‘A Sober Encounter…’ is due to be published in The Student Advertiser in June, 2015.
Are you young?
In your late teens/early twenties?
Great. So, you’ve probably discovered the Garage? What was it like for you? Everyone I speak to has different opinions of their first experience. Some are happy to describe it as “the beginning of the rest of their life”, whereas other people genuinely believe it’s the worst thing they’ve encountered since hearing what Chris Martin named his children.
The main thing to note here is that no one seems to have had a mediocre experience because that would be the worst thing it could be. A night in the Garage levels out somewhere between a quiet drink with friends and a whitey-mixing fest with a bunch of people you pick up during pre-drinks. Some say it’s a bloodbath; I say it’s bloody brilliant. But, what is it like for a new party-goer?
I was not always an avid Garage promoter. In fact, contrary to popular belief, there was a time in the not too distant past when I was the first of my friends to turn 18 and the only one who didn’t drink. Alas, the big day arrived around two months before I turned nineteen: I was finally going to see what this mysterious venue did to its attendees at my first 18th event in town – 110% sober. (Key mistake.)
To readers who don’t derive from these parts – and are unfamiliar with all that the “people” who “make Glasgow” do for entertainment – the Garage IS NOT a concrete hollow where people go to socialise around parked cars and lawnmowers while someone’s mum bangs on the door telling them to turn the music down. The Garage is Glasgow’s biggest club. And if you skip pre-drinks before entering, it might also be Glasgow’s biggest turn off.
Inundated with neon lights that gleamed in every shade of the chemical reaction scale, I remembering stumbling through the front of house security checks – not only physically impaired by my six-inch go-to’s but due to these neon lights– partially blind. As if sobering up from my single vodka half-way along Sauchiehall Street wasn’t a damper on the evening enough, before me lay the potential for a serious accident: stairs. I tried to find it within myself to feel at ease. All of this coming-of-age, laughing off overly-optimistic shoe choices is synonymous with the Garage, right?
After scaling the walls of the stairwell for balance, trying not to exert myself to prevent perspiration, the next direction veered naturally towards staying on this level – which, apparently, wasn’t an option. Spread over four floors of gradually increasing madness, the Garage looks more like a haunted mansion than the sanctuary ‘hype’ so enthusiastically mislead me to believe. As the madness of each room increased, the dignity of those inside decreased dramatically, but the energy was electrifying.
However, I was here now. I paid my entry – discounted because, being a student, we like to reap every benefit the system offers our glossy, white plastic cards – and set off for the main hall which I gathered from surrounding conversations was the “place to be”… “man”. My friends and I paid to leave our jackets in the cloakroom, some of us willingly, others (me) grudging the £1.50 to borrow a solidary coat hanger from a storeroom, and set off into the jungle on level 1.
I must admit, that despite all previous hostility, the Garage has continued to offer me some of the most entertaining nights of my existence. Filled to the brim with like-minded students pretending they’ve studied hard since Monday to party on Saturday, you meet a wealth of young people who are just like you and living for that all-too-short weekend.
After a painful experience (painful by the ‘club virgin’s’ level, I should add) I left level 1 to explore the rest of the venue, genuinely not even bothered that I was a little sweatier than I was used to. So far, no run-ins, no pervy dancers and no fall outs over people dancing a little too close to our bums. I came to the conclusion I was either not doing something right or my make-up had melted off to reveal my “natural beauty”. Either way, I did not care, I wasn’t even intoxicated and I was craving the introduction to every upcoming tune. Walking downstairs, we came across a smaller room that was packed-to-the-ceiling with people grooving to the beat of S Club 7’s Bring It All Back. The Cheesy Pop Room was before us, and I regret that I cannot remember a single thing from that moment onwards.
Spluttering in my own sweat – one shoe in my hand, the other under a table by the door next to my cardigan – I chaired the chants of “wan mare tune” to the DJ in residency. He had graced us with some classics over the past three hours playing, the likes of 5, 6, 7, 8, C’est La Vie, Country Roads and 500 Miles. Understandably, I – amongst others – was not prepared to allow a man of that skill slip away without one final encore of Mr Brightside.
The moral of this encounter is this: don’t let stigma ruin what could be a brilliant opportunity. Clubbing is what it is: it’s sweaty conversation with people you don’t know while they fix your hair in toilets and tell you you’re still beautiful when your fake eyelashes are sliding half way down your cheeks. It’s not for everyone, I wouldn’t even say it was for me! Just avoid talking yourself out of good experiences because of what you’ve heard. That goes for everything you come across. Experiment; we’re students and we get away with it.