Clubbing: How to Handle Fears and Anxieties and Still Have a Great Night

The club experience can be the best or the worst. And everything in between. Personally, since a night out just over a month ago, I have ruled out clubbing altogether. At least for a while. What should be carefree, fun frivolity – a boogie, some drinks – has become something threatening, to be avoided at all costs. According to Thought Catalog four major triggers for anxiety are being stuck inside, loud music, temperature and crowds. Clubbing: the manifestation of all of these things in one neat package!

Plus, many of us face the threat of being groped, hit on or receiving some other sort of verbal or physical sexist abuse. Or being knocked about by drunk, sweaty bodies, all of whom seem to be having a great time and unaware of your presence as a fellow human. It’s no wonder clubbing can trigger anxiety for some people. If this is the case for you, you are not alone.

My personal dislike for the club-night experience has led me to consider whether there is another way. If you choose to stay away from clubs entirely for a while, fair enough! It’s immensely important that we are kind to one another and ourselves, and that we do not judge other people’s experience of ‘fun’ as any better or worse than our own. There are a million things you can do instead: have a night in; watch something fantastic; read something interesting; go to the pub; have people over for dinner; go to the theatre or cinema; sleep!

(I truly cannot over express the pure joy I experience when my candles are lit, my tea is made and my duvet wrapped around me, and I have chosen not to judge myself for this and to respect it as the self-care it is.)

However, if you do – as I do – sometimes crave a good dance, getting all dolled up, a night on the town, then we need to overcome the fears and anxieties which surround clubbing.  Most importantly we need to remove any sense of pressure. Decide on the day. Allow yourself to opt in or out last minute. Equally allow other people to do the same. Leave whenever you want to. This may require a contingency plan – maybe a signal to your friends or setting aside some emergency taxi money to ensure a safe journey home, if your friends want to keep going. Knowing you’re going to be able to leave may make you more likely to go in the first place. Also, leaving when you’ve had fun but you’re fading will make it far more likely to be an overall good night – we all know they can turn!

It seems to be the case that a night out because you really want to be there and you’re in the right mood that day has a far higher chance of being fun than when you weren’t feeling up for it and so are more susceptible to the triggers I mentioned earlier. What to do on a night out is, like anything else, about being as kind to yourself as possible and recognising what you do or do not need at that time.

It is also worth considering how the clubs themselves can make a night out experience easier. As consumers we have every right to make requests and show clubs that we are more likely to go to them if they offer safe spaces away from the music with water, seating, snacks perhaps, and bouncers who seem to be on the side of you, the club-goer, rather  than the business. We also have every right to ‘make a fuss’ about inappropriate behaviour. In fact, we need to.

We need to call out people (let’s face it, often men) who grope, touch, threaten or abuse. Whether the inappropriate behaviour is ‘big’ or ‘small’ – even someone remaining in your personal space or persistently trying to touch or kiss you after you have said ‘no’ or have demonstrated your disinterest. We need to call this out, so it is not as commonplace. We need to call this out so that young girls going clubbing don’t come to expect it. 

As much as it can be intimidating, we should report groping and inappropriate behaviour as much as possible. Even if you think it’s normal. Even if you think the bouncer won’t care. Your night shouldn’t be ruined by sexism. By reporting it you might be making someone else’s club experience easier. You have every right to refuse advances: if you are only at a club for a dance with your girls that is just as legitimate as someone who is there to pull! You only need to go into the girl’s toilets at clubs to see how loving we can be to each other, so be that way on the dancefloor too: looking out for other girls who may be uncomfortable. And be that way to your friends and yourselves if staying in or going home seems like the best option.