“It’ll be an experience of a lifetime, or something.” I realize after I volunteer to go to a local club that this could end very well, with a dying phone battery, or very poorly with beer-stained jeans and some semblance of emotional damage. Vinyl, fondly, or mockingly, referred to as “Club V” is a nightclub I have never dared enter. My experience is limited to stories I hear from friends reminiscing about freshman year of college. There’s also the intermittent spurts of people watching I’ve done while walking past the club, heading home from the bar at 11:00 the time people are just arriving at Vinyl.
It’s Thursday night and that means it’s “College Night” (18+) at Club V. I park my car on East Avenue at 10:45. Any other night, I would already be in bed. Tonight, though, the only way I’ll get the real Vinyl experience is to arrive just as 10:50 bus of alcohol-lubricated college students shows up. My three friends and I (of which I am the only Club V virgin) speed walk to Vinyl with our arms crossed and pushed up against our chests. The 15 people waiting to get into Club V are all have the same posture, bouncing on their toes. It’s currently 37 degrees and no one, including me, is dressed for the weather. Bodycon dresses, crop tops, miniskirts; not a single coat.
The flow of people leads me around the corner inside Vinyl, and up a steep set of stairs. At first, the smell of the club is overwhelming, but pleasant, like the inside of a Yankee Candle store. Once I’m three steps up, though, the candle smell mixes with the scent of urine and I’m harshly reminded I’ve entered foreign territory.
My three friends and I pick a spot at the bar to begin the people watching. One quick glance around the room and I realize my group is bringing up the median age of the club-goers by a statistically significant number. It’s impossible to count the number of black “X”s on the hands of everyone around me, marking their infancy. I feel some sense of superiority for being part of this small group of 21+ wearing bright green wrist bands. I also feel a sense of inferiority. I am too old to be here.
Vinyl’s dance floor at 10:50 PM is a sad sight. There are just four girls, donning black “X”s, dancing like a group of Godiva girls, with the the DJ as their satyr. One of the Godiva girls takes a Snapchat video with the flash on, and it temporarily blinds one of my eyes when I look directly at it. This is the first of 68 Snapchats I see taken during the two hours and 20 minutes we spend at Vinyl.
My drink for the night is club soda with a lime, which the bartender charged me two dollars for. I throw back my third one, and announce I have to run to the ladies’ room. One of my friends tells me to make sure I tip the bathroom attendant. I look at her quizzically and chalk her comment up to the three Bud Lights she’s had to drink.
To my surprise, I am greeted at the bathroom door in the most unfriendly manner by a short, elderly black woman wearing a butler’s uniform. Her presence seems to be a strange attempt at sophistication in a wholly unsophisticated night club. Her name tag says “Old Lady P.” The mirror in front of the sink has a sign: “Candy and gum for tippers.” There’s a table in the bathroom with an assortment of Blowpops and what looks to be Doublemint Gum, next to a tip jar. The Blowpops, I can only imagine, are for sex appeal, and the gum is to cover up liquor breath for makeout sessions. I only see one woman the entire night with a bathroom Blowpop in her mouth.
Over the next hour, I see a woman straddling a man on the couch and two people kicked out.
Contrary to my expectations, there weren’t any movie-worthy brawls or particularly raunchy couples (save the couch couple). Instead, the night is cut short at 1:00 when the speakers cut out for the twenty-fifth time—just when my dance moves were getting good.