It’s always easy for the people who made it through the door, past the bouncers, to slip their coats off and survey the dancefloor inside. Who wants to think about the people left outside? Let’s enjoy ourselves and dance! Life’s unfair – we should just count ourselves lucky to be allowed in and make the most of what we have. Some would say, that the people left outside were just unlucky – they came too late to the party, the dancefloor was already crowded, the bouncers can’t let everybody in otherwise the nightclub would become a fire hazard. Others might say: well, maybe, there’s a reason some people weren’t let in – maybe they were dressed wrongly, or the bouncers knew them as troublemakers…whatever, the bouncers know their jobs, and I’m sure the reasons are for the good of everybody already inside. Besides, it’s just NO FUN being part of a club that lets anyone in, right?
But history itself says: in fact, the rules on being let in are entirely arbitary as far as dress is concerned. The decisions of the Club are made based on what the Club considers to be in its own best interests. You, person dancing away on the dancefloor, may feel that we provide the backdrop and the company for your personal benefit: in fact it is as a business we operate, and as a business we want to exploit you for our own, continued survival.
We, the owners of the Club, know full well that dancing may be done anywhere, and that, truly, music is free, but it is not in our interests to promote that idea; in fact we will squash any mention of it whersoever it occurs. We want you to believe that those things do not ‘count’ unless they occur within our walls, and in order to persuade you to do this we use the usual tricks – official photographers, dazzling reviews, beautiful PRs, fashionable bands etc. We know full well that the ‘experience’ of dancing may well be as or more enjoyable on the outside, particularly if the dancer is (horrors!) unaware or unsympathetic to the idea of our dancefloor as the Only One In Town. We can’t actually make the subjective experience of dancing any different, so, instead, we will work with two main aims – 1. To ensure that the immortality of reputation is ours to bestow; that is, the promise that your dance and dancing will be remembered only if you choose to impress and express on our dancefloor and 2. To undermine your subjective experiences so that you come to believe that there IS only one choice…
The inside/outside nature of the Club is in fact created. The Club encourages all within it to view themselves as the luckiest of the dancers. In fact, to that end, it allows a glass window so that all within may view the envious faces pressed against the window. Of course, any actual violence on the part of the bouncers is always shielded from the Club patrons; it spoils the atmosphere of the party somewhat and is in the worst possible taste. Whispers occur as to its practise, but the official line is: those people were troublemakers wanted to STOP the party and ruin it for everyone, violence was the only solution, they were jealous of everyone inside, they were the ones that attacked the bouncers – crazy! –People are slightly fearful, and glad that the bouncers are there to protect them, and the Club. Yes, outside and waiting in line, those bouncers seemed cruel, scary and prone to violence themselves, but now the people are inside with a few drinks inside them and a warm fuzzy feeling, why! The bouncers are actually diamonds in the rough, no, really, they are the best of men, they are selflessly serving the people! Thank goodness they are there – how frightening to think that one might otherwise have to face those violent crazies who want to come in and harm us, the people!
And in fact this is true. The bouncers DO protect the people. The people inside the Club. Any irrational, violent tendencies are reserved for those bastards outside.
And what OF the people outside? The ones who, on the night in question, were not quite of the right sort? Did they really just come late to the party? Was it a matter of numbers? Were the clothes they were wearing too reminiscent of last year’s fashion, or a little too outré – a bit too ahead of the fashion pack – to be in good taste? After all, maybe they can’t even dance at all! Who’s ever seen them dance, or read a review of their dancing in the papers? Why do they even come, why do they even look through the windows, surely it must be torture to know they don’t have a chance of getting in? Haha, the fools!
But the Club isn’t stupid. In fact, it knows that those faces pressed against the glass, hungry faces, hungry eyes watching every move of the dancers on the dancefloor, are the very clue and reason for its continued success. Without that necessary audience, the dancers might falter in their steps (some do, anyway, put off by the constant gaze of attention). Without the long queue stretching outside, those inside might start to talk about the way the Club seems to be losing its cachet…maybe even ponder aloud to others the possibility of finding a new or better, more exclusive Club…
So the Club does all it can to keep the waiters waiting. Now and then, a bouncer will randomly stroll up and down the line, choosing someone in an apparently unguessable fashion to be pulled out the line and ushered past the rope into the club. Whispers, rumours pass up and down the line: soon it will be our turn, soon the very fact that now and again people from inside leave the Club to go home means that some of us have a chance of getting in if we wait long enough! (Indeed, they DO have a chance – if the Club decides that previously unfashionable puffball skirts are ‘in’ this evening, then puffball wearers will get lucky!)
And who ‘runs’ the Club? Who indeed? The truth is, it’s hard to know. Maybe it is those who have been dancing the longest. The people with reputations. The people with the most to lose.
Maybe there is no one running the Club. Maybe no-one wants to go and find out, in case it’s empty air.
You can imagine the effects this practice has on different individuals. Some inside have been inside for so long they forget there is an outside. They doubt its existence. They can’t imagine it. Some can’t forget it. Some try their best to leave, to disappear. Some are forcibly ejected from the back way – either to vanish without trace, or to attempt to rejoin the endless queue.
Some outside are happy to wait. Some aren’t, and try everything they can to get inside, or rage against the nightclub itself, try to kill the bouncers, try to bomb the Club. They hate the people that are inside for their dancing. It enrages them to see the happy unconcerned faces inside. Or: they hate the bouncers, the cruel arbiters of fate. They refuse to be chosen from the line. Or: they hate the Club itself, and vow to tear it down.
Some lose interest, or wander away, or start to form small dancing groups of their own. Maybe they even plan to build other nightclubs, away from this one. These small experiments are viewed with unspeaking gimlet eyes by the bouncers, who know that the Club cares nothing for insignificant alternatives. As long as the outside dancing isn’t admired through the window by those inside, in which case it will be moved or stopped. The Club is only really bothered if they become aware that another nightclub is gaining in popularity, fearing a loss of their own profits. They fear that the line might dwindle, or people be tempted elsewhere. In such cases, they move in, and employ various tactics to either gain ownership or destroy any rival nightclub. Maybe they’ll silence the music there, or stop the dancing, or infiltrate the club and create scenes inside to discomfit the patrons, scare them away. Or, maybe they’ll simply move in and buy out the management there, and turn the other club into a smaller version of their own. Who knows? Either way, the Club is able to promote itself, eternally, as the Only One in Town…