Saturday night Kitty, the boyfriend and I all had tickets to go hear Superpitcher at Temple. It was one of those last-minute things that I put together on Thursday, thinking that a) it would be cool to hear Superpitcher, even though I’m not that huge a fan b) it would be a good chance to check out this new club. As it turned out we didn’t make it, for a combination of reasons that Kitty aptly summed up later in the evening as “our passive-aggressive way of saying we don’t want to go,” and which made me think more about the balance of expenditure and reward involved with being an active clubber.
I should preface by saying that I’m usually only good for one big night out a weekend, unless I have substantial chemical assistance, but that kind of weekend is something I can only manage psychically and physically on a quarterly basis, if that often. Friday night at Heat was a big night for the boyfriend and I; we certainly drank enough, and were both really tired after walking halfway there from the Castro, dancing all night, and then walking halfway back. I had to get up and out the door on Saturday to finish a couple large homework assignments, and when I went back to the bedroom to say goodbye, the first works the boyfriend spoke to me were “I don’t think I’m going to want to go out tonight.” The stage was thus set for at least part of the play that would unfold later in the evening.
Kitty came over early and we all ordered Indian food, which would turn out to the major source of the evening’s undoing. After dinner, in prep for going out, Kitty also treated himself to a party favor. I suspected that this would turn him into a bowl of jelly in about three hours, at which time we would either have to find a good chill space to pass the time at the club, or leave. Since I was going “sober” for the evening I was a little anxious about managing this aspect of things, which may have contributed to what happened next; not suspecting anything was wrong I went into the bathroom and, instead of doing what I thought I was going to do, I threw up dinner. Twenty minutes later, the boyfriend was in the bathroom experiencing some gastrointestinal issues of his own. By this time it was about 9.30, right when I thought we should be leaving, and right about the time that Kitty was beginning to feel some effects. I sat, he sat, we all sat and waited to see what would happen with our respective systems. Around 10 I puked again, but by 10.30 was thinking well, maybe if I can get some air and walk around without getting sick, I’ll make it. So we took a stroll down to 24th and Noe, and by the time we got back I was like “yeah, right, okay, I’m ready to go now.” At which time Kitty said “I just need to sit down and collect myself for a few minutes.” Well, a few minutes turned into about three hours, during which we hung out and watched The Simpsons movie instead of going to hear Superpitcher.
On the one hand, I felt really, really lame – I mean, I couldn’t get it up to get out on a Saturday to hear a major recording artist in my favorite genre of music? But I also realized that I really didn’t want to go out, and the reasons had as much to do with what I anticipated for the evening as they did with the general crappiness I felt after throwing up bad Pakistani/Indian food. The main negative anticipation was about money; I knew that on Friday night I had pretty much blown my budget for the weekend, though I had only bought about six drinks (not all for me), and paid for a cab there. Knowing that I would have to take a cab there and back for a total of about thirty bucks, plus probably about four drinks at downtown prices, made my wallet start to hurt. The other major negatave anticipation was about just being tired; I’ve been to enough of these “until after hours” shows with big names to know that they don’t usually put the headliner on until about 2AM, meaning at least 4AM until I got home. And then I was worried that we would go through all this to get down there, only to find it kind of a lame show, or we would variously be unable to deal with the situation (this is a club with bottle service, after all) and turn around and come back after only an hour or two.
Against these negative anticipations I had very little in the way of positive ones, and this is what made me realize something important about the nature of club life for me; the negative anticipations are usually countered by the ease of the situation, and the amount of effort required to participate. If I know that it’s just about dressing up, going out, hanging with my friends, dancing, and coming home when I’ve had enough, then I can overcome a lot of inertia to get myself out the door. But when expense, difficulty in getting to the club, and the potential of dealing with a non-fun situation comes up, I find it harder to motivate myself. In general, I prefer the smaller club party over the big celebrity hoe-down because it’s easier to match my expectations against what actually goes on. Though the boyfriend and I agree that we want to go out and hear more live music, which generally qualifies as a big event, there’s a different relationship to the event when it’s about a live performance, rather a big name DJ.
The other factor, of course, is that I just wasn’t excited about this event, and I’ve been spending a lot of time thinking about why that was. When I used to go out to undergrounds on an almost weekly basis I was always excited, mainly because I had some idea of what to expect, but also because going to those events made me feel like part of a community. Going out to a big club night makes me feel like a sheep about to be fleeced; the bottom line is always about how much money can be extracted from you while you’re inside, and this why they do things like not putting the headline on until late – the longer you’re there, the more you’ll drink. On this occasion, despite my interest in the peformer, I just wasn’t that enthusiastic about the idea that he was largely the magnet for attracting all the money out of my pocket.
I’ve pretty much avoided the big club scene for a while now; I can’t remember the last time I was at 1015, I’ve never been to Ruby Skye, and I don’t know that I’ll make it to Temple any time soon. Instead, I think I’ll turn my attention back to those small events where I feel more like I’m taking part in something, where my presence means more than just another fifty bucks in the bar till, and where there is enough anticipation of something fun, innovative, and exciting to get me out the door even after I’ve barfed twice.