Be it dancing to Euro-pop music or chatting with friends in smoking areas, nothing beats a night on the town
WORDS BY DINO BONACIC
I still remember my first night out. I was about four or five, spending the summer holidays with my family on an island in Croatia. The hotel we were staying at had an outdoor dance floor, and before they opened it up for the adults at 8 pm, they allowed the kids to dance to Eurodance classics. I remember swaying my hips and doing the bee’s knees to Mr President’s Coco Jamboo, in a navy twinset worn with a pair of matching canvas sandals. I was in bed by 9.30 pm but I was hooked, even before I could understand what it all meant.
In its modern form, clubbing was born out of the disco movement in the 70s, yet clubs have existed since the 19th century with New York City being the mecca. If you were a Victorian, social gatherings consisted of substances, questionable behaviour and live entertainment – from gambling and consuming unlicensed alcohol to prostitution. In short - they were wild. But when I think of what the joy of clubbing means to me, I think of all the iconic imagery of music legends falling out of NYC discotheques like CBGB, Palladium or Copacabana. I think of Bianca Jagger in Studio 54 on a horse (please note: she did not ride the horse into the club, it was there waiting for her as a photo op). Seeing this imagery made me dream of all the ways I could make my nightlife this exciting. Was I ever going to have this much fun?
Moving to London in 2014 changed my perspective and opened my eyes to all the clubbing possibilities. I was in a city where Leigh Bowery made his impact as the promoter and host of Taboo, dressed in the most outrageous, colourful creations which resembled abstract sculptures more than actual garments. This also allowed me to experience the queer side of club culture – sweating, kissing and lots of Madonna. For the first time, I saw people actually dressing up for nights out – and I’m not talking about jeans and a pretty top. Glitter, sequins and colourful make-up – lots of it. It was like everyone wanted to be their own outrageous version of legendary 80s royal party girl Gloria von Thurn und Taxis, her hair coiffed for the gods, neck dripping in jewels.
"THiS IS THe PART OF ThE GOinG oUT PROCEss THAT I mISSED THE MOST IN THE PanDEMIC – EMErGING oUT OF ONe’S OWN hOME AND InTO ThE EvENiNG."
But nothing can compare to the euphoria of the transformational journey as you leave your day self behind and metamorphose into a version that is ready to take on the world. This feeling is perhaps best captured in the film 13 going on 30 when child-cum-adult Jenna Marbles puts on blue eyeshadow and sticky pink lip gloss before slipping into a stripy Versace cut-out frock. Whitney Houston’s I Wanna Dance With Somebody is blasting in the background. The only thing missing in my view is a glass of something strong that will get you in the mood for doing the Thriller choreo (if you know, you know). This is the part of the going out process that I missed the most in the pandemic – emerging out of one’s own home and into the evening.
My favourite night out always have the perfect combination of the right crowd, venue, music and drinks. For example, certain friends make ideal clubbing partners. Easy going, not going to get in a fight with someone in the smoking area, there for you if you get too wasted and won’t dump you for a date before midnight (but will be totally judgement-free if you do so). There are also the perfect clubbing drinks – something light and hydrating like a vodka-soda-lime that won’t leave a stain on your new dress even if someone knocks it over.
But as I grow older, one thing will always make me feel like I’ve just had the best time ever. Walking out of the venue as the sun is beginning to come out. There’s something magical about that sunrise – perhaps it’s still that 5-year old dance monster who had to go to sleep at 9.30 pm that is now finally living out his fantasy of a raver. Ya-ya-ya coco jambo, ya-ya yeah...