Photo: Chris Bethell
After nearly two years of on and off closures, going to a nightclub still feels like a revelation – there’s a sweaty hedonism in the air that wasn’t around in the simpler times of 2019. But what to do if your pals aren’t as committed to hearing every beat drop within a 20 mile radius as you are? Before you write off the idea of going clubbing by yourself, take a moment to consider the benefits that a night out alone can bring: No getting dragged along to endless smoke breaks. No losing people in the queue. No drinks runs that send the cost of a night out spiralling out of control. And, crucially, the night ends when you want it to end – not when your friend gets booted out for doing lines off the toilet.
Take it from me, a seasoned solo clubber. My first night out was in Montpellier, France while I was on holiday with my dad. (He’s the most spectacular dancer I know, but our music tastes vary too widely to find common ground over a car playlist, let alone the French electro scene.) Questionable track transitions aside, dancing the night away in the company of strangers came with a freedom I’d never experienced when partying with mates. I’d never sacrifice the euphoria of sharing a dancefloor with my closest friends, but not having to tag along with a group meant I could enjoy every second of the night on my own terms. If that’s all starting to sound appealing to you, I asked other seasoned veterans for their best tips on how to go clubbing alone.
The tantalising possibility of a solo night out is you have no idea who you’ll meet. I probably spoke to over 20 people in my few hours out in Montpellier, but my favourite bit was the freedom to drift from group to group. Enjoy the company of your new pals, but remember the flexibility you have as a solo partygoer – if you fancy changing dance floors or are bored by the conversation, you barely need to provide an explanation for your sudden absence.Events manager Sean O’Connor, 29, has partied by himself since 2011. He found the experience of going to a club alone has pushed him to make connections with others. “I’m a very introverted person,” he explains, “and these experiences helped me to work on coping in social situations and overcoming anxiety when meeting new people.”
Make new friends - and ditch them when you want
Dan Funke, 20, has gone clubbing solo around four times, but for him, “partying by myself doesn’t mean partying alone”. You get the chance to meet new people and making friends is easier than you’d think: “Everyone is mostly nice and communicative and eventually a group will adopt you or you will meet someone to spend the evening with.”
I was in the tram a few hours before my night out when I spotted three people in heels and glitter-drenched beards. I told them about my solo plans, asked if they had any recommendations for places to go and they instantly invited me to join them for a drag show later. Pre-drink location: sorted.The lesson here is to fake your confidence. It may feel intimidating to approach a group of strangers, but in reality, so long as you’re not being pushy or sexually aggressive, most people will be flattered to be asked a question or told their outfit is cute.If you’re in need of an extra confidence boost, listen to your favourite high-energy playlist to hype yourself up on your journey to the venue. It’ll help you walk in like you own the place, even if you’re a bundle of nerves on the inside.
Fake it till you make it on your solo night out
My night-out shotta bag contains the usual essentials: gum, phone, bank cards, lip balm – and cash. Remember that bumming a cigarette off a stranger might go down okay, but if you need £20 for a taxi home because your phone’s run out of battery, you might have a harder time finding someone to help you out. Be self-reliant and bring everything you might need, including a phone on full charge. And if you’re on holiday, write down the address of your accommodation on paper, just in case your phone does die.
Fill your pockets if you’re clubbing alone
Yazan Saleh is a 22-year-old DJ who has gone clubbing by himself over 50 times. “You’re the pilot of your night and experience,” he enthuses of the experience. Yazan highly recommends planning your trip before you plunge into the great unknown: “Do a little research on the artist, lineup and venue so you become familiar with the atmosphere before going there.”Clubbing is so often seen as a communal experience that we miss out on the freedom and flexibility of following your own instincts. Yazan likens clubbing solo to visiting a city by yourself - for me, the experience is similar to going to a gallery, restaurant or workout class alone. In other words: think of clubbing as a hobby that you can enjoy on your own terms and you might be more inspired to give it a go.
Do your research and reframe your thinking
The first couple of hours of my solo night out, I struggled to settle in one place. Every spot I chose was infiltrated all too quickly by a man dancing way too close to me. Later on, I danced with a couple of people I’d been chatting to and felt like less of an obvious target – but the harassment was a good reminder of the importance of prioritising my safety.This advice was emphasised by every person I interviewed. “Especially if you are a femme or a trans person – I’m both – you should put your safety first,” Dan says. “Let your friends know where you are. Send them your live location. Watch your drink and don’t take any drugs from people you don’t know.”Sean reminds me of the UK’s scheme Ask for Angela: “If you can’t leave a person who you get bad vibes off of, or who makes you feel uncomfortable, then you can always ask for Angela at the bar or cloakroom.” The staff will understand this as a signal that you need help. Sadly, the dancefloor isn’t as safe as it should be, particularly for those of marginalised genders and identities, and going out without the back-up of friends might feel unnatural even at the best of times. But if you feel safe enough to party solo, the possibilities of the night are endless – so prepare as much as you can, then lean into the unknown. You might just have your best night out yet.@RiceKezia