhow, I do think it’s possible to set a trend. Openness is definitely a biblical principle- for what is brought out of darkness and exposed no longer has power over you. Openness is healing, just like with us and God. When we come to God as we are, He takes our broken pieces and sorts them out. Humans are also meant to support one another. Maybe as Christians, we have a responsibility to lead the way in this regard? Romans 12:2 says ‘do not conform to the pattern of this world’. We’re meant to be living to a different rhythm.
It seems unlikely that British reserve will ever truly change, but I do think things can be better.
There are obviously other factors in the whole clubbing culture that I haven’t covered; that would be a lot of ground to go over. I don’t pretend to have answers to all the points I’ve made but I hope I’ve given you some food for thought.
What do you think? Do you think lack of openness is a problem in the UK? Do you think there’s a link to club culture at all? Would love to hear your opinions.