© Keith Waddington 1998

Over the Edge: An Alternative Night Out

An Occasional Feature for Special Occasions

The subject this time is a good night out; or, Proper Use of the Suffix “ness.”

Even Alternative dudes need a good night out. We have our Alternative outfits, our Alternative hats and our Alternative matching booties. We even walk with a kind of Alternative gait. And of course, we hang out in Alternative hang-outs.

Last August evening, out I went with one of my Alternative friends, thinking very little and expecting even less. We hit the gay village. It hit back. Almost at once I realised that something was afoot. I even suspected something was a hand and several things were an elbow.

So we gaited into a bar. Inside, everyone was exceptionally gay. Damn it, they were more than gay: they were positively happy. Some fellow came up to me and tried to impress me with his happiness. Well, what I mean is, he tried to press his happiness against me. There was far too much gayness and happiness every where. It was then that I realised that a good alternative night out requires a bit of happinesslessness.

We left the scene and gaited up to the Quartier Latin, passing several gates on the way. And then we came to one of those mega-dance-clubs. The place was larger than one of those large things with a large sign on the outside that reads “Large” and is known by a large number of people to be large. Lucky, I thought, we live in a large country with hardly any stuff in it. A dozen dance floors of different styles. The first one we checked out was playing industrial-goth. Unfortunately, I work in a factory and my friend dresses like a vampire. The second was African-World beat. Too bad, on that very night the world beat Africa 1-0. Finally, to the sophisticated sound of hip-hop, I hit the dance floor. It hit back. And then, all of a sudden, I thought, “What is this dance thing? Why am I moving all my body parts without actually knowing where they’re going?” It was then that I realised that a good alternative night out requires a bit of motionlessness.

Desperate, we gaited into a Pool bar on Saint Catherine. With a self-confessed fondness for water sports, I realised I’d forgotten to bring my swimming trunks. In any case, it was then that I realised that a good alternative night out requires a bit of wetlessness.

Increasingly desperate, we gaited to a popular and famous “Irish Pub.” The place presented itself as the genuine article, though I’d add a few dangling modifiers myself. I mean, come on: in Ireland there’s no tipping, so what the hell am I doing leaving a tip? It was a sobering reality bordering on ontological inebriation that this pub was about as Irish as a rabid haggis. To make matters worse, the live music started up. Two fellas--whose great grandfathers once went on holiday to Dublin--started strumming guitars and playing the spoons. Unfortunately, I was eating a bowl of soup with one of them. They played a jig. And then they played another jig that sounded like the first jig. And then they played a ballad that sounded like the first two jigs. I have a feeling that all Irish music is actually the same song--though I could be wrong. It was then that I realised that a good alternative night out requires a bit of same songlessness.

A Cyber cafe where I had some virtual coffee that was virtually tea. It was then that I realised that a good alternative night out requires a bit of virtualessness.

Now, my grandfather once told me that in the old days, people would go out and talk to each other. Of course, I never listened to him. But, now I come to think of it, with all that provocative happiness, noisy musicness and exhausting dancingness, that same songness, splashiness and unrealisticness: with all the hideousness that we call entertainmentness, maybe it’s time to find a quiet little pub and actually communicate with each other. You know, chit-chat. Unfortunately, the UK’s a long way to go for a quiet pint, and the late night bus home is notoriously unreliable. So, if you’re in a position of knowingness, and have the precise co-ordinates of a nice quiet local watering-hole where chit-chat isn’t viewed as pointlessness, be generous and tell me and my grandadness.