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My First Night Club

The mother of my au pair family has a sister about my age. Mid-December she came for a visit and asked me a question before she left. I understood only some of the words. Möchtest du. Cousine. Feiern.

Basically, I was being invited to go to a party with her and her cousin for Christmas. And they knew absolutely no details, not even the time. But, the idea of getting out and spending time with people my age was appealing. Plus, she seemed like a nice person.

So I said, "Yes."

I mean, I've been to many, many parties. So why should I have worried?
On the day of, I was asked if I drink. I said no. 
"Great! You can be the designated driver." 

I was fine with that. Some people might be bothered hanging out with others that drink, but I'm afraid I've become "desensitized" to that long ago. Personally, I don't see the pull, but if others want it they can have it. And if they are going to have it I'd much rather be the one behind the wheel. 

So, still not sure what sort of party it would be, I dressed nice toning it down with some wild hair and hippie jewelry. Then I drove, picking up first a girl I'd never met, and went to the house of the girl who'd invited me. 

Let's just say, the language was still a barrier. I understand more than I had. But still not enough. I was a bit surprised that it was only the three of us girls there. Maybe, I thought, a party to them meant just something quiet and fun with a beer and a board game. 

We made dinner and ate it. 
They drank beer. One, two, three, each. 
They spoke, I listened. As the night progressed they opened up a lot and we conversed in a smattering of English and German, and I got to know the girls better, what they liked and did, and that the girl I'd picked up was a lesbian. I wasn't actually shocked, as I at first thought I might be. And I still viewed her the same the rest of the evening: as a nice girl who seemed to be hurting and searching over a lot more than her mother's recent death. 

After her third beer, we started talking about different styles of dancing. 

"We are going to a club ... or is it disco in English?"

"I don't know," I said. Not because I didn't know the word, but because I wasn't sure what she meant. Surely ... she didn't mean like a bar club? 

But then ... maybe she did. 

"It's a place with four different areas of dancing. Hip-hop, electro, alternative, and another alternative." 

"Oh, sounds fine. But I thought you didn't like dancing?" I said to the girl who'd just mentioned a gift her girl-friend had made her. 

"I don't. But it's okay when I'm with my cousin."


We left, they with their beers and me with the car keys. We drove a good twenty minutes. As we pulled up I could smell it. And hear it. Loud, stinky, crowded. A guy was outside urinating. And then another. Beer bottles were everywhere. 

I parked the car, and we walked to the entrance. 

To myself, I was thinking, "This is going to be a crazy night."

Some would have turned around, their conscience warning them. Some would have plodded on, resolute to be a witness. Many would have continued to go too scared to offend their new friends or make themselves look like a weirdo. More would have been dreadfully curious to have this sort of experience and may have decided to go all-in, just for a night, to know what the hype is like. 

Me? I don't know why I showed my passport, paid the eight euros, and walked into hell. 

I definitely wasn't breaking any consciousness. I'm afraid I had no thoughts of being a witness. I could care less about what these girls thought of me, or anyone. I do what I want and believe regardless of others. And I didn't really have that strong of a desire to experience any of this. My curiosity was zilch.

Maybe it was simply this: I knew there was a language barrier, and I wouldn't have agreed to go if I'd first understood. But I had agreed to go, and so here I was. I'd go through it, make sure we all stayed together, and see what became of the night. Maybe it wouldn't be so bad. 

And it wasn't so bad. 
It was tragically sad. 
Perhaps the saddest thing I'd ever witnessed. 

Imagine all these long buildings and compartments connected together, dirty pavements between, everything so dimly lit, just bright enough to see bodies sensually arrayed. Every crook and cranny is crowded with young people, all holding beers, all swaying in some idiotic way that looks neither beautiful nor sexy, but more contrived. People moving from crowded corner to crowded corner. 


"Best friends" hugging, yelling in each other's ears because the music is too loud for real conversation. The yelling words are also contrived, meaningless. And the breath that comes with every word stenches of drunk immaturity. 

"How can anyone find anyone attractive here?" I thought. "Everyone is being disgusting. No one is laughing."

Girls would go to guys and hug them and play with their arms, only to say hi, before going to a new guy. Guys would bend down and ask questions designed to start conversations. But conversations die in the chaos of music and a multitude of other desperate shouts for attention. Or maybe it was because in order to be heard they had to connect lips to ears, and their breath was offputting. 

No one is happy, just drunk and drinking more and looking to have a good time but utterly unsure what a good time even is or looks like. 

The girl who invited me seemed to know many, many guys. "She has a lot of friends," I said to the girl who had a girlfriend. 

She told me of her cousin, "And they all like her. I don't understand men. They are so stupid. See that one? He used to like her. And that one, too. I think he still likes her even though she has a boyfriend. Why can't men ever just be friends with girls without liking them more? I think that upsets her a lot because she wants to just be friends with everyone. Don't you think girls are better at being friends than guys?"

