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How to Have Fun at the Club, In Five Easy Steps

Image via Flickr Creative Commons

Let's face it: Clubs are fairly intimidating places, especially at first. They're dark, loud, crowded, and they seem to have their own set of unspoken rules and etiquette. To the uninitiated, going out to a club can often seem like an exercise in cliquishness alongside a heaping helping of sensory overload. On more than one occasion, friends have asked me: "OK, now that you've told me which places to go, what am I supposed to do when I get there?" To answer the question, here are five easy ways you can ensure a fantastic night out at the club. Let's begin with…

5. DO YOUR RESEARCH.
Which is another way of saying not all clubs are alike. Before you head out for the night, do some Googling: What's the club's website like? Is it flashy, glitzy, advertising bottle service? Is it minimal and simplistic, with little more than an events calendar? Do you recognize any of the music or DJs booked? Are there photos of the club's patrons, and if so, do they seem like the kind of people you'd like to spend a night out with? These things can tell you a lot about the club's atmosphere and overall feeling. Flashy, glossy websites (and bottle service) usually means there's some kind of dress code enforced, and the music on a given night will probably be rap and radio fodder, with pop-friendly flavors of EDM mixed in. Simpler websites with prominent events calendars usually means traveling DJs or live acts are being booked, and you can expect to hear something that's at least tangentially related in some way, shape or form to house music, with more casually-dressed patrons. Generally speaking, the vibe of a club's website will more or less match the vibe of the club itself. Once you find something that clicks with you, make sure you…

4. DRESS APPROPRIATELY.
Now that you have some sense of the club's vibe, dig deep into your wardrobe and find something that matches. Upscale, ritzier clubs tend to feature ladies in heels and dresses alongside guys in button-up shirts and suit jackets (but please, leave the pinstripe shirts at home, guys–for everyone's sake). Warehouse-y clubs tend to have a lot of t-shirts, sweaters, and jeans. Going somewhere kinda goth, maybe punk-y? All black everything. (Or all white, if you want to have fun with it.) No matter where you're going, though, gloss it up a bit. Wear something a little out of the ordinary. Make sure you stay comfortable, but get a little flashier than you would otherwise–it's okay to attract more attention than usual, especially since you should…



3. GO WITH YOUR FRIENDS, BUT (MORE IMPORTANTLY) MAKE NEW ONES.
At first, it's kind of a bummer going to a club by yourself. (I've done it myself, many times). If you can find some like-minded friends you can take with you, do so; they'll provide welcome respite from the crowds, and they're built-in conversation partners. But if you can't rope any of your friends into coming with you–and even if you can–talk to someone new. Introduce yourself. Say hello. You'll meet interesting, bizarre, weird, and awesome people. The best part is, if you had a great time at Club X and you decide to go back the next time Night Y rolls around, you'll see some familiar faces, and that means new friends. Clubs are inherently social spaces–take advantage. If you meet someone new, buy them (and yourself) a drink, which will help you…

2. GET INTOXICATED.
Silly, right? Like you even need me to tell you that. It seems obvious, but it's important to remember that an integral part of a successful club experience is losing yourself. This is why the music is so loud, why the lights are flashing a million different colors, and why it can be hard to make sense of what's going on. All of it is designed to help you remove yourself from the mundanity of your day-to-day existence, to let you freak out, to let you drop the façade and get crazy. Don't do anything stupid, of course–know your limits, and (especially if you're a lady!) don't accept anything from anyone you don't know and trust. And I'm certainly not advocating the use of anything that would be, you know, illegal, but clubs are good spaces to push yourself outside of your comfort zone. Experience something new. All of this will help you endeavor to do the single most important thing to having a great time at the club, which is:

1. DANCE.
Even more obvious. But it's not as easy as it seems. If you're a newcomer to the club environment, dancing will seem like a strange, alien activity, practiced only by the drunken fools stumbling around you. But give it a chance. The music is overwhelmingly loud anyway, so let yourself feel the beat: Start by nodding your head, shaking your hips a little, maybe shuffling your feet around. If you're worried about looking stupid, don't be, because you don't look stupid, and even if you did, it wouldn't matter. At a certain point, once the rhythm has seeped inside your body and you've had a drink or three, you will start to realize why you're here, and if the DJ is on point (which he or she will be, if you follow my Party Blotter column), the music will take over your body and your mind will disappear. Later, when you stumble out of the club at 2 or 4 or 6 in the morning, sweaty, smiling, thinking about nothing else except how soon the next weekend will arrive, you will understand: To rave is to live. See you next time out on the dancefloor.