Most of us have a pretty good grounding of what not to do in clubs: don't get in people's way, don't step on feet, don't leave the cubicle door unlocked, don't puke by a smoking area bin, don't request "One Dance," don't pull ironic gun fingers at every single song and expect your mates to laugh every single time, don't eat on the dancefloor, don't nick a box worth of cigs, don't lose your wallet, keys, passport, and phone, only to realize ten panic-stricken minutes later that you'd left them in the cloakroom, don't then lose your cloakroom ticket, don't plead for the immediate release of your belongings, don't threaten to call the police when you're momentarily denied said belongings, and definitely, definitely, don't end the night weeping hysterically next to a bus stop that's about to send you 37 stops in the wrong direction.
Hell, as we're reminded by smug misanthropes on a semi-regular basis, is other people. And those other people tend to congregate in clubs, trapped in a selfish bubble that sees them flouting every term of the social contract with reckless abandon. These are the stinking, elbowing, stock-still, too-chatty miscreants who can turn a perfect night out into an evening of unadulterated misery.
Worst of all—worse than suffering these behaviours—is discovering you are actually responsible for them once you've had a few pints. So how do you avoid becoming one of Dante's clubbers? Well, this guide is intended to help. These are the seven deadly sins of clubbing, the habits that can and must be avoided. Keep this checklist in mind and finally become the perfect clubber you were born to be.
And anyone found committing one or more of them will be banished to an eternal Jamie Jones and Friends party in the Tower of London!
1. Smoking Yourself Hoarse
I get it, I get it: the Stella's working its way around your body at a rate of knots and whatever dubious botch-job of chemical compounds you hastily ingested in a Wetherspoon's toilet are now coursing through you, and the club's a bit sweaty, and you suddenly feel quite dizzy and you've really, really got to tell someone something very, very important and the best place to do that is under a space heater, between a drug dealer and a bloke on a lot of ketamine, with one fag stuffed between your cracked lips, and another crumpling in your clammy hand—but do we actually have to go for another cigarette? I can feel my lungs blackening as we speak and I'm convinced that I'm spewing off the kind of noxious fumes that could send send a professional wrestler to sleep in seconds, all while you tell me about what Sophie from work said to Dan from work about Elena from work.
Have a smoke, have a few smokes, but please, for the sake of both your lungs and your friendships, try and limit them to alternate hours. As enjoyable as a good hit of burning tobacco can be, not all of us planned our entire evening around watching you roll the most dismally dog-eared ciggies this side of the Titanic's engine room.
2. Singing Along
If you can think of anyone worse in this world than someone trying to sing along in a club to a song they don't actually know the words too, then please keep it to yourself because I've had a rough few months and don't think I could take the pain. I don't care what exactly it is you don't know—it could be "In Da Club," "Le Freak," or "I Gotta Big Dick"—because the result is the same regardless: total and utter social revulsion. You look like James Corden.
3. Never Shutting Up
Yes it is really annoying that your so-called best mate didn't invite you to that really cheap Chinese place in Camberwell last weekend and I know you always make sure you invite him to everything because that's what good friends like you do, because it's basic politeness, yes I know, I agree, and yes I remember how you went out of your way to bring him a Mars Bar and a copy of Empire when he had to spend the night in hospital after hurting his knee playing football, and no totally, you're right, he should have just sent you a quick text because that's all it takes, just a quick text to say sorry, I know and I think I remember you telling me he got you a copy of Noddy Holder's autobiography for a secret santa present and you got him an Aeropress coffee thing, and I totally get what you mean about his new girlfriend, I'd noticed that too mate, but, mate, I'm trying to watch Palms Trax or Call Super or whoever has been DJing for the past hour.
The occasional wide-eyed tap on the shoulder followed by a squawked "FUCKIN' HELL MATE, BELTER," is about as much direct communication as you want on the dancefloor. Just think, in a few hours time we could all be sitting in someone's lounge listening to the xx at deafening volume and having that chat about John Harris' latest foray into the legitimate concerns of Leave voters in Solihull. Just think, also: that's still to come, so maybe right now you could stitch your lips together and hold in those fascinating thoughts for a bit.
4. Drinking the Bar Dry
Not sure if you've heard about them mate, but there are these things called pubs—thousands and thousands of them—and in these "pubs" you can buy pints of lager, glasses of wine, and thimbles of spirits without queuing for days. They're pretty good, actually, pubs. I'd recommend going to the pub if you find yourself spending most of the time in whatever grubby-floored hovel in Dalston you're calling a nightclub sucking on bottles of room temperature lager with a slice of lime sticking out of it, running back to the bar every fifteen fucking minutes for four solid hours. If you're lucky, said pub will have a bloke in a flat cap playing shit Balearic music at needlessly loud volume too. Win win!
5. Dancing Too Much
In your head you're the perfect blend of Rudolf Nureyev, Jay Kay, and an extra in Breakin' 2: Electric Boogaloo. In reality you're closer to David Brent or Prince William. It isn't your enthusiasm that tips you into the "PLEASE STOP, PLEASE, STOP, PLEASE STOP," territory, because lord knows the pallid husk of club culture could do with a bit more of that, but more the flailing elbows, misplaced knees, and complete lack of spatial awareness.
After an hour or two spent next to Disco Stu, you'll likely be covered in bruises, blood, and the unquenchable thirst for physical freedom. Suddenly the smoking area looks like the exact place you'll want for respite. Sure you'll come back shaking and stinking but maybe the Pepé Le Pew vibes you're giving off will create the necessary zone of physical freedom you need to actually enjoy yourself.
6. Not Dancing at All
The only thing worse than a whirling dancefloor dervish is the kind of person who steadfastly refuses to move a muscle but doesn't want to donate their space to a more willing participant. They stand there, these stiff-shouldered fun-suckers, radiating a glowering glow, practically daring anyone in their immediate vicinity to enjoy themselves. They will tut, they will sigh, they will get their phone out and roll their eyes—anything but directly communicate their displeasure with your spatial encroachment.
The state of not-dancing—as well as being inherently anti-social, aloof, and, well, self-defeating—is nearly impossible to cajole someone out of. Any attempt to tickle them into humiliation will be met with flush-faced stony-silence, and you'll be left with a mate who resembles a red-faced statue, little more than an effigy of shame.
All you've really done, despite your best intentions, is created a now completely immovable object and you've not only fucked it for yourself, but you've fucked it for everyone around you too. The moral? Don't try and change someone. Or just leave the curmudgeonly sod at home in the first place. They'd probably rather be there anyway.
Now, I've been in the same club as you countless times now. I've watched how you move, how you operate, how you always manage to fumble the change out of your pocket creating an easily-avoidable commotion at the bar which incurs several spilled drinks and the immediate attention of the overzealous security staff.
I've also noticed your tendency to cling pretty tightly to the DJ booth. You spend hours there, nuding closer and closer, always starting by the side playing it cool, biding your time, until BAM, there you are, clumsily attempting to shake the DJ's hand, clasped in some sort of mutated high-five. In that moment, your face seems to suggest, you are crawling towards an infinitely expanding nirvana, a place of unceasing peace and contentment.
The DJ's face suggests otherwise, leaning more towards a curt and prompt "Can you fuck off a tiny bit mate, I'm trying to work here and all I can see is your sweaty little hands and your looming idiot grin. And no, you can't have an ID on that one," but nothing will deter you. When the bomb hits and we all perish, our melted skulls feasted on by cockroaches, you'll still be there, your skeleton gripping on the booth at Oval Space. Never letting go. Ever.