How do you know when to pull the plug on party life?
‘You’re going what?’ says Tom, when I phone him to see if he wants to come along. ‘Is that even a thing anymore?’
1. You call it clubbing.
I confess no-one else is calling it that; apparently we’re ‘going to a dance party’. Lauchlan’s girlfriend’s cousin’s something is DJ’ing at a Good Friday daytime gig and our names are on the door. Tom says thanks, but he’d rather stick pins in his eyes. Andrew’s up for it though and Michael, when I phone him, is even keener. He’s celebrating the results of his sperm test.
‘Easter is a time of fertility,’ he tells me (I think he means rebirth), ‘and daddy’s going to party!’
When I ask him if Michelle will come along, he says, ‘No, she’s now on a serious health drive to support our chances of conceiving.’ I’m curious about why Mikey isn’t on the same health drive, but he chooses not to hear me.
2. You’re considering doing it ‘clean’.
‘No point going to a party if you can’t indulge’ he says. ‘Who’s sorting all the gear, by the way?’
‘No idea’ I say. ‘I’m not indulging either. Six hours of fun followed by a week of hell, what’s the point?’
Even on the phone, I can hear Mikey doing that thing people do when talking about drugs. Drifting off from a person who’s clearly not a potential lead to them.
We agree to meet at my place, given it’s the closest to the city. The current Mr. Gillmore is out of town so there’s no need to tidy up for people coming over. Lauchlan and Annia are the first to arrive, Annia’s managing not to say anything nasty about the apartment… then looks me slowly up and down.
‘Oh Ged,’ she says. ‘Are you not coming out with us?’
3. You’re thinking of wearing a nice shirt.
I’m wearing my favourite short-sleeved shirt and a pair of jeans. When she goes to the bathroom I ask Lauchlan what’s wrong with my outfit. He shrugs in that really useful way he has of shrugging, then says ‘Maybe a bit try hard?’ I grab my iPad and search for images of earlier occasions of this dance party. Hundreds of sweaty people of all ages waving at the camera in what they got out of bed in. Vests, t-shirts, shorts. I head into the bedroom and change back into what I was wearing before I got ready.
The party is at The Ivy on George Street, which I must admit I’m keen to see (I know, I know, but it’s only been open five years, give me a break). For those of you outside Sydney, The Ivy is the place everyone loves to hate. Too big, too flash, too pretentious. ‘It’s on the naughty list,’ Andrew tells me as we walk down the alleyway to its entrance. ‘One too many drug-busts’. Now they have sniffer dogs and body searches at the entrance. As he and I join the queue for people with printed tickets, he points out all the warnings on the paper in our hands about illicit substances.
‘Ah, Ged’ says Annia, walking past us. ‘You old people are so quaint, printing things out.’
4. You’ve printed out your ticket.
She, Lauchlan, and Michael join the queue for people with tickets on their phones. They all bring their screens to life so they can be scanned by a gigantic female bouncer and her itsy-bitsy iPad. But, as Andrew and I watch, this system breaks down. The bouncer, having recognised some friends in the queue, has reset her ipad to selfie mode and now can’t get it scanning again. Somewhat frustratingly, I can’t think of anything bitchy to say about this to Annia before Andrew pushes me forward to walk into the club (sorry, “dance party”, I have to remember that), leaving her and the others behind.
It’s an impressive space with adjoining rooms in luxurious décor and a huge outdoor dance floor under the rain. We go across the courtyard and up the lift to get to the rooftop pool. This being Australia, and alcohol being present, I’d expected the pool to be roped off and guarded by dogs, but it turns out swimming is encouraged. I tell Andrew I wish I’d known, I’d have brought my swimmers.
‘Really?’ he says. ‘Have you seen the competition?’
5. You forgot to go to the gym (for the last four years).
He has a point. Everyone dancing in swimmers is seriously buff. Andrew himself works out regularly, and I wonder if he’s going to strip off and dive in. ‘Different league’ he says. ‘These guys train specifically for these events.’ He’s not wrong. We’re surrounded by stomachs like a xylophone convention, and I count three men wearing body make-up. I didn’t even know that was a thing.
6. You have your hands in the air like you just don’t care.
We find Annia and Lauchlan downstairs near the main stage, Mikey lost somewhere in bare-chested land. I close my eyes and get into the spirit of the thing for a while, opening them again to find I’m the only one dancing with my hands in the air. Whatever happened to that? But then a track comes on I actually remember and, who cares, up they go again. Woo-hoo, life is fun.
7. You’re worried about your tinnitus.
Soon though, I realise I’m dancing right next to the speakers, just like old times, lost in the very beat of the thing. Unless I want my ears screaming at me for the next few days slash years, it’s not a good idea, so I shimmy over to the bar and order a beer. It only costs twice as much as I pay in a pub, which I think is fine, until it arrives and is half the size of what I was expecting.
‘Alright?’ says the woman next to me. ‘Having a good time?’
‘Yeah,’ I say. ‘Great! You?’
8. You can’t help noticing the dirt.
It’s a friendly club (sorry, “party”, I just can’t remember that), and I have this same conversation eight times with various people over the following hour. Sometimes, as I dance or walk around, I come across people I’ve already had the conversation with and they greet me like old friends. All the same, after another hour I’m bored and, no matter how much over-priced beer I drink, I can’t escape the feeling that everyone around me is having far more fun. Also, and I can’t bear how middle-aged this makes me sound, I can’t help noticing how grubby the place is. It’s five years old I suppose, but still, you’d think they’d give those sofas a bit of a wipe. I resist looking at my watch, drink a few more beers, dance in the middle of a hundred sweaty bodies and tell myself I’m having a good time. Then Lauchie appears from nowhere, grinning in my face.
‘Alright if we head back to your place?’ he says. ‘They’ve got pass-outs.’
Michael, Andrew, and Annia are standing behind him, looking at me hopefully.
‘Just to freshen our noses’ he says. ‘Half an hour max, then we’ll all come back here. No security risk.’
I’m on the point of being bothered by this, they’ve obviously agreed on it in advance, leaving all the gear back at my place. But then I realise the golden opportunity this presents. For the first time in hours, I’m grinning as much as everyone around me.
9. You’d rather be at home under a blanket.
I keep them to their word. Half an hour max, then they’re all out of the apartment again, in a taxi back to the Ivy. Ten minutes after that, I’m showered, pyjama’d, and wrapped in a blankie. Alone on the sofa with the Seven Samurai. Netflix has just launched in Australia and that really is a reason to party.
There’s more 5 Bad Surfers Right —–> HERE!
Photo Credits: Feature: Getty Images , Clubbing:mm13450121/Flickr, Pills: Cea./Flickr, Nice Shirt: greggman/Flickr, Sleeping Guy: Colby Stopa/Flickr, Hands in the air: 416style/Flickr, Tinnitus: gurucrusher/Flickr, Floor: darkday./Flickr, Man in Blanket: CarbonNYC [in SF!]/Flickr