I’ve started to really hate loud noises. Noises, in my case, don’t just apply to sounds that nearly everybody on the face of the earth will acknowledge are unpleasant. Anything loud can drive me mad most of the time. It’s funny, really, considering how I spent a considerable amount of the better part of my twenties in dive bars and little gig houses, watching friends and favorites perform up close, sometimes standing right beside gigantic speakers that blast directly into my ears. But now that I’m just a year shy of the big three zero, all I’ve cared to do is stay home and binge-watch HGTV and YouTube videos on Friday nights, which may or may not have affected my threshold for booming bass lines.
So imagine how I must’ve looked and felt when a very young, very much underage cousin of mine, visiting from the UK asked me and a few other available cousins to accompany him to a pretty popular club to see his fellow UK-born mates. I went partly because I was bored, but mostly out of sheer curiosity. I’d only been to the same place once before, for a press event during the day, and I had the time, so why not?
Each step I took down towards the main area felt like a literal descent to hell. The pulsing red lights made everything seem like they were ablaze, and the air was muggy thanks to the pool water and body heat radiating off of the crowd. Honestly, why on earth would anybody want to go dancing in a place with no air conditioning? And also, how hygienic is that pool? I stood still for a moment taking everything in, clad in all black, sweat forming above my brow.
Even though I once worked for a magazine that caters to the younger end of the millennial spectrum and am more or less familiar with colloquialisms like “fuccboi” and “AF,” popular memes and viral videos, and trends like Kylie Jenner lip kits (although I still am not entirely sure what dabbing is), there was still this gnawing feeling in the back of my head—a fear that how I act will come off completely antiquated despite my best efforts. Hilarious, really, considering that at my age, I’m supposed to be somewhat over the whole wanting to be cool thing. At the same time, it’s not like I’m decades older.
But a moment of honesty to explain the melodrama: Kids these days scare me. Sometimes it’s very obvious how hard they try to look unbearably hip, but for the most part they just are. And it’s intimidating and fascinating at the same time.
The night wasn’t so bad. I spent a lot of my time looking around, watching people. You have to admit, if there’s one thing kids got right, it’s how sneakers are suddenly totally acceptable footwear in clubs. I remember those freak occurrences a few years back when I’d find myself out with friends at Embassy (LOL) and similar places, and seeing dress codes that state women be denied entry if they weren’t in heels. As if high heels are the best fit for dancing.
And when I did attempt to dance, my body’s first instinct was to reenact that one move Mia Thermopolis did pre-transformation in The Princess Diaries.
Obviously, I didn’t because I’m not that socially inept. One of the most valuable things I took away from working at Scout Magazine was the constant exposure to current youth culture trends that still helps hold me back from embarrassing myself whenever I step foot in places where people go to be seen (…most of the time, anyway). I know how to keep my inner freak to myself, so I kept to mild hip swaying and subtle shimmying while I let my eyes roam and my ears zone in on random bits of conversation like a proper creeper.
One thing hasn’t changed much over the years, though. It’s the dynamics between boys and girls.
There’s definitely more than a handful who are much less conservative and much more fearless than most Filipinos, easily gliding towards attractive strangers with less than innocent intentions. For the most part there are still groups of girls shyly eyeing groups of boys from the other end of the room, waiting to be approached. It’s pretty cute until some of the said boys go up to you, mistaking you for someone their age when they couldn’t be more wrong. Not to be ageist, but even in places where you need to shout to be heard, conversations and shared interests still matter a lot. Or maybe I just have different priorities.
Best part of the night, in between all sorts of fun or awkward situations, goes to when I was able to get a seat and order sushi. Think about that! They serve sushi in a club! I can’t say it was amazing—overpriced, sure—but partnered with a proper chair in an environment filled with elements that naturally make me uncomfortable, it was almost like manna, especially with the amount of alcohol coursing through my system. Lemme tell you, kids these days can drink like crazy and it’s a mortal mistake to try and keep up…which I stupidly did.
I woke up feeling half dead with my mouth dry, as if a furry creature decided to nestle in my throat during the night and died there. Living on the 30th floor with undrawn blinds and no high rises beside my building to block the sun, the brightness burned a hole in my corneas and beyond and I am now blinded forever.
…just kidding, but it sure felt that way.
Unnecessary jokes aside, that morning made me miss the days when I was much younger with the vitality to knock back a couple of drinks at night and still attend early morning classes the next day. Besides the insane light sensitivity, my head felt like a walnut cracked into a million pieces. I couldn’t keep my food down and it took me an entire day to recover, embarrassingly enough.
There’s nothing wrong with clubbing, honestly. I know a number of people my age and older who still party frequently and look like they can go on forever with the same lifestyle. Different strokes for different folks, I guess, and while I’d rather avoid clubbing, I wouldn’t be entirely opposed to going out again—but only after a sh*t ton of mental conditioning and with people around the same age who go through things around the same pace. After all, anything is fine with the right company, and the right company will definitely stop you from drinking yourself to oblivion.
I’ve never been the type of person to fear aging, never been the type to try to hold on to my youth desperately, so reliving that night and the morning after makes me even more sure that my life’s current trajectory towards cat-ladyness isn’t all that bad. If anything, deciding to not actively go after such “youthful pursuits” makes me realize that I’m not necessarily putting fun behind me; rather, the place I am at is merely a transition towards a different kind of fun. Right now, Chef’s Table on Netflix is calling me. Let me grab an ice-cold beer and make this a real party.
Disclaimer: The views expressed here are solely those of the author in her private capacity and do not in any way represent the views of Preen.ph, or any other entity of the Inquirer Group of Companies.
Art by Dorothy Guya