Clubbed to Death
As you should of a coming of age event, I vividly remember the first time I went clubbing. It was a dirty, grungy, juvenile love-nest of a club and I was an excessively eager bag of insecurities wearing a shiny Burton shirt. I bopped around on the peripheries of the dance floor with an overly-tight grasp of a pint of Strongbow and a limited grasp of club etiquette. The place we were in used to be a factory. In many ways, it still was.
The nerves and sense of anticipation as I approached the doors was palpable. Hearing the throb and the thud of the bass, I tried to pump out my chest and strut past the doormen as if I owned the joint. Embarrassingly, I can remember thinking of the opening scene in Aladdin – descending into the heart of the dessert to find the genie in the bottle.
A few years later, and I’m still doing it. It’s become a kind of tonic now, a necessary catharsis to the grief on Monday. I’m still mixing the medicines and thrashing around like an excitable guinea pig every Friday night. I’ve moved on and up in life since the early days though- I don’t drink Strongbow anymore, don’t wear shiny Burton shirts, and I’ve cut out most of the dribbling. That got a bad press.
I’ve also developed a healthy commitment to experimentation, so when a Cardiff native suggested we go to a club night that didn’t involve music, I was all ears.
As I approached the door, it reminded me of that first night. For the first time, the now reassuring throb and thud of the bass did not greet my arrival and again I felt thrust out of my comfort zone. “There’s no music!” I exclaimed to my fellow reveler. “It’s a silent disco,” they reminded me.
Hosted by the Point in Cardiff Bay, Silent Disco has an immediate novelty appeal. Previously a Church, it’s like a folksy community centre in which a bunch of hippies have been let loose. Fairy lights and tie-dye pictures line the walls, and the original stain glass windows lend an austere spirituality to proceedings.
For those not in the know, a Silent Disco is the same as a disco, except everyone wears their own pair of wireless headphones, each with two channels playing different and often contrasting music.
It’s initially a weird experience, as everyone is dancing to different beats and singing different melodies. But the novelty quickly takes hold and doesn’t let go. It becomes endlessly funny watching someone get all animated and start dancing to one tune, when you’re ensconced in the middle of another. Two DJs are based on the stage and compete for listeners. Revelers come decked out in fake Ray-Bans and ornamental head-gear. Despite this, there is no hint of the posing and peacock feathers that can afflict other clubs, and only adds to the slightly farcical, very carnival sense of occasion.
The biggest advantage, of course, is there is always the option of removing your earphones and talking to your neighbour, which, for those well-versed in this form of hedonism, is a whole new novelty in itself.
The first time I went clubbing, it felt as if I had suddenly joined a new family. A slightly more fluid, slightly less responsible outfit than my real family, but the sense of belonging was just the same. The Silent Disco, in its own left-field way, succeeded in reminding me of that silent bond.