You've made it. You're here. Sat in a tiny, dingy room that you'll eventually try and brighten up with a La Haine poster and a Sainsbury's succulent before succumbing to apathy and a perpetual hangover, letting it fester with dirty bowls and dirtier underwear. Sat, alone, so terribly, terribly alone, for the first timer ever, really, in your entirely life. Entirely alone. Mum and dad have sped back down the motorway. Your brother's stopped texting you. It's just you. Sat there. Surrounded by the reading you haven't done yet and probably won't ever do. Sat there with a pile of toiletries and a family photo, a photo you'll stuff into a drawer out of embarrassment but will come back to time and time again when no one else is around.
At some point, on that first afternoon of freshers' week, you'll need to venture into a communal space. It'll likely — unless mummy and daddy are very well to do and you've moved into one of those 400 quid a week student palaces that unscrupulous university chiefs rent space in just to fuck over the student's who applied for accommodation slightly later than their peers — be a kitchen. Right now it's a nice, white, clean kitchen, a kitchen overflowing with fresh-out-the-box cookware and cutlery. There'll be mountains of tea towels and enough oven gloves to deck out the entire Chinese army. There will, crucially, also be other people in there. These are people you are going to have to live with until July. They'll burn fish fingers at 4am. They'll bring home Australians from hostels for low quality bouts of shagging at 5am. They'll be found in the kitchen, alone, with a bottle of basic's red table wine and a freshly shaven head at 6am. You will learn to tolerate them in a week, and hate them in a fortnight. Seven years on they'll be a set of people you can use when you write about freshers week to illustrate that you were a fresher once too.
Anyway, having made it into the kitchen, having added to the communal pile of cookware and cutlery, you'll begin to talk to Morgan and Siobhan, Tom and Lizzie, Polish Mike and Laura. You'll try and find common ground. You'll fail but you'll still hammer away at it. You'll be made to feel simultaneously older and younger than the rest of them. You'll switch between inferiority and superiority complexes with gay abandon. This is your life now.
Somewhere in this life that you're now inextricably entwined in, you will meet someone who likes dance music. You might think you like dance music — you quite like the new Disclosure, think Julio Bashmore's 'alright' and you downloaded a Ministry of Sound compilation that you thought might sound wicked for pre-drinking sessions on dismal Tuesday nights in November — but this guy or girl, well, they really like dance music and they want you to know all about it. You'll, oddly, despite yourself, long to be this guy, or girl's mate. You'll want to go to underground clubs and Croatian festivals with them. You'll want to spend Sundays in an after-after-party daze with them, glugging Lucozade and necking pro plus and thinking about the reading you haven't done. We want you to be able to do that too. We want you to have the freshers week we never had. Here's how you can.
JUST KEEP NODDING
"Thing about the Trilogy Tapes is, right, is that they just put out fucking great stuff but they don't go overboard. You heard that Rezzett tape? Fucking crucial."
"Yeah. It's good."
"That Barnt EP was fucking amazing too. Heard that one?"
"Yeah. It's good."
"Man, Barnt's been on a roll hasn't he? Fucking smashing it. I never thought he could top "Hark" but fuck man, the His Name EP is just fucking pure wizardry. Heard it?'"
"Yeah. It's good."
Do that to everything the Cool Dance Guy You Met at the SU says and you'll be fine. Absorb his or her taste through osmosis and then pass it off as your own. No one will ever see through it. This is the secret no one will tell you: being 'properly' into dance music is all about looking like you're on top of things when, deep down, you'd actually rather be listening to "Cheerleader".
RESEARCH RESEARCH RESEARCH!
I know you should be balls deep in Roland Barthes but there's more important things in life than the death of the fucking author. A good degree's probably a useful thing to have but that's three years off. Right now you need mates and you need them fast. You need mates who know how to get drugs and how to talk to girls. So put down Beginning Theory ASAP and get deep into Discogs.
Learn the names of a few labels or producers or DJs to name check in any given situation. Skim Wikipedia to make sure you know the difference between deep house, tech-house, and deep-tech. Combine that rudimentary knowledge with the nodding method outlined above and you'll find yourself watching some terrible DJ next Friday at 1am trying to convince yourself that you're having the best time ever and that pills really are fucking amazing man and not just a really quick way to feel like you're going to have an anxiety-induced heart attack on the bus home.
