It goes without saying that drug and club culture are intimately entwined. The pleasure found in little white pills that've been smuggled into big, dark rooms is inexorable. One begets the other.
Except it doesn't have to be like that at all. No one's there in your living room forcing you to suck gin and squash out of a traffic cone. No one's making you buy that sixth pitcher in Wetherspoons. And no one's marching you to the cash point to dice with the beeping horror of insufficient funds in order to stuff a sweaty cachet of notes into the window of a car on a back street. Honestly, no one's making you do these things. One of adulthood's biggest moments - alongside learning that dishwater maintenance isn't optional and that going to bed at 11pm is quite nice - is the realisation that one can go clubbing sober.
The thought of standing in a detoxified state in a room stuffed with sweaty bodies and jaws scraping along Coke-soaked floors may be as appealing as going caravanning with Christopher Biggins and Anne Widdecome but, for some, it's a weekly reality. For the rest of you, we've put together some essential tips for sober-survival.
BECOME MATES WITH A DJ
Given that most DJs are surrounded by mountains and lakes of narcotics, this might seem like odd advice for anyone wanting to shield themselves from drugs and alcohol. But bear with us. Being friendly with a DJ means you'll probably be able to squeeze into the booth with Steve or Ben or Jack or whoever. View the booth as a sanctuary, an oasis of calm, a site of contemplation and reflection. You can hide away from the swaying hordes of vested-up halfwits stumbling round the dancefloor, clutching onto a three quid bottle of Evian. You can avoid the shutter-shade douche-nuggets. You will feel like their crystal-clear overlord. And most of all, there's probably a spare socket to charge your phone, too.
TAKE UP SMOKING
Not gonna lie. Smoking isn't much more than an unattractive and life-threatening way to hack thirty quid into the gutter every weekend. But in your new-found search for welcome reprieves from the horrors of gurning grapplers and would be-new-best-mates, the fag is your friend. Find a spot under a heated lamp, spend a good half an hour assembling 10/10 rollies, have a long hard think about what you're doing to your body, light another, avoid saucer-sized eye contact with anyone currently finding the act of walking difficult, practice your best pensive-gaze at your phone and hope that when your mates eventually jostle their way through the limp-legged masses onto the ashy decking that you go unnoticed. You can always hear the thump of a kick from out here, and let's be honest, you don't hear much more inside anyway. Your fingers may resemble Bart Simpson's by the time you drag yourself onto the nightbus, and every breath feels like one step closer to having a perpetually-wrecked ribcage, but you've been so busy chuffing on increasingly ratty cigs that you won't have had the time to drink or dabble anyway.
Having said that, I turned up to a DJ Sprinkles set totally sober once, spent an hour sat on a stool at the side of the decks with a wax jacket on, zipped up to the eyeballs before someone mistook me for a dealer, told me his mate fancied me, took me to meet her in the smoking area and got stuck sat next to her for four hours as she talked about a recent holiday to Poland that included a trip to Auschwitz. Be vigilant out there, one-night-only smokers.
SOAK UP THE MUSIC, MAAAAN
This is what you're here for, right? Not the escape from the innate shitness of life, not to end up having a limply curtailed attempt at a one night stand, not to forget yourself and evaporate into something bigger than yourself, - you want something beyond the confines of the self, right? That's the spirit. You're there to stand stock-still listening to six hours of house music that pretty much all sounds the same, except sometimes the vocal tells you to 'jack the box' instead of asking you to 'jack the groove.' Get nice and close to the speakers and make sure you tell the person next to you that this track - a track that seems to have got an entire room of strangers heaving as one in a kind of orgiastic state of pure pleasure triggered by a few perfectly placed piano chords - is the superior remix of the one most DJs have rinsed out. They'll show you how much they appreciate your finely honed ear by barging into you and shouting about HOW FUCKING BUZZING IT IS IN HERE MATE YOU SEEN THIS GUY BEFORE HE'S PURE QUALITY FUCKINGHELL YOU SELLING ANY MATE NAH NO SORRY JUST ASKIN MATE ALL LOVE HERE.
DANCE LIKE YOU'VE NEVER DANCED BEFORE
Physical movement is a tricky one. I mean, you literally go to a club to listen to something that is literally called 'dance music' so I guess you've got to do what the name says and y'know, dance. Except, as I've noted before dancing is for show offs and total spanners and is a total waste of energy. However, anyone who turns up at a club stone cold sober is one of three things: obsessed with the DJ; a poor soul dragged to some shithole in Hackney for the birthday of someone they don't really like; the kind of deeply troubled weirdo who doesn't need a drop of Jager or the suggestion of a sniff to start throwing out shapes like David Brent at a Bok Bok show. But who cares? The only person embarrassed of you is you. Sure you've got to carry that shame inside you like a stone in the pit of your stomach all week, but what the hell. Rave on!!111!1
PLAY A CHARACTER
As the sober on of your gang, chances are you're going to be left out of the torrent of shit that passes for conversation after eight pints and a bump or six, so you've got to be prepared for a lot of coat holding and spot-minding as people vanish for increasingly lengthy fag and piss breaks. The minutes feel like hours. Every transition in the mix is like watching continental tectonic shifts in real time. You start searching the crowd, bug-eyed and desperate, for the shadows that might, might be your mates, knowing that even when they do return you're nothing more to them than the bloke who's got enough nous about him to book an Uber at the end of the night. So fuck them. Fuck your friends. This is about you now and the best way to master yourself is to pretend to be someone else.
When someone in the toilets manages to uncontort their face for long enough to spew some nonsense about GOOD FUCKING VIBES IN HERE TONIGHT MATE at you, tell them you're Jeremy Clarkson's nephew, tell them you once saved Richard Hammond's life, tell them you've been camping with James May once and that, actually, he's a bloody nice bloke actually. Do anything but be yourself. In these situations, being yourself is as about as much fun as Paul Danan has being himself on a daily basis.