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An Introvert’s Guide to Clubbing

This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at UCT chapter.

The night club: a place for extroverts to enjoy drinks and the company of fellow drunk extroverts, exchanging sweat on the dancefloor with music playing at an eardrum-bursting volume. This year I experienced going to a night club for the first time. And for the second time. And the third. Perhaps more – I’ve lost count. But being the socially awkward introvert that I am, I didn’t enjoy these experiences very much.

Throughout high school I’d managed to dodge going to clubs and instead spent my Friday nights watching YouTube with my cat. But this year all my friends are turning 21, and clubbing is (apparently) an integral part of a proper 21st celebration. Although, a good thing that has come out of these experiences is that I now have a few tips on how to thrive (or at least survive) these clubbing escapades as an introvert.

So, whether you’re introverted or just socially awkward (no judgement here, I’m both of these things), here are 6 tips on how to survive the ultimate extrovert environment: the nightclub.

1. Mentally prepare yourself beforehand

Look, it’s not that introverts are opposed to having fun, it’s just that an introvert’s idea of fun is spending time alone watching TV – whereas what extroverts find fun are events that drain our social batteries, such as parties or clubs. It’s not that we can’t have fun at these events of course, but it’s going to take a lot more preparation.

I like to give myself at least 2 weeks of mental preparation before a night of going out. Give yourself time to charge your social battery beforehand so that you’re not totally depleted when you go out, and make sure to get plenty of rest too. This way, you’ll feel much more prepared to tackle the evening, and thus will feel much more at ease. This makes the evening much less intimidating. Also, let your friends know how far in advance you’ll need to start preparing. My friends know not to surprise me with a spontaneous trip to the club; I’ve trained them well.

2. Dress in a way that makes you comfortable

There’s a lot of pressure around what to wear at a club, or what constitutes appropriate night club attire, and it can feel weird to dress up in a way you’re not used to. The most important thing is to dress in a way that makes you feel comfortable. If you dress in a way you’re totally not used to and are feeling uncomfortable or awkward in your outfit, you’re not going to have a good time. This can make you feel completely out of place. But if you dress in a way that makes you feel more comfortable, then you’ll feel much more confident in yourself, and it’ll make the experience much more enjoyable.

Also, make sure to wear closed-toe shoes that you wouldn’t mind getting dirty. The floors of clubs are always weirdly sticky for a multitude of reasons, and you don’t want to experience that with bare feet.

3. Always go with friends

Going out is always more fun if you go with friends. Make sure that you’re going with a group of people that you trust and who know about your clubbing-related anxieties. This way you’ll be surrounded by people that you can have fun with and who will check up on you if you get too overwhelmed. I’d suggest also having an experienced clubber come with you – just follow their lead, they’ll know what to do, and they’ll make sure you fit in. It’s also a good idea to have another introvert with you as well, as you two can take social breaks together when you need them and have a good time. Alternatively, you two can bond over how uncomfortable you are and suffer together until you decide when the socially acceptable time to leave is.

4. Don’t drink too much

If you’re anything like me, the thought of being paralytically drunk and out of control in an unfamiliar environment doesn’t sound appealing at all. Take it from someone who drank way too much on their first proper clubbing experience and cried and threw up the whole evening; it’s not a great time. Just make sure to pace yourself, and make sure that you know your drinking limits before you go out.

Alternatively, you can assume the role of the sober friend. Your friend group will always need a sober companion to stop them from texting their ex, and someone to get them to drink water to prevent a hangover in the morning. If you assume this role, make sure not to forget the most critical part of your job – taking plenty of pictures and videos for your friends to laugh at and/or be embarrassed by the next morning.

5. Do what you do best

If the thought of cramming yourself into a sweaty mess of dancing bodies on a floor that is mysteriously sticky fills you with as much dread as it does for me, then I have great news for you. Why force yourself to dance to bad pop-song remixes or talk to drunk strangers when you could do what you do best: people watching. In my opinion, the best part of busy public spaces is that you can watch people (in a non-creepy way, obviously). Nightclubs are endlessly fascinating places to observe people and learn about the behavioural patterns of your drunken friends and peers.

I once watched someone throw up on the dance floor (I guess that’s part of the reason these floors are always so sticky) and then proceed to make out with two strangers, who seemed blissfully unaware of this previous occurrence. Grossed out? I was too. But imagine these events being narrated by David Attenborough talking about “the party people in their natural habitat” and it becomes much more entertaining.

6. Give yourself time to recover

If there are any extroverts reading this, DON’T LAUGH, this is a very important and valid tip! After a big night of socialising and being out of your comfort zone, it’s important to take a step back and let yourself unwind. Spending quiet time alone doing something that will help you recharge your social battery is critical as it will help you recuperate from what Intorvert, Dear calls an “introvert hangover”. And who knows, you might also be recovering from an actual hangover (depending on whether you decide to take my advice from tip 4 or not).

Overall, while nightclubs are often seen as the antithesis of the introversion lifestyle, if you’re surrounded by the right people and you feel like you have space to be yourself, it can still be a fun experience, and perhaps even an experience worth repeating (once you’ve recharged your social battery, of course). I look forward to seeing you all on the side-lines of the dancefloor.

Film and Television Studies Honours student