(it does mean ‘greater than’ that way around, right?)
I’ve tried to get into the young-people-having-a-good-time-dancing-at-clubs-and-singing-at-karaoke scene, I really have; I’ve been to bars, gigs and welcome parties involving alcohol every night this week, and I’ve tried talking to people or making new friends, but I’m simply not that interested in those sorts of places. Give me a quiet room to watch Bake-Off in any day over a bar full of slightly drunk young people (I think I’m secretly 54 years old).
So to rectify my apparent inability to interact with 99% of people my age, I’ve decided to sign up for around 547,923 societies, ranging from Hiking to Gender and Feminism; I don’t expect I’ll keep up all these societies for the remainder of the year – if anything because football and rugby will be a hundred quid between them, which is painful – but I’m far more excited to meet new people and make friends at these events than gigs and bars.
And it’s not that I hate bars and stuff, I just don’t really fit into that scene; I like to get to know people by talking to them, sometimes over a meal, and preferably on the steps of a youth hostel at one in the morning (my favourite thing I’ve done at UCL so far), rather than forming bonds of trust and companionship through mutual embarrassment during karaoke nights. And some of the societies I’ve joined – like Gender, to the magazine I’d like to write for – are based almost entirely around sitting down in a quiet room talking about things; important things undoubtedly, but the emphasis is on the talking, which I quite like doing.
Also bars are painfully mono-cultured, in that they all play the same kinds of music, creating very similar atmospheres. I know that I’ll struggle to find a place that plays Lordi and serves Supermonstar-themed cocktails in the UK, but it is a little upsetting, even for the most aggressively anti-mainstream person, to be the only one out of a hundred people in a bar not able to sing along to ABBA. The most obscure song at last night’s karaoke was Pretty Fly (For a White Guy) for God’s sake, and even Weird Al’s done a parody of that!
So while some people will be able to find differences between places for nights out – especially in terms of the drinks available, which I’m not so much obscure in my tastes in as categorically oblivious to – I don’t; I once asked my Dad while all music from the 1930s and 40s sounded similar, to which he sagely replied that any two bits of the same culture will appear similar to those not interested in that culture, because they’ve not experienced the small differences between them. And it works for me – you might be able to pick out what’s a good club by its setlist, but I’d struggle to differentiate between Garage, Hip-Hop and House music without some kind of vocab test in advance.
The irony, of course, is that I’m ultimately looking for non-clubbing people in clubbing places; I’d love to find other introverted folks who like the quiet, but I’m hanging out in the most extrovert-friendly of places. And I wouldn’t know where to start looking for other reserved people, short of knocking on random doors in my student house and asking people if they’d like to watch Naruto with me.
This is where societies are so helpful, as they unite people based on interest, rather than the clubbing scene which unites people based solely on the fact that they’re old enough to have suitable ID. And I won’t know enough about Lord Of The Rings to get all the jokes in the Sci-Fi and Fantasy Society, and I’ll struggle to make even the fourths for the rugby team, but I’ll be going somewhere other than another bloody bar.
And I don’t give a frak if that makes me a sad bastard.