"I think girls are the same way," I said.

"True. But more guys. Seven or eight out of ten guys want more, and only three or four out of ten girls, I think. I should write a college paper on it, don't you think."


I didn't really want to yell out my real opinion, that what all of these people needed was God first and then just one good girl or guy. Someone to experience the real stenches of life with. Someone who knew what it meant to dance and laugh. But first, God. First to know what it meant to be truly joyful.

We played table soccer for a bit and that was very fun. The other team won one round, and we won the next round. You had to pay for the balls. Coins fell on the floor. That's when I noticed there were coins all over the place. 

"If I ever go back to a club," I decided later. "It would be to search for coins."
I'd probably come away rich. Who knows. 

There wasn't anything else to do, and since that cost money, we didn't play for long. We walked from room to room, maybe pretended to dance, visited the restrooms often, got crushed between moving strangers, and hurried through areas where the people had a little more than just beer. 

Everyone had the same droopy look in their eyes, the same stretched smile, the same awkward dancing rotations. Sad. That's what I saw the whole time. Sad people pretending they really enjoyed it, drinking more so that they might enjoy it, or believe they enjoyed it. 

I don't usually drink soda, but the girls offered to buy it for me, and I accepted it as I needed to stay awake. 

"Designated driver?" A guy asked me. 
(the idea of actually being alcohol-free isn't completely foreign to Germans as Muslims don't drink, but otherwise, it would never cross their mind as that being the actual reason I was holding a coke)

"Yes," I said, feeling no need to divulge more information. 

"What country are you from?" 


"I was in the military there for a few months—" he tells me which states he visited, shows me a picture of an old jeep he bought there, and another picture of his uniform. 

"Very neat," I say honestly, but not too enthusiastically. I hate being rude ... but I'm also not interested in having a conversation with a drunk guy who has to yell in my ear in order to be heard. The sad thing is in the day time we could have possibly had a great conversation and he could have possibly been a fun, nice guy. 

Or was I being self-righteous to have been offended by his breath? To pull away, a tad uncomfortable? To be honest, I'm not sure.

I'm afraid I was rude to all the guys there. It's not that I judged them (maybe I did), but I also like my personal space and I like to breathe fresh air. It's not that I hate guys, as my lesbian friend did. It's that something in my knew what guys were and I saw none that night. 

Maybe, I thought, that was the real reason this poor girl hated guys. She didn't know the sort I know. The sort that doesn't repulse a girl, but makes her forget herself and want to follow the him to wherever it is he fancies going.

The girl who invited me told me to tell her when I was ready to leave, or she'd stay all night. Later, she said she normally stays until 5am. I figured I could do it until 2am. I traveled from group to group with her and her cousin, talked mostly to the cousin, usually about how stupid she thought the guys were (which was true considering the situation, but also true of almost every girl there). 

Inside I was remembering every beautiful, crazy party I'd ever attended where my friends didn't need alcohol to laugh, where we actually laughed and actually danced full force, where we dropped at 6am with nothing to carry us through but our very selves

I remembered how we partied because we were happy, not to find happiness. 

Outward, I was calm and smiled, and talked, and drank my coke. At one point I realized I was totally not awkward, though possibly bored and definitely tired. 

Finally, after 1am the cousin was ready to go home. The girl who'd invited me wasn't. One of her "friends" would bring her home. I wasn't sure it was the wisest thing, but the cousin said it was fine. And so we left. The whole way home the girl spoke to me of the horrors of men and of being uncertain of so many things, and finally, I felt free to speak to her. I told her of actually good men and then told her of the sort of parties I and my friends have. 

"Those sound like so much more fun," she said, sadly. 

When we were talking of men again, I said, "Yes, I know many jerks too, and have been hurt by men. But we can't hate all for atrocities of a few. That's not fair to the good men."

"Yes," she said. "That's true."

I told her it would be fun to hang out, and I hope we would in a saner environment. Sadly, we never did, due to busy lives. 

I dropped her off, and was in bed by 2am, a little earlier than I'd hoped. 

The next day while eating my eggs and onions, I saw this stamp from the club from the night before. It almost looked like a tattoo and I startled.

"What did I do last night?" I laughed to myself.
Then more seriously, I realized so many other people would be asking themselves that same question, only it would be loaded with regret or shame or the pain of a headache or the hangover of complete loneliness and depression as they realized that they were still not happy.

"Every year I feel awful the next day I wish I hadn't drunk so much," the girls told me. "But it's hard to have self-control and remember that before."

Imagine living a life where your idea of fun results in regret of some sort every time. Imagine linking those two together as inseparable.

That is sad.

Fun should never be something that leads to regret. It should never cause a lingering hollow ache in your heart. It should never be so awkward and impersonal as a dimly lit room crowded full of unaware bodies.

Fun should be beautiful, never that. 
The next day I had more fun taking crazy selfies with a baby than I did partying with strangers my age.

