Friday 26 February 2016

in defence of the night: chaos, celebration and cheesy chips

in this post, just over seven months ago now, i resolved to change the frequency of which i consumed alcohol and the amount in which i consumed. needless to say, i failed spectacularly. the majority of my nights out still end with earth-shatteringly bad hangovers the next day and the occasional dodgy take away that i'm forced to see again the next morning (or afternoon, as that's generally when i unwind myself from my duvet and crawl into the shower), hunched rather ungraciously over the toilet bowl. 

this is the harsh reality of the-morning-after-the-night-before, yet once the hangover has passed, two litres of tesco's finest apple juice and several tonnes of junk food later, i have no problems getting back out there the next week and repeating the process all over again. this vice article perfectly chronicles every painful aspect of a hangover in ways i could never even dream of articulating. 

so why do i, and so many others, put myself through this week after week, month after month, year after year? why do we drink more when we know we'll feel the after-effects the next day? there's probably some scientific explanation for that, but i'm not interested in facts. like with most things, i'm all about the feeling. 

there is one kind of feeling in particular that is exclusive to nights out, and that is what i want to focus on. an internet friend of mine once described getting ready to go out as a "religious experience", and she isn't wrong. for me it's that excitement of putting on my make-up, experimenting with my look to create something i know nobody else will be wearing out on the dance floor; i have now become synonymous with my love of glitter amongst my friends. the aspect of transformation that comes with putting on my make-up for a night out is something i look forward to every single time. there's surely a whole debate to be had about women and make-up and how it makes us feel, but i'm not here to talk about that. 

i'm here to talk about that feeling of endless possibility, of potential. this could be the night that i fall in love, or find a new favourite song, or drink, or just have one of those moments where time stops and the only thing that matters is being in the place you love with the people you love most. it doesn't matter if none of the above things happen, because there'll always be the next week, and the one after that, and so on. that's what makes the hangover a tad more bearable, knowing that once the pounding headache passes i get to go out and do it all over again. 

the inspiration for this post came from a(nother) vice article in which kev kharas also expresses his love of a good (or bad) night out and why "the night" - for it is an entire concept within itself - should be protected at all costs. this quote, for me, sums it up pretty well:

"the night: music i fall in love with inevitably sounds like it. all my happiest and worst memories were born in it: my biggest strokes of luck and gravest mistakes, epiphanic dawnings of art, resolve and self-disgust, first and last kisses. the list of things that could never have existed without the night includes but is not limited to the following acronyms: the KLF, the IRA, the ECL, AFI, XTC, NARC, PCP, PMA, PKD, PDA, STD, CBT, ZMA, AWOL and MPS in the sky. some of those things are good, some of them aren't, but then that's what the night is for. it doesn't give you things you wanted, it gives you things you didn't ask for, things you never even knew you wanted. the night is chaos – or at least it's meant to be."

but clearly, others don't feel the same way, and by others, i'm talking about the government, who seem hell-bent on prohibiting people in this country from having any kind of fun. the rate at which nightclubs and other venues around the country are closing is alarmingly fast, and some of them, including legendary gay pub, the joiner's arms, provided a safe space for those who needed it, and still do, for decades. drug raids, budget cuts and of course, gentrification all have their part to play in this, but if venues keep on closing at such a rate, it could be ten, maybe even five years, before we see all our beloved venues razed to the ground. 

recently there have been all kinds of statistics about how students are supposedly going out less. it first started with claims that students were simply opting to drink at home rather than pay to get into, and subsequently buy drinks at, a club. fair enough if you live in the south; £7.00 for a double vodka and coke is just absurd. but then this week some new statistics emerged and were helpfully reported on in this vice article (last one, i promise). apparently, students are drinking less alcohol and more coffee and another poll supposedly revealed that only 37% of students consider the pub an "essential" service. ONS statistics found that the number of 16 to 24-year-olds who drink had fallen two-thirds between 2005 and 2014.

sure i might not drink coffee myself, but i see my friends and fellow classmates go through copious amounts to stay awake in lectures, seminars, and all the long, long hours of our own time we are now spending working on our group magazine project. there was very little warning; i was coasting along just fine, writing the odd piece of work, then i came back after christmas and suddenly we were bombarded with an entire group project, a work placement to find and a 2,500 word essay to write. one of our tutors offered us some friendly reassurance and advice when he told us to "stop fucking about" and actually do some work. so yes, the pressure might be on, but who says we can't go out and have fun at the same time? 

