Clubbing used to be so fun. Dancing away in heels that blistered and mutilated my feet: then realising that anything that hindered the fun was out, so the flats were very in (they also enabled a much wider variety of dance moves). The alcohol would flow and every favourite song would come on. We got to the point where we did not care what anyone thought of us, we danced jubilantly – enthusiastically. We only went to the places that played the music we loved not the beep-beep-boop of an Apple Mac. It was great. There was a sort of impenetrable wall around us, like a hazy shield of alcohol that meant I never took any notice of what was going on outside of that candy flavoured bubble of post-teen fun. Then I would turn and suddenly it would become translucent where the pastel opaqueness had sheltered us. I could see, but I would turn again and there I would be in safety; re-enveloped in a bubble of my own denial. The bubble was flimsy, it was like candy floss, except instead of licking it, you just had to look at it too hard and it would disappear to nothing like it never existed.
The problem was, it was never impenetrable: it isn’t impenetrable. I can see through it now, out into the lion’s den where men linger salaciously. Then I realise, there was nothing around us at all. There was no safety net. We knew they were standing there all along, their eyes glistening in the dark, waiting for the moment that one of us would drop out of our circle. That was the only protection we had. Our dancing wasn’t carefree, now I remember the quick glances: was everyone there? Who was standing around us? The thoughts that swept over me every few moments as the alcohol began to wear off. The “you can never be too careful” of our mothers, our teachers and the horror stories that they told us ringing in our ears. The stories that meant that without fail we always went to the toilet as a group and our male friends would comment “Why do girls always go to the toilet together?” That was the problem, we did the token things like never going to the toilet alone, but still the maternal voices rang like stories, the unlucky girl, and the evil man who did that. What a rare occurrence we all thought. We were so wrong.
When they would pounce, it wasn’t an attack, but a sleek meandering into our circle. Sometimes drinks, sometimes help was promised.
“Do you want a hand with her?” They’d ask like butter wouldn’t fucking melt.
“Want some drinks ladies?” Eyeing up the drunkest of us.
Other times they’d just stand and stare. You can see the calculating look in their eyes, what one is the drunkest? What one is most likely to be left behind? What one is the youngest?
Some of them weren’t intelligent enough for calculation. Those were the scariest, the ones that have nothing to lose, you have no clue what they will do, and how far they will go. The ones who’s friends don’t even defend them if they’re confronted by a group of girls who have identified their pervert glazed eyes in a snippet of light.
“We’ll tell him, we’ll take him away” they say. Take him where? To another group of less suspecting girls. They look at you with apologetic eyes that say “we know, we’re sorry”. It’s not good enough.
The older ones too, perverse. Older than your dad, gammon faced and sweaty, and you know they’re only there because they’ve had success with this tactic before. This is where they go to pick up fresh meat, never mind what is at home.
As I’ve got older I’ve seen it more and more. As much as I drink I can’t shake the awareness, or the responsibility. They said that the novelty would wear off at some point, “clubbing isn’t fun forever.” I just grew fucking tired of negotiating away from salivating pricks to enjoy it anymore. Not only that, but I can step through the bubble now. I’ve broken down the fourth wall, and it isn’t pretty when I do. They never argue back. They know when they’ve been seen and have to fallback, walk away empty handed. I think they can see the truth behind my threats I KNOW WHAT YOU’RE DOING I say in more violent words. I guess I’d learnt the hard way what happens when you let the sickly bubble of denial engulf you.
We can be screaming at the top of our lungs to Come on Eileen, shoes off, make-up smeared down our faces, we can literally throw up on them (true story) and men* still wait on the edge of darkness to rape us.