K Bar, for some reason, was shut. This was a normal occurence on campus, though I never understood why it happened. As far as I knew, Kent Union—the body of students who work the various bars and shops on campus—have an army on hand, so it clearly was nothing to to do with a staff shortage. My best guess was that, some nights, the student populace decided they’d go through and ravage the town bars instead of the campus bars, the staff at one of the bars would get bored, and everything would shut down a couple hours early.
It’s understandable, and, frankly, I don’t view not being able to drink at a bar as one of the worst possible things in life. I’d put it somewhere in between running out of milk and waking up late. For The Drunkard, though, you’d think that his house was carpet bombed. We walked through Keynes college and he grew serious. “There’s no noise,” he said.
There was noise, it was just the humming of vending machines instead of the cacaphony of drunk freshers that we were used to hearing in the corridor. “Okay,” said The Traveler. “It might be a quiet night.”
The Drunkard whirled on The Traveler. His eyes were bulging and red-veined. “Don’t patronize me. You know the sound of a quiet bar. You’ve probably been to more quiet bars than there are in the entirety of Tennessee. This is not a quiet bar sound.”
“Dude,” I said.
“No!” he said, running towards the bar. We stood in place, and then his exclamation was echoed, but louder, and with more rage than I thought he had in him. (Also, I was pretty confused as to why he was surprised. We’d gone through this four times before. Granted, his reaction was the same every time, but I figured there had to be a time when he’d stop being surprised.)
“Give him a minute,” said The Traveler. “This is like The Student and seeing the OUP, isn’t it?”
“Seems like it,” I said.
“We can go to Mungo’s,” said Zaf.
“Yeah,” said The Traveler.
“Let’s hope there aren’t bouncers at the place, or he might go on a rampage.”
The Drunkard slunk back towards us and said, “I hate this country.”
“We’re going to Mungo’s,” I said.
“If there are bouncers, I will go on a rampage.”
“Stop complaining,” said The Traveler.
The Drunkard nodded. “Fair call.”
Halfway to Mungo’s from Keynes, in front of the ATM machines near the campus shop, I was attacked by Laura, semi-drunk and in a dress. There was a banquet or something (I briefly caught something about “Chorus”) that a few people from the society had went to. Wine was drunk and, well, in her words: “I met a friend of Topol. I have Topol’s phone number. Look.”
She showed me the phone. There was a number with “Topol” in front of it. “Hey cool.”
“No, it’s fab,” she said, grinning madly. “Topol might come to see the show.”
I gulped. In a split second, every neurotic neuron in my brain existed for the sole function of showing me flailing on some stage while, in the audience, Topol, still reveling in the glow of a successful thirty-some odd year gig as Tevye, laughed—possibly curling his white beard in triumph as yet another amateur failed to live up to the standard of Broadway. “Woo!” I said, cleverly masking terror behind enthusiasm.
“We’re going to Mungo’s, come with us,” she said.
“Tevye!” one of the other people—a man covered in enough disturbingly thick hair to put Sasquatch to shame, named Kane—shouted. “Woo!”
“Woo!” I said. Communicating with drunks was the easiest thing in the world—all you have to do is muster up some enthusiasm. “Yeah,” I said, “we were about to head over there and—”
“Shit,” said The Traveler.
“What?” I asked, spinning around. I didn’t get to talk to pretty women in dresses that much, and, damn it, he was furthering the streak.
“I don’t have my I.D. card.”
“How can you not have your card?” asked The Drunkard. “It’s the simpl—shit.”
“You forgot yours, too?” I asked.
The Drunkard nodded.
“I can’t belie—” I remembered that I left both my bus pass and my I.D. in my room back at Woolf. “Shit.”
“Ha,” said The Drunkard.
I turned back to Laura and said, “Okay, we’ll meet you there.”
“Fab, here’s my number.” I saved it into my phone and the lot of us headed back to Woolf.
“Giannis,” I said, “you forgot your card?”
“No,” he said.
“Then why are you coming?”
He shrugged. “I can’t understand the English accent. I like the American better, too.”
“Fuckin a,” said The Drunkard. “U.S.A.! U.S.A.!”
So, anyway, we got the cards went back to Mungos, curved through the corridors, down some stairs, and I ran into Kane on the stairwell leading to the bar. “Tevye!” he shouted. “Woo!”
“Woo!” I said. Once again, enthusiasm. “Where are you guys going?”
“The Venue. Mungo’s is too packed. Come on, man.” He pushed past, followed by the rest of the group.
Not missing a beat, The Drunkard pushed me up the stairs, followed by The Traveler and Zaf. “Woah,” I said, “what’s with the pushing?”
“You won’t go otherwise,” he said.
“Yeah I would.”
