Bars And Clubs Aren't All Bad
I've noticed that as a group people who struggle socially have a tendency to dislike bars and nightclubs. The attitude sometimes comes across as fairly intense and bitter as well, almost like they hold a grudge against the very idea of clubbing. I don't think going to them is as bad as some people make it out to be, and will go into detail below. I'll try to take a balanced approach of acknowledging that clubbing isn't perfect, but also sticking up for it and pointing out where I think the appeal is.
Like with some of my other articles, the goal isn't to convince you you must take part in a particular activity to do better socially. I totally realize that for many people clubbing will never be their style, and that's fine, and they can do great in life without it, especially once they're past their early 20's. However, I think if you have a big chip on your shoulder toward clubs, that mentality can close some doors and pointlessly bring down your mood. Hopefully this piece will soften your stance.
Clubbing definitely has its flaws
I'd be naive to say there was nothing annoying about going to clubs. There are at least a dozen reasons to get put off by them. It's not hard to see how some people could decide it's not their thing:
- They can be overcrowded.
- They can be way too loud, often to the point that you can barely talk to anyone.
- They can be cheesy.
- They can be pretentious.
- They can be overpriced (cover charge/drinks/coat check/VIP section, etc.).
- The staff can be rude and arrogant.
- They can be stiflingly hot.
- They can be smelly and dirty.
- They may have annoying dress codes.
- They can sketchy and dangerous.
- The music can be awful.
- The atmosphere can be very superficial.
- You may have to wait forever to get a drink.
- The lights can be blinding.
- They can be full of drunk idiots.
- People may be stuck up, rude, obnoxious, or catty toward you.
- If you're a guy, some jerk may try to pick a fight with you.
- You may not directly get into a confrontation, but be near one when it happens and have your night ruined by the bad vibes it causes.
- If you're a woman you may get groped, harassed, and hit on by creeps.
- If you go out a lot, and see the same people week after week, they can sometimes be a very vapid, unhealthy group of "friends".
- You may have to wait in line for a long time (even worse if it was all a trick, and the place is dead once you get inside).
- If you have sensory sensitivities the noise, flashing lights, smells, and jostling may be extra-unpleasant.
Even among people who like clubbing, these things sometimes get on their nerves. Sometimes their night will be totally ruined because of something that goes wrong.
People who don't mind clubbing don't have as bad a reaction to the annoying parts
I've noticed people who like clubbing acknowledge its flaws, but don't get as bent out of shape about them as some of us do:
- They plain don't care about some things that other people find aggrevating (e.g., crowded conditions, how everyone is behaving, cover charges, etc.).
- They see some of the annoyances more as minor nuisances than deal breakers.
- They go in knowing what they can and can't do. They don't get ticked off because they can't have an in-depth conversation in a club, because they never went in with the expectation that was possible. It's a theme I sometimes bring up in relation to other topics. It's easier to enjoy things if you take them for what they are, rather than getting peeved about what they might have been.
- They see the annoyances as coming with the territory. They realize some of the flaws of clubbing are a natural side effect of the things that can make them fun.
Most people reach a point where they don't go clubbing as much, if at all
Clubbing has enough drawbacks that many people do it less and less as they get into their mid-twenties. Eventually most stop going at all and will tell you they don't like clubs anymore. To be fair, there are other reasons this happens, such as having more responsibilities and plain getting older, but plenty of people feel that clubbing just starts to get tiresome. Some of the novelty wears off, and even if you're good-natured about the flaws, they still start to wear you down after you've experienced them enough.
Reasons people go out to bars and clubs
So I covered the downsides. In my experience bars and clubs offer plenty of reasons to go to them as well. I find people who dislike clubbing tend to be dismissive of these reasons though. I'll get more into that later. Why would someone want to go to a bar or club?
- To dance
- To hear music they like, and through a good sound system
- To see a certain band or DJ
- To drink
- To get out of the house and go somewhere
- To go out and hang out with a few friends
- To go out in a big group
- To go out and see the other regulars and staff
- To go out and meet new people
- For a chance to hook up with someone
- To shoot some pool
- To watch a game
- Just to be in an interesting, stimulating environment (i.e., music, lights, decor, etc.)
- To blow off steam after a long week of work or classes
- To be in a crowd
- To do drugs
- To check a new venue out and see what it's like
- To be out in their 'scene' with like-minded people
- To dress up and do something more glitzy than day-to-day life
- To be somewhere that's happening
"The things people do in clubs are shallow"
When you read the list above, did you catch yourself turning up your nose at any of the points? "Ugh, dancing is so mindless. Why do people like it?" That's the first way people who dislike clubbing tend to dismiss it. They see everything that draws people to clubs as shallow and below them. My main response to that is you don't have to like everything, but things like dancing and listening to good music are fun for their own sake. What's wrong with that? Sure, they're not as deep as reading philosophy, but there's no law that says you have to devote all of your time to cerebral, meaningful pursuits. You probably have your own fun, pointless hobbies which other people don't see the big deal about.
The other thing to watch out for is saying you don't like something for reasons that don't really have to do with the activity itself. For example, someone may think they don't like clubbing because it's superficial and annoying, but they're also uncomfortable in that setting, and a little envious of the people who do well in that world. I cover this ego-cushioning thinking in this article.
"The only reason people really go to clubs is to..."
This is the second way people write off clubbing. Their reasoning is that while people supposedly go clubbing to dance or unwind, they really have a less-flattering ulterior motive. The implication is that no one could really like what clubbing has to offer for its own sake. The only reason they're in it is for something else. The one's I've heard are:
- People only really go clubbing to try to get laid.
- Women really only go clubbing for the attention they get from men.
