I’ve been to a club three times in my life and always as a reluctant participant. I see clubs as a perverse combination of the Men Without Hat’s video, “Safety Dance,” and a documentary of Jane Goodall and her chimps. You see where I’m going with this.
There’s a friend who organizes us gal mom-types out for a monthly outing. This typically means drinks at her house, followed by dancing at a local Beaches or Leslieville restaurant that pushes tables to the side at 11 p.m.
It’s fun. But I’m busy. Besides, my best friends are books. Maybe cheese.
Months after my last outing and declining multiple invitations, I received the texts; “pleeeeaaz come. I miss you,” followed by, “I’ll keep texting badly-spelled messages if u refuse.” I accepted.
Only at the last moment did I discover we weren’t meeting in Leslieville. We were meeting at a club in the entertainment district.
My first clubbing experience was years ago and saw me almost breaking a guy’s arm for grabbing my arse. My second, last year, involved me throwing spitballs at the size-zero woman who hip-checked me on the dance floor. Clubs invoke a ‘do-or-die’ instinct in me.
My current survival plan involved wearing my ultimate, all-situation clothing—black. The ninja look goes with dark spaces. It gives me the edge.
Repetitive bass reverberated out onto the icy sidewalk. My friend arrived with her husband and another couple. So not, in fact, girls’ night.
This was when I suddenly became aware that I forgot to leave my oversized bag at work.
The velvet rope was pulled away and I spent $20 to get stamped and then entered the hallowed room of sweat, sex and noise. But not the good kind.
The club looked like it barfed a Hawksley Workman video. Everything lovely of the Muskokas meets the bear-infested junkheap of the Muskokas, meets a pubescent Cliffs Notes-summary of Lord of the Flies. Wrapped in hip-hop. I think it was hip-hop. Three drunken bridal showers were well underway.
There is a magical, veiled realm of club-conversation to which I am permanently barred. My “WHAAAT?” always disappeared into the noisy ether.
My gal friends left to get a drink. My bag and I awkwardly danced with the other woman’s husband before he did me the great service of dancing away, as if it were part of a move.
I headed past the Muskoka-chairs filled with couples doing things to one another that exemplifies a pornographic version of the last day of camp. But not the good kind.
I found reprise in the ladies room where it was slightly less loud. A canoe had been taxidermied, condemned forever as a sink and entombed with a stainless steel lid. Drunken, five-inch-heeled girls washed their hands for way less than the 20-second rule. Water poured from brass fittings and a rubber handle.
I hid there for 10 minutes watching girls take bathroom selfies before my friend texted me, “Where are you?”
“I’m at the bar,” I answered.
I checked my way through the drunken crowd and heaved my bag on the counter, bumping two guys and a stack of glasses that crashed to the floor. That also got me priority service, so I’m keeping the move. I ordered a gin soda because I saw one and I couldn’t think for myself.
Clubs are like casinos, except while casinos are all oxygen and noise, clubs suck out the oxygen and add black ice.
I met with my group. I danced. I found brief reprieve in the washroom. This was my cycle for the next hour before I knew I could leave, having done my social duty.
“SITTER,” I hollered as an excuse.
My friend nodded. She knew my daughters were not home tonight.
I’m an unrepentant non-clubber. I’ve made three goes of it through the years and, while it’s different clothing and different music, it’s always the same crowd. It’s just not something that completes me.
I got my coat and left. The district is gorgeous at night until you step in vomit.
This story was first published in The Ryersonian on Wednesday, April 1, 2015.