I Went Clubbing By Myself
I should preface this with: I am not someone who clubs. I am someone who daily frets about the finiteness of youth and the relentless passage of time. I am someone who wishes they went clubbing, but instead spends their evenings scrapbooking/reading/sniffing candles. I spend my nights wishing I was out, and then the moment I'm offered it, I recoil in horror under the blanket, clutching my bowl of slightly stale popcorn, eyes darting, chin wobbling, knowing that though I desperately want to say YES, I actually, really, want to say NO.
I live a painful existence in which I long to be Young Donna from Mamma Mia 2 (wild, crazy, carefree, fun-loving, out-all-night vibes) but am instead much more akin to Bilbo Baggins pre-adventure. The moment I'm invited out, I get a bit wistful about leaving the spot on my sofa. It will be so late and so loud... Don't I just need a "quiet one" tonight? What would I wear? What if I get too hot? Or too cold? Will I be meeting new people? I don't need to think about these things when I'm... you-know-where. Temperature regulation and social angst is is very manageable indeed, you-know-where (the sofa).
So, how did I find myself to be on the dancefloor in Camden, bobbing my little Edna Mode head in amongst a sea of anonymous souls? The answer contains just two words, my friends: Brass Bands. I bloody love them. I live, bleed, breathe, brass...(No, I don't actually, that sounded super weird), but I do really love brass brands. It all started on a hot summer's day in Cambridge. Nat and I were walking along, minding our own business, when a twang of brass carried on the breeze. Ears pricked, I followed the trail to find a beautiful, shiny, golden brass ensemble gathered outside the front of King's College.
About three things I was absolutely positive. First, 'New York New York' had never sounded better. Second, there was a part of me, and I didn't know how dominant that part may be, that thirsted for more brass. And third, I was unconditionally and irrevocably in love with brass band covers.*
*Still mad at myself for cutting off that end bit*
Brass bands covering well-loved songs are the actual physical embodiment of joy. That's a fact. Have you ever given them a good listen? You may have brass-yphilis (it's crippling) and not even know it yet. Listen to the brass band above. If you experience any of the following you are henceforth diagnosed: a quickening of the heart; an involuntary cheesy grin; an unexpected hum; toe taps; an impromptu urge to dance; an overwhelming feeling that suddenly all is right with the world.
For a year or so I thought brass bands were like little pots of gold you only stumbled across on special days; random brass bands performing on the side of the roads, in high street squares or parks. The idea that there could be brass band NIGHTS had never crossed my mind. So when, one fateful evening in 2019, I found myself in the Blues Kitchen Brixton and those familiar brassy tones began (but this time to Beyoncé) a new obsession was born. I hunted down brass band nights like nobody's business. I secretly queued covers on Spotify playlists at social gatherings. I sent fan mail to the New York Brass Band. I relentlessly harrassed my friends to join me at brassy gigs. And then Covid hit.
I had hoped that with a couple of years break, the brassy absence may have made my friends' hearts grow fonder. For over the end of 2019, I had come to learn the tragic truth that nobody loved brass bands as much as I did. I felt a bit like Will Smith in I AM LEGEND. (Because I am a legend but also because I felt alone in the world with my obsessive love of brass).
Alas, the common determination to avoid brass bands only intensified (and my two brass-loving/enduring buddies moved far, far away). So, it was not much of a surprise that after a change of plans meant I would still be in London for Easter Weekend, on the evening before Good Friday, when I found a last minute 'Brass Band Mardi Gras' (!!!!) in Camden... nobody wanted to go. In total, I think I messaged around 14 people. No takeups. It never really crossed my mind that I wouldn't go - I couldn't be missing a Mardi Gras Brass Band special so close to home! So, as the evening drew in, with only one non-committal 'maybe', I decided to go for it.
I clicked 'play' on my brass band playlist, applied my dream matte mousse foundation (tragic), endured an erratic outburst from Nat ("I CANNOT DEAL WITH THIS MUSIC"), poured myself an amaretto on ice (suave) and headed out at 10pm. I was buoyed with the knowledge that my extremely sexy friend had just gone clubbing alone in Berlin, so it was obviously the cool thing to do (though I know some would argue 'cool' and 'brass bands' are not conducive).
I thought I might feel nervous, and that everyone would be able to tell I was alone, but I only felt excited. When I applied my smokey eye (badly) earlier in the evening, I thought about how I'd roleplay a mysterious girl who dances alone, everyone wondering but nobody knowing who she is, or where she came from... Sadly, mystery and aloofness is not my thing, and I immediately bounded off my bus to excitedly tell the two men queuing that I just LOVE brass bands SO MUCH that even though nobody wanted to come with me I'M STILL HERE. They were nice and tried to buy my ticket (maybe I was a bit too friendly) and I slunk inside straight to the front.
Waiting for the band, I kept wondering when I would start to feel out of place, but I never did. When they began to play, everyone started dancing immediately and I realised that no one would notice, or care, that I was by myself. The great thing is - no one is there to judge, they're there because they want to dance and have fun, and generally that means being friendly and smiley to the strangers you don't know on the dancefloor. In no time, I'd made friends with Fiona, Claire and a bouncy Spanish guy called Alfred (possibly Alfonso), and we all danced together. On a giddy newfound-friendship high, I touched Fiona's cheek and told her she had exceedingly soft skin. I didn't see her again after that.
I heel-tapped and clicked my way over into another group and they invited me in, arms round each other's necks, singing the words at the top of their voices. I didn't care that we didn't know each other and neither did they; we just enjoyed the music. As we danced together I realised... This is fun! And easy! And I don't need to yell to anyone if I need the loo!
Later on in the night, my non-committal 'maybe' friend did actually show up and we had a blast, though right before he arrived I realised that even if he didn't come, I'd still be absolutely fine.
So, I did it - I survived a night out by myself and it served as an affirmation of how friendly and welcoming fellow boogiers are. I was so aware of feeling nervous or weird or lonely, but those feelings never came. It was just a fun night out, listening to the music that makes me happy.
If there's a night out / gig / anything that you're desperate to go to and no one wants to join you - take this as your sign to go for it. Don't hesitate! It's liberating and fun and you will have an amazing time (just don't stroke random people's faces).
When Nat said he didn't enjoy this I said he had a heart of stone
*I cut this one off too soon as well. If you want to hear that climatic chorus you'll have to go the next brass band event with me!
(Just kidding, I can go solo now) (but actually if you do fancy coming that would be nice)*
For anyone who cares (I'm aware there may be no one), a couple of my fave brass band numbers are:
- My Boo by Brass Tracks
- Always Be My Baby - Brass Tracks
- Wonderwall by Old Dirty Brasstards
*If you got this reference, I SALUTE YOU. If we're not best friends already, hit me up