One reaches a certain age where the thought of a wild night out on the town, crowded bars and long queues for packed and sweaty nightclubs slowly begins to lose its appeal. Over the years we certainly had our fair share of such nights, but then one day you start to see the advantages of a nice quiet, non-crowded living room. No dress code, no queues for drinks or bathroom, very cheap booze and you can be in bed at the end of the evening in seconds rather than endure the awful slog home via night buses or trains.
Sometimes though you need to ask yourself if your Saturdays have become a little too predictable. When the highlight of your weekend is a few drinks, popcorn and a good movie on Netflix, you do begin to wonder if you’re just getting old and boring. Where is the zest, pep and pizazz you once had? That lust for life that Iggy Pop sang of so stirringly? Has it turned into a lust for loafing?
Hell is other people.” ~ Jean-Paul Sartre
Being an introvert at heart, this has always been a little complicated. One’s need for human contact has to be balanced with the desire to avoid large gatherings of other people at all costs. I’d often found myself alone on a Friday night in my younger days, yearning for company and a good night out, but too withdrawn to really take the plunge and cultivate a more active social life. When I met my significant other, it was fortunate we had a similar love of dancing and socialising, balanced with a strong desire to share time alone.
I’ve often found that it’s chance encounters with other people that can reignite one’s interest and enthusiasm for pushing yourself outside the ‘comfort zone’. Certainly my partner’s enthusiasm for dancing and making merry at raves, music gigs and festivals helped me to face my discomfort of crowds and have some serious fun. That and the large quantities of alcohol imbibed on the way there. Friends too played their part, including Simon the cyclist (Wassup?!) and a wonderful and much-missed guy named Mark, a warm, funny and lovable person whose life ended tragically early. I think he could have persuaded a bronze statue to shake a leg.
This past Saturday a new friend sparked my enthusiasm once more (muito obrigado Thais!). Like a snail on speed, once I’m on the dance floor there’s no stopping me. I’m like a cross between John Travolta and the energizer bunny. Although sadly my dancing is rather more like the latter. Still what I lack in grace and technique, I make up for with a certain drunken enthusiasm (apologies to anyone whose toes were brutalised that evening).
There’s a club if you’d like to go
you could meet somebody who really loves you
so you go, and you stand on your own
and you leave on your own
and you go home, and you cry
and you want to die”
The Smiths – How soon is now?
I suppose being in a nightclub full of people half one’s age could be depressing. But then I do have the advantage that I am no longer part of the hopeful singles crowd, desperate to make a good impression and avoid the fate of Morrissey’s lonely club-goer. I can have some laughs, drink a little too much, fall on my arse and leave without a care. Of course that’s a big fib. One never really loses the concern with what others are thinking. The vain self-absorption and delusion that you were actually impressing anyone with your ‘killer moves’ and masterful ability to recover after slipping on an ice cube and accidentally throwing your drink over a tattooed, seven foot tall biker. Of course we forget that nobody is paying much attention to us in these moments, because they are all thinking about themselves, or ogling some gal/guy with Hollywood looks who really was killing it on the dance floor.
You’re so vain, I’ll bet you think this song is about you, don’t you?”
So sang Carly Simon back in 1972. And she had a point. When it comes to human vanity, there are few limits. I guess we’d all like to be a smooth operator, cool, sophisticated and the star of the show. Somebody who is not concerned with zits, bad breath or the need to pass wind after a dangerous festive dinner. But in the very wide chasm between the ideal us and the real version, we make the best of it. We try to have some fun, keep our Joie de vivre going somehow and do our best to avoid spilling drinks over gigantic bikers while we set the dance-floor ablaze.
So to all you reluctant dance-floor divas, don’t let time and habit keep you from a lustful celebration of life. Dance like nobody’s watching, get your groove on and if you are going out over the Christmas period a useful tip: don’t overdo the Brussels sprouts (or in our case the Rødkål) beforehand. Trust me on this one.
Text and picture © copyright Jason Lennick 2016. All rights reserved.