As soon as I open the photos, every fibre of my being screams that I should shut down Google Chrome, hurl my laptop into the bin and then set fire to the kitchen. Yet I find myself inexorably drawn back to the Facebook album entitled “LADYS NITE @ SHITTY PROVINCIAL CLUB”.
The image which is seared permanently on my retinas is a tableau of despair and whipped cream. It is impossible to accurately guess the age of the male stripper who fills the bulk of the frame: his hairless torso and barbed-wire tattoo put him in his early thirties, but he has the sagging jowls of a man twice as old again and his cold, fishlike eyes are filled with millennia of misery. He is naked, his penis hanging limp like the last Bratwurst in the butcher’s shop. A canister in his hand, he has evidently just finished covering this (admittedly impressive organ) in Mr Whippy’s Own-Brand Cream. This is night-club photography as reimagined by Francis Bacon; saggy, fleshy, entirely devoid of hope.
As a whole, the album is a Dantean descent into a 21st-century inferno of WKD, inflated condoms and grotesquely veiny dildos. It would be nice to see the night as a celebration of liberated, modern female sexuality, to interpret the dance a nuanced piece of post-modern performance art critiquing traditional notions of masculinity. But the vaguely haunted look in the eyes of the female punters and the palpable despair of the stripper speak for themselves. No-one is being liberated here. It would be a terrible dereliction of my integrity as Culture Editor to name Central Square Nightclub in Newport as responsible for this god-forsaken evening of entertainment, so I won’t. Happy New Year.