- Guys only really go to bars because they want to act macho and get into fights.
- Women really only go clubbing to get free drinks and to feed their egos.
- People only really go clubbing to get wasted.
- People only really go clubbing to feel superior and to judge others.
Don't get me wrong, tons of people go clubbing with the sole purpose of trying to hook up. Many more people don't go out completely for one of the reasons above, but it does factor into their thinking. Also, certain bars are known for being places where you only go if you're looking for a one-night stand, or to do ecstasy, or whatever.
Not every last person who goes clubbing has these motivations though. It's negative and cynical to paint everyone with the same brush. A lot of times if someone wants to go to a club to dance with their friends they really do just want to dance. Plenty of people still go clubbing when they're dating someone. They're not only there for a hook-up and lose all interest in them as soon as they get into a relationship.
Clubs are mostly full of good, regular people
A common sentiment about bars and clubs is that they're full of vapid people. I can't deny some club goers fit this description, but I think most of them are just like anyone else. My logic is that most people are alright, and a good proportion of them go to bars and clubs, so if you go to a packed venue, the patrons can't all be empty-headed and irritating. There's also the argument that you've probably been to clubs before, and you're not a moron, so it's reasonable to assume other people are in the same boat.
The environment sure makes everyone seem more shallow though:
- People usually dress up when they go out. That makes everyone look like the stereotypical shallow clubber, even if they're philosophy students by day. Otherwise down-to-earth guys put on their shiny shoes and flashy shirts. Normal, level-headed women put on their sparkly make-up and revealing tops.
- People who are clubbing are admittedly there to have some mindless fun. So of course they won't be showing the more thoughtful sides of their personality. Even if they wanted to, the noise level and general craziness going on doesn't make it easy. They're joking around, being rowdy, and letting off steam.
- Not everyone drinks, but most of the people are either drunk or at least a little buzzed. That tends to obviously make you act stupider.
- If you run into someone who's acting rude or obnoxious, that one person will stand out in your mind. But you don't notice the other two hundred guests who are behaving, and who are probably just as annoyed with the douchebags as you are.
- Women who go out can get pretty hassled. As a result they can adopt a more stuck-up persona as a kind of armor against all the guys who bother them.
- Plenty of people who go clubbing feel shy or out of their element, but they look around and everyone else seems to have it together, so they put on a brave face and look confident as well. Sometimes it's the least likely people who are feeling insecure.
The hooking up / wanting to meet someone factor
I've mentioned this before, but I'll go into this in more detail as I think it plays a big role in how people can come to be put off bars and clubs. For a lot of people, trying to meet someone or get laid often ends in disappointment. There are men who are good at picking up women. There are women who manage to meet cute, fun guys at bars. But for every one of them, there are ten guys who are too nervous or awkward to talk to anyone, or there are ten women who only get hit on by pushy jerks. You can only take having your hopes frustrated so many times. You may come to hate clubs themselves instead of just that fact that you can't meet anyone in them.
When you go out with the main goal of trying to meet someone, you also tend to put less thought into what type of bar you're going to. You just go wherever there seems to be a lot of cute women or hot guys. As such, you're more likely to end up somewhere that isn't really to your taste. You can also be less choosy about who you go out with. So you can end up doing things like hanging out with guys whose company you don't totally enjoy just because you want a wingman.
Another thing is that if you go out with a real 'Must. Meet. Someone.' attitude it can cause you to lose your ability to appreciate elements of clubbing for their own sake. You can start to see everything you do as work and a means to an end. You evaluate how well your night went in terms of whether you met anyone, not how much fun you had - if you had no luck, then your night sucked. If someone's comfortable with their love life it's nothing for them to go to a bar and just enjoy the music and company and have a good night. If you're single and feeling desperate, things like dancing, music, and being with friends can seem more pointless. Of course it's easier said than done to just have fun in the moment and not care about meeting someone, if getting into a relationship is important to you.
How to have more fun when you go to bars and clubs
Another reason some people don't like clubbing as much as they could is that they don't do everything they can to ensure they have a good time at them. Again, I'm not saying everyone has to force themselves like clubbing. These are just things that can make them more enjoyable:
Seek out places that align with your tastes
When people are new to clubbing they have a tendency to go to sprawling, flashy, stereotypically club-like clubs because they don't know what else is out there. For some people that scene is for them and they don't move on, but others eventually shift to more subdued, smaller-scale venues. Picking the right place to go can make a huge difference in how much fun you have.
Take the time to look around and find a place with a good vibe, music you like, and a friendly crowd. If you're into punk rock and that whole subculture, there's no reason you need to be at some hot spot full of lasers and thumping techno. Avoid the places that are annoying. If you think a spot sucks there's no reason you have to show up there, unless your friends all want to go, and even then you can make your case for heading somewhere else.
Have some skills in clubbing activities
You usually have more fun at things when you're good at them. This applies to the usual activities clubbing entails. Dancing can feel mortifying if you're not good at it, but quite fun once you've got some basic moves down. The idea of being "good" at joking around and hanging out and having fun is more abstract, but the same concept applies. Being able to meet and chat to strangers is another skill. Like I said in the last point, clubs are demoralizing if you want to meet people but can't, but once you know how a whole new world opens up.
A similar idea to being good at bar and club activities is being able to appreciate certain elements of the places. Like if you don't know much about music, it's nothing to care about. But once you learn about some artists and develop your tastes, then you can start to like that aspect of going to bars.
Go out with the right friends
Bars can be pretty boring if you go with the wrong people. Things to look for are friends who have the same basic goal in mind as you (not you want to take it easy and have a few drinks, they want to dance all night), people who won't get drunk and distracted and ditch you, and people who are generally fun company.