Some people go to clubs to drink, some to pick people up. Some of us go to dance. I fall into the last category, although obviously I like to drink as well.
If I was told I couldn't drink, I'd still go to clubs. If I wasn't allowed to dance, I'd stay at home. It's one of the reasons I hate high heels (the other one being that everyone expects me to love shoes because women love shoes. Try finding a birthday card to give a woman which does not have a picture of a stiletto on it).
To be fair, I do like nice shoes. But I like being able to walk and dance much more, so I restrict my purchases to flats and the occasional inch-high heel. I'm also a big fan of the stompy biker boot, or perhaps an eye-catching trainer.
Amanda, Sally, Jena and Gin all love high heels, but for very different reasons. Amanda, who is over six feet, wears them simply to make her height even more intimidating. Sally wears them because she lives her image so intensely that she has to; high heels are part of the look she has created for herself. I suspect Gin and Jena love them because women love shoes.
It's so loud in here that I feel immersed, as if I'm swimming in music. The bass vibrates up through the soles of my feet and through my body. Once I was at a CSS gig which was so loud I saw a soundwave come out of the speaker. I saw the rest of the people around me vibrate for a moment in time to the music and I felt it pass through me, making my heart beat out of rhythm for a second and jangling my bones. I'm not sure if this is even possible. My right ear echoed with a high thin whine, like a mosquito, for the next three days.
That was a little too loud.
It's both comforting and exhilarating to feel submerged in sound like this. This is one of my favourite songs, Radio Activity by Kraftwerk. The reason I love this particular club night is because it specialises in 70s and 80s alternative - punk, post-punk, new wave - which is one of my pet genres. It only happens once every three months or so, but it's the only chance I ever get to dance to bands like Bauhaus, Gary Numan and the Psychedelic Furs and I look forward to it for days when I know it's coming up. Tonight, especially, I needed it. It's been a week and a half of fear and depression, but the pills are finally kicking in and the river of sound surrounding me sweeps everything away.
Tonight Amanda could make it (she's not all that into the music, but she likes the general Gothy atmosphere and the abundance of heavily-pierced metal boys dancing without shirts) but I have been known to come here on my own if no-one else is free. Just to dance, just for a couple of hours.
However, it's astonishing how upset people get by the concept of a woman going to a club on her own, so I don't usually tell them I do this. Most men are not worried, probably because men are used to the idea of being able to go to places on their own if the fancy takes them. But other women get genuinely distressed and upset. They visualise rapists, abductions, murder. The truth is that if you take routine safety precautions and don't get drunk you're going to be fine.
But I don't like to upset them. There's a lot of things I don't talk to most other women about because I'm afraid I'll upset them; my taste for porn, my intense desire to shave my head and have my skull tattooed with butterflies, my views on high heeled shoes. I lie to them about going to the taxi rank so I can walk home on my own without getting a hysterical phone call the next morning because I forgot to text them to say I was back.
The great thing about my friends (my really close friends, I mean; Amanda, Gin and Sally) is that I can talk to them about all of these things and more. I'm lucky to have them.
I look over at Amanda. She is by the bar, towering over the people around her. She's wearing white shoes decorated with a delicate sketch of an skull at the heart of a rose, and a white corset over a froth of white lace skirts ending at the knee. A pearl choker is clasped round her neck and there are white ribbons threaded through her blonde curls. Just about everyone else in the room is wearing black. This means that Amanda has managed to make all the other women in the room look like her backing singers, simply by making a clever colour choice. It makes me smile every time I look at her from a distance.