For obvious reasons, celebrating milestones hasn’t been great this year.
Picture the feeling: you wake up on your 18th birthday, but nightclubs, bars and pubs are closed. Instead, you head over to the corner shop with your provisional driving licence (provisional because your test got postponed, again). You pick up a bottle of vodka and pack of Marlboro Golds, even though you don’t smoke – but the cashier doesn’t even ID you.
With nightclubs open again from last Monday, many 18 and 19 year-olds all headed to the club for their very first time, meaning the usual rite of passage (AKA heading to a rubbish club after overdoing it at pre’s) had been made possible, for hundreds of thousands, all at the exact same time.
Anticipating carnage, I headed to nightclub queues in Bristol to see if newly-made adults give a shit about clubbing still, or if a year of enforced isolation has killed the buzz.
VICE: Is this your first night out?
Alex: Yeah first time clubbing – out properly. I never really got into it because of COVID. But yeah, I’m out with all my mates. It’s going to be a massive night.
Did you not try to sneak into a nightclub?
No. I didn’t have a fake ID, you know? But I’m out now, that’s what matters. My birthday in lockdown was shit – we had a little gathering and that’s not the same. Tonight I’m making up for it.
How are you feeling about tonight?
Ahhh man, I’m pumped. I know there are technically no restrictions and that, but when I came, I thought there would be like 30 people. But seeing the queue now, there are hundreds. I’m not nervous about COVID. We’ve all tested and got our COVID passports.
VICE: Have you been out before?
Grace: Yeah, a couple of pubs, but never clubs. I would just get mates to buy me drinks.
The first adrenaline rush when the bouncer checks your ID and you know you’re allowed to be there is great.
Yeah, exactly! It’s actually so exciting. I can’t even believe I’m here, really.
Is your first night out living up to expectation?
Yeah. Well, it’s still early days, but so far I love it. There’s way more people here than I thought there would be. It’s so weird to go from having to queue one metre apart at a checkout, to being thrown in a sweaty pit together.
Does that make you nervous?
It doesn’t feel quite right, does it? Don’t get me wrong, I’m having a great time. But it seems so sudden. It’s totally zero to 100.
Best case scenario, how does your night pan out?
Much dancing, and definitely meeting new people. I haven’t really had a chance to do that because of COVID. I’ve just finished sixth form too, so tonight is a fat celebration of that.
VICE: First big night out – how are you feeling?
Mutale: It’s actually been a sick night. I was at Revs – it’s been a really nice experience. I wasn’t expecting this at all. I think part of me didn’t really think this would ever happen. It’s been really nice to get out after being stuck inside for so long.
How did it feel turning 18 with the rest of the world in lockdown?
I was allowed to go to the pub, but it wasn’t the same. Honestly, getting your ID checked and stuff, it’s such a thrill because it’s your ID, you know? It’s a relief knowing I don’t have to stress about my ID anymore.
What’s the plan from here? Afters?
Oh no. I promised my parents that I would be back at a decent time and I don’t want my mum to be annoyed. But yeah – tonight has properly exceeded expectations.
VICE: Have you been out before?
Emily: Yeah we’ve been out. But not, like, massive, like this is.
Living up to expectations so far?
We’ve only really just got out the Uber, but that Uber was absolutely great.
Did you go to anything during lockdown?
No, I was a good girl during lockdown, protecting the NHS and saving lives and stuff.
Are you bothered about nights out still?
I’ve waited this long. I’m not really that fussed now, but going out has to be done.
Alright. Can I ask – how was your lockdown?
Mash: Fucking sad, actually, I’ve had two lockdown birthdays now. I couldn’t have anyone over, so it was just my family. Not ideal at all. I really didn’t do anything before I was 18. I didn’t go to the pub or anything, so tonight is huge.
How does reality compare to the dream?
This is wayyyyy better.
Fuck yeah. They said “garden party” on the event ad – I thought it would be like 50 people, there must be like, over 700 people here. It’s crazy.
Pippa, 19 (left)
VICE: How are you feeling about “Freedom Day”?
Pippa: I’m feeling… [random girl walks over and interrupts]
Random girl: Mate – I don’t know you, but I fucking love your outfit.
Pippa: Thanks so much, you have incredible boobs. What the fuck. Are they real?
Random Girl: Yes, I’m blessed. Thanks so much – you’ve made my night [random girl walks into the distance].
Pippa: [laughs] Yeah, anyway – is it fuck my first proper night out? I’ve had a fake ID since I was 15, so this really isn’t anything new.
Do you feel concerned about heading to a club during COVID?
I am worried with COVID and stuff. I’m mostly worried about that new variant. But at the end of the day, it’s not going to stop me from going out. I’m here with all my mates, who I absolutely love. This night has serious potential.