“My ass. And you’re not sitting around the flat tonight. Especially when—Jesus you have some hotties in that society. You see that one girl with the hair up there? Fuckin hell, Narrator; I should’ve tried out for this play.”
Now, The Drunkard wasn’t that far off. Given the choice of staying in or going to a club, I would have chosen to stay in. It is a wonder that generations of genes have resulted in someone like me, who would rather stay in at ngiht than go out with peers of my own age to a place where getting laid is as easy as going to sleep in a comfortable bed. But, hey, moving on:
We walked up to the outside of The Venue—which, until now, I have not had occasion to describe. The Venue was in a building made up of the main club and a bar on the top level called The Lighthouse. The Lighthouse almost reminded me of a cafeteria in an office building: It had one long glass wall facing out to some trees. The chairs in the place were of a shoddy plastic material with equally flimsy metal chairs around them. A couple black leather sofas were in the middle of the lounge, but, judging from the rips in them, they had seen better days. By far, the best-kept pieces of furniture in the place were the pool tables. Those, of course, were in constant use. The bar, about twenty feet long, was painted a shiny black, and the taps were a highly-polished silver color. To one side of the lounge was the creatively named eatery, The Kitchen. There, they served disgusting amounts of chips and half-decent burgers.
The Venue itself was made up of two levels. On the entrance-level floor was the sign-in desk and the place where you were searched if you looked at all suspicious. I’ve gone to that place about four or five times and, without fail, I’ve been searched every time—despite repeatedly being told from anyone between the ages of five and seventy that I am the least intimidating man they’ve ever met. (Once, a sixty-eight year old man in khaki shorts, a sweater-vest, and an Astros baseball cap told me that he could kick my ass.) In fact, at The Venue, I have seen some people who looked like they were on the prowl to start a fight; yet they were not stopped at the door. The last time I went, I took it for granted that I was going to be searched and just walked over to the security guy inside and assumed the position. I guess it’s the beard.
Anyway, also on that level is a small bar with a few taps. Mostly, though that level is used for collecting the cover charge, searching, and providing an entrance and exit from the place. If you go through a set of double doors, you come upon the bar and a very small landing overlooking the main dance floor downstairs. I kind of like this area, because, when you stand on it and look down at the people below you, entranced by whatever it is that makes them interested in electronic music, drum and bass, club rap, gan—you know the fare, you get a brief wave of power. Or maybe it’s just me who stands there and feels like they’re Lex Luthor or Dr. Doom. Probably just me.
The dance floor is massive. Of course, I don’t go to clubs, so my frame of reference might be a bit skewed—and then there’s the problem of judging distance and size when inebriated, so really, it might be tiny. At any rate: It’s big enough to comfortably fit a lot of people. There is a main bar which, generally, has a three-deep line and a shot bar tucked away to the side which, not particularly surprisingly, also usually has a three-deep line. At the front of the dance floor is a stage.
We walked in the Venue, I grumbled about having to pay five quid, and The Drunkard told me to shut up and that he’d buy me a shot for my trouble. I duly shut up, we all walked downstairs to the main floor, and I proceeded to get absolutely hammered. It was one of the rare nights where there wasn’t much of a line for drinks, so The Drunkard and I essentially set up shop at a part of the bar and refused to leave until we were appropriately drunk. Six shots of Jack and two of SoCo later, The Drunkard shot off into the dance floor to hunt down, “that girl with the hair.” I don’t know who he was talking about, as all the girls in the society have hair. I didn’t see him again for the rest of the night, so I’m assuming he had fun. The Traveler and Giannis went off to the side, where there were some chairs, sofas, and some people chilling out and milling around, and found some Italian and Turkish friends of his. I saw The Traveler from time to time, mostly flirting with some dark-haired, dark-skinned girls, and he looked like he was having fun.
Now, what did I do, you may be wondering? I did what I usually do in that sort of situation where I’m at a loud environment with music I hate, a lot of alcohol in my system, and the idea that maybe, just maybe, I could impress some girls: I flailed on the dance floor with reckless abandon. I mean that. I flail. I do not dance. I was talking to the choreographer of the play recently, and he told me that, at the first dance rehearsal, when I couldn’t step in time to the music, he was filled with mortal fear. For some reason, I lack all self-awareness and move in ways that... well, I’m good for a laugh, but I won’t be attracting any women with it.
And, as could be expected, I didn’t attract any women with my moves that night. Eventually, I broke off from the Musical Theatre people, who were off in their own world really feeling “Wonderwall,” and found The Traveler and Zaf. That may be the best thing about a club atmosphere: There are so many people around that, if it transpires that you want to hang around other people, it’s profoundly easy.
Anywho, the night came to a close, we headed back to Woolf, and I slept.