I enjoy pub culture; drinking, chatting to a background of music and the hum of other peoples conversation has always made me feel at ease. The same cannot be said for nightclubs; thankfully as a married man with three kids the need to go to nightclubs has evaporated from my life.
Alas this was not always the case.
As a teenager and throughout my 20s, I would have to pretend to enjoy these dark, loud and socially uncomfortable venues on a weekly basis, The evening would always start well; in the secure and warm embrace of a pub, Music from a juke box of your choice with conversation being the main form of communication made for a joyous few hours. In a pub I felt at home; like a Buddhist in a temple or a Yorkshireman complaining. Alas at closing time, for there used to be such a thing, the pub would reject us all and with licensing laws being what they were in England, the only option to continue the night was to head to the dreaded nightclub.
Off we would walk to join a queue for a venue that was likely half empty; after a sobering period of time we would finally make it through the entrance and past the ever serious bouncer to the payment counter. Unlike a pub, where the offering was similar, to get into these venues a hefty entrance fee was required. A fee that would be swapped for an invisible stamp; quite why the stamp had to be invisible was never made clear. After making payment, you would either turn a corner or go down some stairs where the nightclub would reveal itself. Most, if not all, nightclubs would follow the same layout; a bar in the corner and seating and standing areas surrounding the dreaded dance floor. In many ways it seemed to have followed the example of the Colosseum where the brave, or clueless, would the enter the arena while the rest would watch in morbid fascination from the surrounding seats.
The first port of call would be the bar where holding a conversation would be impossible, the music would always be ridiculously loud, leaving you to use hand gestures to place your order. The drinks would arrive and the bill would be twice as much as the pub you just left, but with no ability to make a complaint,as the music would drown out your protestations. So you would just have to take it on the chin and sip the warm bottle beer you had just purchased. With communication impossible you would then have to simply drink yourself into an appropriately inebriated state to build up the confidence to hit the dance floor.
Unfortunately, unlike generations past, by the time it was my right of passage to hit a dance floor, the rules of engagement had changed beyond recognition. The custom was no longer to approach a girl and ask if she wanted to dance, instead dancing had become a peculiarly single activity. Rather bizarrely you would have to simply dance on your own and hope that through luck, chance or fortune that your moves would attract a member of the opposite sex from which you would then progress to dancing as a couple and take matters from there. Unsurprisingly, I lacked this ability and would instead dance on my own for hours like a Duracell Bunny relying on one move that would be repeated endlessly until the lights came up and the evening ended. By this time I would have sobered up a tad, due to the one move dancing, and the need for a kebab would replace the need for more alcohol. And so at the end of the evening myself and my friends, none of whom had managed to pull off the solo to dancing trick with a girl either, would sit down and eat a kebab before going home.
Looking back, I wish I had skipped the nightclubs and just gone straight to the Kebab Van after the pub; a nightclub is no place for a man whose favourite pass-time since childhood has been listening to Test Match special in the comfort of a sofa.
Looking back on these days, I feel the world is split into pub and club people. I am very much a pub person