Can you tell? University work has definitely kicked in, and I’m airing my opinions and limited experiences less and less (primarily because at the moment, most of them consist of sitting on my bed and working through readings on my laptop).
NONETHELESS, when a friend has a birthday, it is time to celebrate, and our friend Gabi had one wish: dance the night away. So off we went.
The night started in a ‘British-style pub’, the 16 Tons. We were, admittedly and openly, going to be the biggest critics of the place, having all spent at least a year frequenting a variety of pubs, from upscale gastro-pubs to the grimy ever-loved Wetherspoon chain. As far as a place that assimilates a different culture abroad can be, this ‘pub’ hit the brief. It had the wooden interior, the green carpet, the random memorabilia on the walls. It had the somewhat unappealing toilets, big tables and small booths, and menu that boasted a selection of beers and wines, local and from the UK. And there were nibbles great and small- some British, others more inspired by other cultural heritages.
There were only two shortcomings in fact- the too-clean smell (in this case it was more like a restaurant or fancy pub), and the lack of cider. WHAT!? I hear some of my favourite Brits exclaim: you call it a pub when it has no cider?? Yes, it is. It’s close enough. I mean, you can even find a cricket bat in the place. And they brew their own beer, which is very drinkable. I can tell you that from experience.
After a few pints, a few vodka shots, some delicious fried bread and a few red chilli peppers, along with some silly pictures with a plastic crown, we headed on, loosing much of our group on the way.
So there were six of us that actually decided to go dancing, although this proved more difficult than anticipated. We were turned away at the first place, argued with them for a while, argued for a while more with a Russian man who came out for a smoke trying to help get us in, then gave up. One of the bouncers didn’t like the look of us, apparently.
We walked down the street. The next club also refused to let us in. Why? we asked, starting to take it personally. The bouncers amiably explained that there was no point, there was no one inside. It was a Tuesday night- and this isn’t a university town where there are student nights in most clubs scattered about the centre. Accepting that argument, we followed their advice and headed to the club that was right above it: a gay bar. Here, business was booming, with four visitors apart from us.
This emptiness had its distinct advantages. There was a special where the third drink came free, floor was empty and ready to be danced on, and we could be as loud or calm as we liked without disturbing anyone. So we danced, solitary figures in a bar with a disco ball and flashing, rainbow coloured lights and loud American pop.
Deciding that we would like some more company to dance with, we left the club at around 3 (I think) and found ourselves a ‘taxi’. This taxi was actually a lone man trying to make some more money on the side- a man who immediately took a liking to us, and joined in on Devon’s Russian chatter. This taxi took us to another club which closed its doors to us, and told us to go to the bar next door. Three minutes in there told us that we didn’t want to stay- all of the rejects collected there, and the atmosphere was not the dancing mania we had imagined.
Another taxi ride later, again with our former taxi driver, we ended up further in the city, in a club titled ‘Crazy Daisy’ on the recommendation of said driver. This is when I began to question his taste, and his character a bit. Unusually, we were admitted. The first moment should have been a warning- an unknown Russian ‘gentleman’ decided to dance so close to us that it would have been faster to head-butt him than to reach up and slap him, and failed to react to our attempts at showing and telling him to piss off.
Within a few minutes of surveying the rest of the club, the mixture of young people dancing, women wearing what can only be described as jean-thongs rather than jeans-shorts, dancing around a pole on the bar or lap-dancing a rather stereotypical, unattractive fat man wearing entirely black, and shisha smoking men surveying the scene, it was clear that I needed to turn off my critical eye if I was going to have a good time. Which I mostly managed to do. I will save my rant about female participation in subjecting other women to sexualisation and the male gaze for another time.
We danced until the club closed at 6 in the morning, forming a small circle and enjoying the music, making jokes, and marvelling at the place we found ourselves in. At 6 we left in a rush (the bouncers made it very clear we were no longer welcome), and took the taxi home- getting lost on the way, and getting home about an hour later, happy, a bit dazed, and trying desperately to appear casual when we ran into people getting up for the day… only to sleep for a few hours before heading back to lectures.