According to that great bastion of information, Wikipedia, Clubbing is ‘a culture of visiting and gathering socially at nightclubs’, and according to several pieces in the online news world this week, Clubbing as we know it is on the decline, rapidly.
After I read my second article about this, I have to confess I felt quite sad that this once amazing pastime is coming to an end and socialising for future generations will look very different. The articles talked about young people being put off by the high price of a night out at a club, taxis into town, having to make the trek out when it was comfortable for them staying at home, and more bars are opening late at night.
The articles referred to these young people as ‘millennials’ – a generation of people apparently from the ages of 18-35. I’m at the top of that range but I don’t class myself as a Millennial. I’ve always clung on to the fact that in some definitions of generational groups, 1981 was at the end of Generation X and so I can legitimately claim to be a member of the X Generation. Of course, other X-ers may want to throw me off the bus for hitchhiking but I feel more affiliation with them than with the young people who form today’s social media savvy, Instagram and selfie loving youth.
So for the purposes of this piece, I’m not a Millennial and I am a member of Gen X.
The articles about nightclubbing surveyed people in the younger age range about their views on clubbing and reading their responses made me realise we have moved from a clubbing culture that was ingrained in our psyche, to something people see as a bit of an inconvenience really. Growing up as a teen in the nineties, you had a clear social path to follow if you chose. Once you were old enough (read – nearly eighteen) to try to get into pubs underage and look older, you started at local public houses. Admittedly this was easier for us gals as we looked older than our spotty boy friends, and, admittedly we had to prove only that we looked eighteen and not twenty five.
So our first step on the social pathway, unless you count house parties, was the pub on a Friday night. This was the highlight of the week. After a week of college, slaving away, we all got dropped off by the local taxi firm – Mum and Dad Taxis – and we strode in confidently. Actually it was more of a timid entrance, deciding between us who was going to the bar first, to make us look as confident and legal as possible. And then we would buy rounds and rounds of identical alcopops, drink until we felt ill, and then call our parents and take our taxis home. If we were lucky, we might attract attention of boys we liked but mostly we just stared at them. Friday nights. Fab.
Once we had mastered pubs and were close to or had achieved eighteen status, we moved on to the second step on the social pathway. The Big Night Out In Town.
The Big Night Out In Town could be a Friday or a Saturday. We got dressed up in short skirts, weird satin tops with our bras showing through, massive heels, horrendously over the top eye make up, lip stick, lip liner, and copious amounts of hairspray. The works. First we visited the pub, then we made the bus journey into town – the journey itself was part of our night and very exciting with all of the anticipation – and finally, after more pubs in town we graduated to the nightclub.
In the future, when future people look back at us past people, the dance halls and tea dances we learnt about will be a distant memory. They will see a generation of people dancing strangely to music that seems to make no sense, often has no words, and to the unfamiliar would just sound like ‘noise’. They might wonder why it appealed to us, what we saw in it, why we would get hammered on shots and then jump around a room with lots of other sweaty people for three hours on a Saturday night.
But for us, it was everything. It was our weekend. It was amazing music. It was amazing atmospheres. It was amazing dancing. It was letting your hair down. It was having fun with your mates. It was forgetting your world and escaping. It was getting dressed up. It was getting drunk. It was feeling free. It was meeting new boyfriends and girlfriends.
It was everything.
So I feel sad that the new generation don’t get that. They don’t have that, and clubs are closing down now to make way for the new ways of socialising.
I suppose they’re not sad for what they haven’t loved. They don’t miss it because it isn’t an important part of their social worlds. It is nostalgia for us X-ers. And when we are all old and living in our futuristic retirement villages we will be able to reenact our youth, tapping our feet to Sonique and Todd Terry and looking knowingly at each other as we remember something special and unique to us.