Feb 27, 2011

[Technicolor Musings] Why Do You Go Clubbing?

The club scene is somewhat integral to gay culture, depending on how you look at things. While not everyone feels they belong "in the scene" as it were, but at one point in time in our gay lives or another, we find ourselves in the gloom of a smoky bar, huddled together with dozens of other queers as we try to make sense of the madness while scoping out the next cute guy.

Flickr: cwangdom - DSC02427
by Christine Wang / cwangdom via Flickr.

I'm not exactly the kind of person you'd expect to frequent clubs I suppose - it's a geek thing or what have you. But I do enjoy my times there even though my sense of enjoyment in such environments is probably different from other people. The biggest difference there is that I've never had to go to a bar (1) as an unattached individual or (2) to try and find / pick up a guy. Not that I think I could manage that, mind you.

So I thought it might be fun to spend a little time to talk about my view of clubbing and what makes it fun for me. It might make sense to other geeks or other queers in general. Or it just might give you yet another interesting look at my way of thinking, if that's your thing.

Now from a pseudo disclaimer perspective, I don't claim to be some sort of club / circuit scene expert or anything like that. I'm closer to the average gay man who goes out occassionally and that's about it. I've made the rounds of most of the bars in the metro at various points of their existence. These days I'm mainly an O Bar kind of person (whether Malate or Ortigas). In the past I used to go a lot to BED (prior to the fire and the subsequent renovation / expansion). Historically I've been to places like Butterfly Bar and Government at least once in the course of time (although Government is gone now). So that's my clubbing resume, in a manner of speaking.

So back to topic, let's talk about the whole club scene more.

Dave's 40th Birthday @ Popstarz - 02
by David Cobb / davecobb via Flickr.

I feel the biggest reason for clubbing for me at this point remains to be friends above all else. Given my somewhat social ineptitude, I can never see clubs or bars as hook-up locations and such. Instead, I focus on them as places to hang out with friends and generally have a good time. This has naturally influenced why I go out and in turn shaped a lot of my opinions about the club scene.

When you're with your friends, you can never really have a "bad" night per se. Once you get past the social pressures of trying to find someone to hook up, dance clubs and bars can be pretty fun places where you can just unwind and relax. And if you enjoy a friends-centric clubbing experience, then you focus more on enjoying rather than making eye contact with a stranger or what have you.

Not that I'm condemning the whole hook up culture, mind you. I'm just saying that it's never been my thing and seeing the club scene from a different perspective has felt very liberating for me.

Space in Downtown MiamiImage via WikipediaSo part of the whole partying friends thing is of course drinking. Let's face it - people go out to clubs to drink to varying degrees. Some like to get totally hammered. Some just like to feel a subtle buzz to carry them through the night.

Personally, I'm a healthy buzz kind of person. I've never really seen the need to drink myself silly to the point that I can barely stand or will need assistance to get home. I have a few friends who seem to indulge in that and that's fine - if it's their thing, then it's their thing. But personally, I really like remaining sensible while at the club and I enjoy sleeping in my own bed at the end of the day.

To be fair, I did have one particularly bad drinking session early in my independent life which ended with me having an intimate conversation with the toilet, if you get my meaning. Worse is the fact that this was a company even and not just a night out with friends, so I suppose that really helped temper my drinking behavior since then.

Flickr: Jon Buchanan - Majestic 1
Majestic 1
by Jon Buchanan via Flickr.

Besides, too much drinking will get in the way of my other main goal for going out to "the scene" - dancing and of course good music. The two go hand in hand and you can't quite have one without the other. I don't like dancing to music I don't like and of course really good music is the kind that compels you to get out there and dance whether you want to or not. This is why I've stated in the past that the heart of any bar is ultimately its music. You're going to be willing to pay any ridiculous amount of the cover charge or for individual drinks if you really enjoy music.

This is where the road begins to fork and it becomes harder to determine what is "great" music, since ultimately this is up to the tastes of the individual. For example, a friend of mine likes more "progressive" dance music, and thus he is quite the BED regular. I tend to veer more towards vocals and campier anthems and which is why I enjoy O Bar more. I'm sure everyone figures out in time what music they like and the kind of mixes that they enjoy dancing to. Thus this ultimately helps you identify your bar of choice and what you and your friends like going crazy over. One is not necessarily better than the other - it's all up to you.

Flickr: cwangdom - DSC03458
by Catherine Wang / cwangdom via Flickr.

But the point of this entire discussion, really, is to stress that your clubbing experience is up to you to define. If you stick to the preconceptions that going to the clubs is "not your scene" since you don't like hook-ups or you don't like drinking or you don't dance, well that's really not a barrier against going. Find a reason to enjoy it for you and then it might turn out to be more enjoyable that you expected.

Like anything else in life, don't knock it until you've tried it. And more importantly, don't go in with preconceptions or limitations in terms of what you think is appropriate or the kind of people you believe are the ones who enjoy such activities. Free your mind, let down your hair a bit and see what there is to see. And if it doesn't work out, well, then it becomes up to you to either (1) try again with different friends or a different bar or (2) look for another activity to enjoy. Either way, at least you tried.

As for me, well, you just might catch me at a bar one weekend evening or so. As always, feel free to say high in case you recognize me or my partner. Then maybe we can share a round or whatever feels appropriate.
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  1. I also feel sad for those who insist on trying to form "competition" over the Pink Peso. In as much as I have no love for Bed, I don't see it as a competitor of O bar. I see merely another option for gay people can go to.

    But yeah, there will always be those who think there should be competition.

  2. I totally get what you mean. Over time, each bar develops its own market - no need to directly compete or proclaim one better than the other.

    Just go where you feel it's fun!