The next night I had a blast discussing politics and theology with a priest and my au pair family.

Maybe I'm just wired differently, but where is the fun in losing your senses? Where is the fun in a party void of laughter? Where is the fun in music too loud for dancing? How is it fun to create memories you regret rather than cherish? 


  1. Wow, Keturah, this is a fantastic post. That scenario just sounds so sad - for me personally, it’s hard to even imagine that atmosphere, just because it’s so far out of my comfort zone. XD But I especially love what you said at the end, that "fun should never be something that leads to regret." That’s such a true statement and something I think a lot of us forget about in the moment. . . .

    1. Thanks, Nicole! Traveling has definitely stretched my comfort zone a bit... But then I came home and was uncomfortable taking a new route to work haha. The things we do. It is sometimes hard to remember to only have fun that doesn't result negatively. But I think having that mindset on a regular basis makes it easier for when we're having too much fun to think ;)

  2. What an interesting experience you had! I agree that there's a lot of fun to be had out there, no alcohol required. Thank you for sharing your story with us!

    1. And only one of the many! Germany was certainly a unique time. Thanks for reading and commenting :)

  3. Hey, girl! I saw your IG post, and I’ve never been to a club before—or any party with alcohol. Your experience was really interesting to read, and it makes me a bit sad too. Though it’s nice to know for sure that (as I’ve always suspected), I’m really not missing out on anything. ;)

    1. Hey, nice to see your name here! Traveling and meeting friends all over has resulted in me attending plenty of gatherings with alcohol. But this was still way different than anything I'd experienced before. You're definitely not missing out on anything ;)

  4. I don't think I would go to a night club. Interesting story though! ;)

    1. I never thought I would either. Don't plan to again ;b

  5. I appreciate your thoughts here!
    Especially the "Imagine living a life where your idea of fun results in regret of some sort every time. Imagine linking those two together as inseparable.
    Fun should never be something that leads to regret."


    1. Thanks! And exactly! If only people understand what real joy and fun was then we'd have more of it all around, I think.

  6. It is so sad that people think that their only happiness can come from this kind of thing. Selfies with the baby sounds like a super fun time! :) Keturah, you have so much wisdom here, I wish everyone realized this!

    1. Yes, I too wish people realized how much wisdom I have. Haha, just kidding ;b and thanks for your comment :)

  7. This is a really great post. That's such an interesting experience you had and I appreciate your honesty and insight into the whole topic. :) I also don't understand why people can't have fun and laugh and enjoy themselves with friends and family without getting drunk?

    Also, I love your outfit! You have some of the coolest and most fun outfits! :b

    1. Thanks! Yeah, it's quite sad. I guess that's just all the more reason to get out and show others how to have a good time!

      Ahh! Thanks so much. I definitely have fun with my clothes ;b

  8. This is a really incredible post! I would have never thought of nightclubs as sad, but your post on it really shows a different perspective. It is sad, and it makes you really want to connect to each of those people and show them a better way.


    1. I never would have thought of them as sad, either. And I'm sure most people don't have that take-away. But yes, it's a sadness that's really a sorrowing desire that gives you a deeper sympathy for humanity.

  9. This is so sad, Keturah. But what beautiful words of wisdom you always bring to the darkest experiences. (Also the picture of the coca cola bottle. I have been admiring it in my memory ever since I read this post when it first went up.) (I've been a lazy commenter for the past month or two, forgive me.)

    1. I'm amazed that you came back and read it ;) I would never remember to return, and thus comment right away. I feel like life is so full of dark moments and the only way to get through it all is to see a the beauty that must be there somewhere. Thank you! And that picture literally took way too long to capture haha.

  10. This was interesting Keturah. I’m honestly not sure what I would have done at any point in your story. I really dislike being around drunk people.
    It was nice to read your perspective though. Thank you for sharing!

    1. Thanks for reading! I've been around many drunk people, so though I have grown disensitezed to it all to a degree, this was still a new level of discomfort for sure. Yet I like to think I can usually push away my feelings and be in the scene. Not always the best I'm sure ;)

  11. I've always thought clubs sounded like a hellish nightmare. Turns out I was right. XD

    1. Haha yeah we definitely don't need to experience it all to know ;)

  12. I can almost promise that the clubs in Portland are a lot worse. What's kind of cool are the spots that had music and older adults 30's- 60's that my boyfriend brought me too. Everyone at those places saw where they fit into the world and weren't there to try to impress anyone. I've enjoyed the few club experiences I've had but I think this was mostly based on the fact that I enjoyed the people I was around. Nevertheless, I did enjoy your humor in this post and your POV. A wonderful read.

    1. You know, the place in Germany was huge ... but I don't know if anything can beat Portland's crowded space ;p So I think you gotta be right there. The company does make the difference, for sure. My friends and I def have a good time when we aren't impressing each other ... or when we are in a non-serious way, for sure ;) So glad you enjoyed the post though ;D Thanks for your input!


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