Recently, I found myself having a conversation with a friend which turned to the matter of her love life, as they often do with us:
“Emily, the clubs are shut and now I can’t find a man”
Initially, this statement appears ridiculous and the sum of the five empty gin glasses before her. The entirety of the male population residing in Exeter do not only exist in Timepiece or Fever (coming out at night like VK thirsty vampires). Rather, the problem for those like my friend is that clubs appear as the only place to meet someone in person. Clubs are the 21st century’s courting setting and, with a new preference for social distancing rather than social mixing, those like my friend view their post-Covid chances at love with pessimism and despair.
Clubs may appear grey and grim during the day, but they are made beautiful by the busy waves of bodies and bottles at night. The combination of high spirits (both in mood and plastic cups), dimmed lighting, and energetic music, presents the setting for such courtship. The gifting of roses replaced by the exchange of drinks, the reciting of poetry replaced by the rapping of AJ Tracey, and the reciprocating of vows replaced by the negotiation about which house to go to after.
This darkened room populated by bodies fuelled by alcoholic adrenalin meant that clubs presented opportunity for those who are not the most confident in their courting ability. It is the language of limbs and the embrace of eyes which alludes to the likelihood of ‘pulling’ – not in the sense of a pulled muscle from over-optimistic dancing or falling down the stairs (more likely), but pulling someone from across the room.
After a quick introduction, necessary background checks (their age and first name), you can accelerate past the traditional few dates and become intimate in what feels instant. I’ve witnessed everything from an army cadet pull a mermaid on TP Wednesday, to a close friend meeting her boyfriend over a shot of sambuca at the bar. My own experiences have never amounted to significant relationships (only material for articles), but it is not necessarily the pursuit of love which characterises 21st century courts. It is rather the only setting where one can truly exercise social confidence and dance to the beat of their own single being. Nights out are not defined by pulling someone, rather that is just an added detour to the story, but sometimes those detours are the details those like my friend miss, now clubs cannot resume their conventional running.
What painfully punctuated my friend’s realisation about the consequence of closed clubs was she was entering her final year at university.
“I can’t graduate without ever going to a TP Wednesday again”
Everything about being young is temporary – temporary relationships, temporary schedules, temporary homes, and temporary dreams. But with such a temporary existence comes immeasurable insecurity; who knows if their current partner will be with them after graduation let alone next month, who knows when they can move out of home for good and who knows if they will get a job. But what you do know, is that all becomes irrelevant when you can drink, dance, and desire someone from across the room. Clubbing is an escape and a high, sometimes sealed by a kiss with a stranger which, to past generations is reckless, but to our generation is an odd version of romance.
The chance to fancy someone and have a fling, or even possibly meet someone to begin a relationship with, appears lost now clubs cannot open as they once did. But what should be remembered is that this is not lost forever, and we will dance again. Despite any advice or words of wisdom I offered my friend, her reply was always going to be the same:
“I’m downloading Tinder again”
– Emily Coleman
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