I started dancing at clubs when I was 15 in Houston. The first club I ever went to was Numbers. My boyfriend, Tim, was 21 at the time. I had met him while performing at the Rocky Horror Picture Show. I didn’t have a lot of supervision in high school.
Before Numbers, I never really knew there we places where you could go and just dance by yourself without everyone staring at you. And I loved to dance, so much. I was on the dance team in high school and had been performing in musicals since I was 9 years old. But at Numbers they played darker stuff, harder and more flowy both. It was my introduction to 80s dance music, synths, goth, industrial, everything.
I vividly remember sitting out on the patio in the back chain-smoking at 16. I think it was New Year’s Eve. Through the club influence I dyed my hair black and started wearing all black clothing. Fishnets, ripped shirts, long skirts, big boots, all of it. I would go to school with heavy black eyeliner all over my face. I adored The Crow and saw it in the theater, and it’s sequel (City of Angels, which nobody else saw, it seems.) Everything was so dramatic and wonderful. My conversion to goth girl was total and complete.
Over 20 years later, you can still find me out on the dance floor. I guess I’m still just a big goth kid at heart. I’ve come full circle, in a way. When I first started going to club I didn’t drink or smoke, and these days it is much the same. In fact, the only time I even think about cigarettes is when I’ve had too much to drink. I quit years ago, several times, and I think it is finally sticking. It was so hard to quit after smoking for so long, and I am proud of myself.
I think about all the years in the middle, the long nights of dancing and revelry that I don’t even remember. I started drinking after I moved to San Diego in 2001. I was 20 when I got to Southern California, and the only people I knew here were folks I knew online from playing video games. I arrived utterly alone, with a suitcase and a computer and a severe MMO addiction.
Through the magic of LiveJournal, video games, and Comic-Con, I started hearing about events in San Diego. Shortly after moving here, I attended my first X-Sanguin party and met The Brotherhood and so many people that would become my friends over the next 10 years. I also started attending the local 80s night at Shooters regularly. It was there that I found my home on the dance floor again. I discovered there were goth nights! There was Therapy, and Sabbat, and eventually Club de Sade, and several others.
I’m pretty terrible at making friends. I go places alone and desperately avoid eye contact with people, trying to shrink into the walls. But these people really never let me do that. They bought me drinks, smoked with me, talked to me. It was the weirdest thing. I felt so welcome in San Diego.
One of the greatest things about San Diego is that it isn’t Los Angeles. But one day one of my bestest friends had to move up there for school. I started driving up on the weekends to go clubbing at Das Bunker in LA. I had never seen an industrial club like Bunker, and Franck was such a welcoming host. We drank Red Bull and vodka into the wee hours, then gorged on Doomie’s tacos before attemping the drive back to whoever’s house we were crashing at that night.
LA had other clubs, too. Malediction Society, and Bar Sinister, then there was Infirmary in Garden Grove. We went to all of them. I probably spent more time dancing and drinking than doing anything else in my 20s, besides working. And I worked A LOT at a high-stress job, so I felt I deserved the fun.
The drinking definitely was becoming a problem, though. I couldn’t go out without having at least a few drinks. Usually it involved pre-drinking, followed by drinking at club, then of course there were the after-parties. I would usually get back to San Diego just in time to make it to work on Monday. During the week, I started downing a bottle of wine a night while playing my games.
My social anxiety was so high, and then my depression was so low, that all I wanted to do was drink. Even now, when I am nervous, I want to hide behind alcohol. I have to constantly remind myself how depressed all that drinking makes me, how expensive it is, and how bad it is for me. Thankfully, that is usually enough. I still have the occasional drunken night, but it’s more like a few times a year than a few times a week.
So you know, when you’re at the club all by yourself having a drink and watching the dancers, too shy to get out there – know that it’s okay. I’ve been there, and so has just about everyone else. I’ve always felt at home among the freaks, mostly because they are the nicest people with the biggest hearts that lack the judgment I always seemed to face in Texas.
When my daughter is old enough to start going to clubs, I hope I remember all the good times that I had. I made friendships that have endured the test of time. We did a lot of stupid shit, but almost everyone survived. When I’m out somewhere and I hear Wolfsheim or VNV Nation or Aesthetic Perfection or Front Line Assembly or Front 242, hell, even Skinny Puppy, all I remember is the good times. Everything else fades away. Music is a great healer, and dancing is good for you. Never let anyone tell you that you are wasting your time by going dancing. Sometimes it’s the only good thing.