The Greatest Wildlife Show on Earth

A few days ago some friends and I visited our mate at Cambridge. We had a fun night, which culminated in a visit to a club. Now, I’m not someone who would be described, by myself or others, as someone who goes clubbing. As such, rather than immersing myself in the apparent enjoyment, I decided to look around and think about what a truly odd concept clubs, and the act of frequenting them, are.

I’ve only visited the one club, and so cannot generalise about all clubs, due to this, my observations are based solely on this venue. As we entered the place, I was struck by an overpowering sense of how little I belonged there. We were out on a Saturday night, when all the ‘townies’ were out (I was technically also one) and these made up the majority of the club’s clientele. This is a place where people come with the intention of dancing, often rather provocatively, and drinking, often excessively. I rarely go anywhere with either of these intentions, and thus I did not quite fit the typical clubber’s mould.

I found the club’s décor to be really quite strange. The darkness is mandatory for clubs, I realise that, and most will look pretty similar, with random slabs of neon on the walls and/or floor, and a dimly lit bar where customers shout their orders to staff who I can’t imagine particularly enjoy their work. In an odd way I hope all bartenders in clubs like that give poor service. It just feels like a shred of honesty in a place detached from real life. Since we visited vaguely near the king of non-celebrations – Hallowe’en – there were appropriate decorations. These did consist almost exclusively of slightly fluffy-looking fake cobwebs however, not frightening, not suitably comedic for the environment. A half-hearted attempt at a topical ambience.

Then there are the lights. The lack of normal ones, and the unwarranted number of strobe lights, making people’s awkward dance moves look like something out of a disturbing flick-book. Meanwhile the bright coloured lights flashing off the half-disco ball hanging from the ceiling furthered the chance of fits. To escape the lights and pulsatingly bassy ‘music’ you could retreat to the terrace, the part of the club where you could be cold and engage in loud, simplistic conversation while others stumble around you, beautifully advertising the more elegant effects of alcohol.

There was no respite from the peculiarity of it all when focusing on the people rather than the decoration either. As far as I could gather, it mostly consisted of groups of people who’d come together standing around each other with their feet superglued to the floor, being intermittently shocked with electricity, causing a flailing, pulsing movement, seen in this environment as dancing. Others ambled around, waving glowsticks, blowing pointless plastic trumpets or holding drinks in the air in lieu of any more extravagant movement. Some just seemed to enjoy wriggling their way through the mass of bodies, shoving whomever they were obstructed by, making the most of this place where social norms have gone through the looking glass. One guy even invaded the ring of students and attempted to encourage me to dance, a feat equal to convincing Richard Dawkins to do yoga in a church.

It’s fair to say that clubbing isn’t really my thing, but it’s a great social observation. David Attenborough should do a documentary about it in the nature documentary style. From an outsider’s point of view, it could be a fascinating study of human behaviour.

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About Mark Dolan

Hello there, I'm Mark, a 21 year old English archaeology student. I write about various things; archaeology, musings on my life, and various bits of society that I have something to say about.

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