After some ritualised pre-drinking and drumming together an entourage of friends, your obvious choice will be to head to the club; often a dingy, overcrowded, overpriced and sparsely furnished space where the standard of accepted behaviour nosedives into neanderthal territory. The setting almost forces you into getting out of your tree on one toxin or another, so you can join the crowd in regressing your evolution to a state where dancing wildly around a campfire before withdrawing to our caves was the most exciting activity on our calendar. Our expectations are lowered, our senses dulled and our base instincts given precedent. Is this what the species that built the pyramids and walked on the moon needs to do to amuse itself?
Why is it that we persistently congregate in uncomfortably loud darkness to collectively lose our self-control? Posing this question to my friends, the answers I get most often are ‘you meet people’, ‘I go to clubs for the music’, ‘It’s a good setting to shed your inhibitions’. So it could be the hope of finding someone else that propels us into it, although the connections that are made in that environment almost never outlast sobering up. You are not best placed for human contact in a club that’s too loud to talk, too dark to see and where your other senses are stripped down to minimum, even if you are then most receptive to it. Furthermore, the people you do meet tend to be distorted versions of themselves at best, as are you.
For the music, then? If it were that simple you’d be as happy just playing recently unearthed musical gems to your friends. You could even invite some strangers and turn the lights down for good measure, do Jaeger bombs and flail around in the half-light. As tempting as that depiction may sound, I think the majority would still opt for the clubbing route over that any time.
Considering this, could the lynch pin of the appeal of the ol’ discoteque rest in our need for a place where we are free to act like fools without considering the consequences? Maybe we just need to lose our responsibilities, or rather just misplace them until Monday. There is something pleasurable in a pagan sort of way to writhing in an unnaturally large throng of people, all of them also acting unnaturally. When reduced just to impulse, we touch some part of our psyche that during the day hides behind morality and societal conditioning.
Clubbing may demonstrate repellent traits in humanity, but that does not mean it can’t be important. It celebrates that base creature that we try to deny during the day, hiding it behind To Do lists and Blackberrys. The perversity in a human being that has evolved living in groups of no more than 150 people bingeing on so much company as well as mind-altering substances is at the core a celebration of excess, a bursting of confines. Simply put, it just has always felt nice to be naughty, and today a club just offers a good arena for it. It was the same for the Pagans, the Vikings, and the Romans with their wild, vibrant festivals held for the masses that featured everything from orgies to communal castrations. The Christians may reigned it in a bit on the excesses front, but if you look hard enough you can still see similarities between benediction and a dubstep night.
Having said that though, I wouldn’t advise hanging out in a church of a Sunday morn looking to get laid.