It’s 11pm on a cold, wet, December evening, and my previously lively mood, is distorting rapidly into some horrible cacophony of frustration, boredom and multi-directional rage; we have arrived at the club.
Knowing the difficulties involved in entering one of these prestigious establishments, my friends and I have been well prepared and are in the privileged position of having our names on the guest list. Being part of this elite group allows us to bypass the slighter shorter queue which you stand in to be told you can’t come in this evening, and instead join the ‘special’ queue manned by two bouncers and a self-important, meretricious bimbo with a clipboard.
Usually physically attractive she tends to be sleeping with someone, otherwise unemployed, who is involved in promotion of that particular night. In return she is able to earn some money, but more importantly to her, she can indulge in the power trip of deciding (by some arbitrary standard) whether we are allowed in.
One universal standard given how glamorous these clubs are is that you wear appropriately smart shoes. I have no problem with this in principle, and understand the concept of appropriate footwear; standards must be maintained. However, when the floor is covered in an inch thick slurry of mud, faeces, chewing gum and booze, I would suggest that insisting customers wear smart shoes is a little inappropriate.
Anyway, having somehow reached her exacting standards, we are forced to wait until boredom becomes suitably intense so as to induce the lighting of a cigarette. Of course, just as when waiting for a bus, it is at this exact moment that one of the disagreeably hostile bouncers forces you to enter immediately, without finishing your cigarette, and pay a moron £20 for the privilege.
Having gone through this ordeal, one would hope to enter the kind of venue not dissimilar to a vision of heaven. Instead, one is confronted by horrible blaring music and a heaving mass of disagreeable, sweating troglodytes through which one needs to squeeze to join another absurd queue for egregiously priced drinks; they are of course watered down so as to deny any form of pleasure or essential anaesthetic qualities.
The rest of the evening is spent circuiting the club hoping to find the friends you have lost or possibly a passably attractive member of the opposite sex. There is some ritual shouting at people in attempted conversation, popping out for a cigarette to escape the awful place for a couple of minutes, and going straight back to the bar for more medication on the basis that your previous drink was confiscated when you went for the cigarette. This formula is repeated until closing time or until you have lost the will to live, which ever is sooner.
It astonishes me that any service-based industry can provide such a low quality product, treat its customers like shit, charge them a fortune for the pleasure, and still have them coming back time and time again. Restaurants and bars in London have improved immeasurably over the years because the competition is so intense. You can go to an incredibly good bar or restaurant, with a fantastic atmosphere, serving unbelievably creative, perfectly executed food or drink, all with impeccable service, and you probably wouldn’t spend as much as you would in a club.
Given the competition, the bad businesses die at the expense of the good ones and the overall quality of the industry improves. Somehow, while this has happened to restaurants and bars, the night club seems to be immune from this process of evolution.
The only thing that a club has that a bar doesn’t is loud music and a dance floor, so perhaps the clubs that survive are those that play the best music and offer the best dancing experience. This is clearly true of some places, admittedly not those that I frequent or have any interest in going to, but it can’t be true of the average club where the music is terrible and everyone is so crammed in that it is virtually impossible dance anyway.
I suspect the real reason for the success of awful clubs is that being ghastly actually makes the place more profitable. Think about it…you go to a restaurant to enjoy good food, a bar to enjoy good drink, a club to….perhaps dance, perhaps meet people – these are not really things the club can charge for, and most people are already quite drunk by the time they get there.
Given that the only thing a club really makes money on is booze, the ones that survive are the ones that will make their punters most inclined to drink even more, or alternatively pay the most to drink. As a nightclub owner your options are to make the place so exclusive and popular that you can charge a fortune for the drinks, or to make it so horrifying that the customers are forced to drink to make the place in any way tolerable.
Human-beings did not evolve in an environment of massive crowds, darkness and, incredibly loud noise; as a result most people are not naturally comfortable in a club. Drinking eases this problem, until you eventually reach the stage where you can actually have fun. The louder, darker and more crowded the place is, odds are the more you need to drink, and the more money the club makes. The fact that most people have to reach such a stage of inebriation that they could have fun doing literally anything does not make the club fun in itself.
Given that alcohol is associated with fun, misbehaving and a higher than usual probability of snogging a random punter, the fact that clubs open late means most customers are usually tanked up on arrival and primed to do something exceptionally stupid. By running a very selective entrance policy, and allowing in only superficially attractive girls, the club can induce a testosterone fuelled cock measuring competition which usually results in an article in the Metro about how a trader from Essex spent £120,000 on a bottle of Krug.
I have no doubt that very soon I will be found blind drunk in some horrible over priced dive with shit all over shoes spraying a bottle of champagne over some girls tits, but it doesn’t mean that I want to. Night clubs are awful and there’s nothing we can do about it.
by Marquez Johnson