GET SOME NEW T-SHIRTS
All you'll really learn at university is that wearing the right clothes is the most essential part of having a relatively enjoyable life. Seriously, dress right and you'll make tonnes of friends and go to tonnes of parties and you'll hate them all and everyone else there too will but you'll all pretend to get along because you've all got an Ostgut Ton tote bag and a crippling fear of being found out as the snivelling little fraud you are.
PLAY THE YOUTUBE GAME WITH CAUTION
It's a big moment: your new mate, the club king, has invited you back to his place after a session in the pub. He doesn't live in halls, obviously, so you're walking down unfamiliar sidestreets late at night, your mouth awash with the increasingly familiar taste of fags and lager. It feels like you're going back for something...special. This is it. You're inside. He takes you upstairs. You're both sat on the bed, so close that you can't help but touch. It feels electric. You don't know how to compose yourself and the room starts to spin slightly. You're flushed and hot. Your skin's tingling. It's happening. It's happening to me, right now, you tell yourself. He leans over, coyly. "Your turn, mate," he says, smiling at you. You smile back. This is it. It's happening to me, right now.
Fast forward five minutes and you're both sat there, white with shame. He coughs and mumbles something about going to the bathroom. He gets up and it's just you sat there wondering how it all went so quickly. Was it wrong? Did I mess it up? I didn't you had to do things before you did that and I didn't know that that did that if you did that to it. You've fucked it. You've put on a tropical house mix that comes with a photo of a bikini-clad bum. You've fucked it.
SPUNK YOUR CASH ON VINYL
Vinyl is really cool, honestly, and not a total waste of space and money, so make sure you blow the entirety of your loan on Basic Channel 12"s that you play on a shitty turntable from Argos through USB speakers. Instant respect.
ABANDON THE SU
Right, obviously don't fuck off the SU on the first night you get to university, but don't rely on it as a primary social space. Student union clubnights are universally terrible. They exist in a kind of warphole of irony and perpetuate the idea that students are just children who've been let loose in the supermarket. How are you going to look like you're deep into Drexciya in front of the guy in your Russian Literature seminar when he's seen you — though he'll never admit it — down the front of Pop Party or Club Sandwich or Glamourpuss losing your fucking shit to "Barbie Girl" and "I Want You Back"?
Most towns or cities will have at least one semi-decent clubnight running somewhere. Hunt it down. Head down. Have a drink. Cry in the toilets. Text your mum. Dream about home. Tell everyone how great it was the day after and how sick it's going to be when one of Gang Fatale heads down in early December to play a two hour set.
LEARN HOW TO DJ OR AT LEAST MAKE FRIENDS WITH SOMEONE WHO TALKS ABOUT DJING A LOT BUT DOESN'T SEEM TO ACTUALLY EVER DJ EVER WHICH IS WEIRD GIVEN HOW MUCH HE TALKS ABOUT DJING OUT, STILL THOUGH HE'S GOT VIRTUAL DJ AND YOUR LAPTOP DIED AND YOU'VE ALREADY BLASTED THROUGH THE BULK OF YOUR LOAN SO YOU MIGHT AS WELL BE HIS PAL
DJing is the most overrated thing in the world after sex, skydiving and I dunno, sailing? Unfortunately your new life is pretty much rooted entirely around the fuckers so it makes sense to suck any ill will towards them down like a shot of sambucca from the SU you're only now going to on those special nights when the whole kitchen's heading down for a "mad one" — there was a Facebook event for it and everything . Being a DJ's mate means free entry to clubs, the odd free beer, and the absolute respect of everyone you walk past in the library the day after you made awkward eye contact with them from behind the booth at the new future garage revival night your pal's just started.
Better still, if you really want to impress the dude who permanently smells like a potent blend of smoking area pot pourri and Dixy Chicken grease and looks like they've never taken that 1080p longsleeve off let alone washed it, you've got to master DJing. This takes up a lot of time and costs a lot of money so it's a good thing that you never planned on working properly after you graduated with a 2.2 in Creative Writing from a university that hovers around the 65th best mark.
DON'T WORRY ABOUT IT
Honestly, most of the people you'll come across in some way or another who are totally, totally into dance music will have poor social skills and probably hate going out anyway. Don't become one of them. Don't become me. I did and it's not working out so great.