the thought of life without our beloved bars and clubs - we only have two or three in the town where i'm studying, so we have to make the best of it - doesn't even bear thinking about. it's where we go to let off steam, to celebrate, or commiserate, depending on our results. it's also reassuringly familiar, a place where nothing much changes, and when you're so far away from home, somewhere like that becomes essential as everything you know and love seems so far away. it just makes me question how accurate these statistics are; i can't think of a single person i know, friend or otherwise, attending university who doesn't love a night out, sometimes two or three in one week. why should we have to choose between going out and having fun, and putting the hard work in to succeed in our studies? i seem to be managing just fine, having somehow achieved two As in my projects last term. 

the fees may have risen, but this is still the one chance we get to go out and have fun before we graduate and this thing called "real life" supposedly begins. forgive me if i'm wrong, but isn't "real life" all about making bad decisions and learning from them? it sounds incredibly cheesy but i wouldn't be the person i am now if i hadn't done some of the stupid things i did whilst intoxicated. and so, to uphold my defence of the night, i present a selection of my favourite songs that i play over and over, each and every time i get ready to go out. 

1. beyoncé: flawless

basically anything by beyoncé will do when it comes to your Getting Ready To Go Out playlist, but flawless makes me feel just that. i'm not sure why but whenever beyoncé comes on while i'm out, something just happens to me. it's like for those three minutes, i am beyoncé, not in the sense of being a multi-millionare or being married to a world famous rapper, but possessing that incredible self-confidence of hers, and it feels like i can be anything, or anyone, while her words blast through the speakers. 

2. carly rae jepsen: run away with me

of course i had to include this song, as it is the greatest example of the potential and possibility which the night commands. it's also a really fucking good song to dance to, and i wish more clubs would wake the fuck up to how good carly rae jepsen truly is and put this song in their playlists. it was played in a bar when i was out at home just before christmas, and i fear that my life may have peaked at that moment. it felt as if i was actually in this music video, me and my best friend belting out the words while everyone around us watched on, a bewildered look on their faces. that is what the night was made for. when the verge reviewed the excellence that is jepsen's sophomore release, E•MO•TION, they described it as "perfect narrative free pop music", along with this quote which perfectly sums it up:

"pop music is made to be shared. a massive hit single is a common experience in itself, but it often succeeds because it speaks to an existing common experience: big, eternal human struggles like love, loneliness, and of course, Getting Ready to Go Out."

(kiss-era carly rae jepsen is also horrendously overlooked and this album contains some excellent party songs. try this kiss, hurts so good and curiosity.)

3. the human league - don't you want me 

again, anything remotely 80s-sounding will suffice - my favourite compilation is the nation's favourite 80s number ones, which can be found on spotify - but this song is perfect for getting everybody dancing because it's just so bloody recognisable. some of my favourite memories include being in a room of sweaty bodies and seeing the looks of pure, unadulterated glee on their faces when this song comes on. then, the build up to the chorus, everybody turning to the person closest to them and bellowing the lyrics "don't you want me, baby?" in their face. (it's also a great cathartic release for all those feelings towards an unrequited crush.)

4. shalamar - a night to remember

i have my parents to blame (or thank) for my love of disco music; a genre that none of my friends seem to understand. there's so many other songs i could have included from this genre - try anything by chic (of course), earth, wind and fire, and luther vandross - but this one always brings back fond memories of home. the clue's in the name; it's all about getting people up on their feet and this song certainly does, whether it's a room full of people at a club's motown night or my mum when she's had a glass or two of red. 

5. one direction - kiss you

i am a strong believer that early-era one direction is some of the best pop music ever made, and this is a song i find myself playing before every night out as i like my party songs to double up as a karaoke session. forget nondescript dance music that i find myself awkwardly shuffling along to; i want something i can really belt out, and this song is just the job. (one of my favourite - and finest - moments is kissing somebody in a club while this song was playing.)

6. whitney houston - i wanna dance with somebody

naturally i saved the best until last. this is probably, most definitely my most favourite party song of all time ever. whenever it is played i will, without fail, lose my shit every time. whatever i'm doing gets abandoned and i'm straight onto the dance floor, whether i'm in the toilets or queuing at the bar. this is everything a pop song should be. it has it all, from not one, but two breakdowns and a spectacular key change that just takes the song to a whole other level. 

and so, your honour, that concludes my defence of the night and why it should be protected at all costs. as long as the clubs stay open, you'll find me there, drink in hand, glitter on my face, belting out the words to my favourite songs that never seem to get old, creating memories that i may or may not remember the next day. 

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