After choosing to watch my beloved Arsenal slip to another disappointing home result instead of watching the Boat Race with my friends, I arrived late to pre-drinks with only a tepid Emirates lager (a steal at £4.60 for a Carlsberg) in my system. As Pimms-fuelled shouts of ‘dodger’ were hurled at me—deeply unjustified considering my exemplary Cellar attendance in Hilary—I realised I was in for a long night.
Sober, exhausted, and disgusted at myself for having paid £15 (plus booking fee) for a ticket, I hoped that it was only the egregiously long queue that had caused Embargo República to be sold to me by my London friends as ‘The Bridge of the King’s Road’. These hopes were soon to be shattered. Indeed, after my fears that literally everyone from my boarding school years would be present were confirmed, I realised that my points of refuge were limited.
The bar—with its £10 drink offers—was unappealing. Ten minutes’ worth of secondhand Marlboro Gold smoke later, it hit me that my solitary remaining option was the one I feared most: the dancefloor.
Catching the eye of Encore Events’ Ollie East, armed with his beloved ‘Throwback Hits’ Spotify playlist, I soon recognised the familiar cocktail of acute social embarrassment and mild self-loathing take over, trying as I did to look like I was enjoying The Killers’ ‘Mr Brightside’ for the 14th time that term.
And yet somehow, when the lights came on some 80 minutes before the scheduled close, I found myself disappointed that the night was over. There was such an acceptance amongst those in ‘Bargs’ that their big Sunday night out would be tragic that somehow, it had become almost enjoyable.
Two night buses later, I lay on the spare mattress on the crippling uncomfortable floor of my college wife’s house, reflecting on the fact I had become the sort of person who likes the kind of night I had just attended. To paraphrase that old sage, Mark Corrigan: “A little bit of me had died—but a lot of me didn’t give a shit.”