It’s not that I hate alcohol or lack money, I just have no fucking clue what to do in a club. Friends usually tell me not to overthink it and just be myself, but that’s the worst advice you can give to an awkward man.
Being myself means two possible scenarios: either I stand around bobbing lamely to music I do not understand, or I embarrass myself so publicly whilst drunk that I want to delete myself from existence the next morning. (My apologies to anyone working at Zouk in 2013. In my defense, throwing up in the cranberry mixer beats vomiting on the floor)
Unfortunately, introversion also prevents me from communicating the true depth of how much I hate this whole idea. So my boss booked me for Martell NCF’s Curious Crew Night without the slightest consideration that I might want to spend a quiet evening watching Shape of Water with Mr Biggles.
So here goes nothing.
I’m told that the party is at Altimate (a.k.a 1 Altitude), a ‘VIP members-only club’ located at Raffles Place. Naturally, I have no idea where this is and spend 20 minutes wandering an empty car park before someone finds me.
When I arrive at 11:30 p.m, the party is already in full swing with a line snaking out from the club and into the distance. Inside, everyone has long since vacated the bar and the dance floor is now packed with dudes in shirts screaming over the EDM, faces twisted by ecstasy and hands flailing in the air.
It reeks of a zoo in heat, but watching their writhing makes me feel a little better. Honestly, who knows what they’re doing after 6 drinks anyway?
This newfound confidence immediately vanishes upon meeting the NCF Curious Crew, my ‘squad’ for this evening.
If you don’t know who they are, just imagine a rather inconsistent Korean pop group. Every guy is taller than me by one impeccably manicured head, and dressed to impress. They also have the cheekbones to match and a woman friend sticking to each arm.
Because our education system never taught me how to introduce myself in a club, I pour myself some NCF with soda before planting myself in a secluded corner. Around me, the Curious Crew chug cognac like gatorade while a group of wasted Thai girls dance in the booth behind.
Trapped between them, I feel the awkwardness rising faster than the price of Bitcoin. Christ, it’s like the first day of school all over again.
Fortunately, the alcohol is free-flow and it gives me courage to open my mouth. Unfortunately, this is all I do. I open my mouth, with absolutely no idea what to say or how to English, and this is what escapes:
“Hi, you’re with the Curious Crew right?”
This exchange follows:
“Yeah, I’m Josh.”
“PJ, nice to meet you.”
After shaking hands, he offers me some of his chips, which I gratefully accept because the cringe-worthy silence that immediately follows has already begun to feel like torture for the both of us. Well, mainly him.
3 or perhaps 5 drinks later, I’ve started feeling a little too pumped to just sit around. After all, guys don’t go to clubs to stew in their own moody silence. That’s what bars are for. You go to clubs to hit on girls. Or at least this is what the alcohol is telling me.
As you might expect, this goes incredibly badly.
Girl-Victim No.1 is wearing yellow and dancing on the table next to mine, so I borrow a pick-up line from Josh and head over:
“I took a picture of you earlier!”
“I TOOK A PICTURE OF YOU EARLIER BECAUSE I WANT TO SHOW SANTA CLAUS WHAT I WANT FOR CHRI-”
Pick-up lines are clearly a terrible idea when everyone has been deafened by a Drake remix. But a real man doesn’t give up so easily. After downing another glass of cognac, I recall a line from The Inbetweeners: “You don’t introduce yourself in the club, you dance over to them.”
Inspired by my own drunken logic, I half-dance, half-hobble, but most elbow my way over to the stage, where a group of Indian girls are partying. This brilliant plan works for a total of about 10 seconds, before I proceed to spill NCF on one of them and the bouncer drags me off the stage as another bunch of girls stare with shocked, grimacing smiles.
Fuck, this calls for another drink.
After grinding with few more people whom I’m pretty sure were girls, and shouting pick-up lines to anyone within earshot, I return to the Curious Crew table.
It’s littered with half-empty glasses so I chug some straight from the bottle. By now, nobody gives a shit except one guy, who collapses screaming into my arms before the bottle reaches my lips, sending a few glasses flying and drenching the both of us in Eau de NCF – the new fragrance for men-children who wish to smell of apricots and stupid.
Josh and few others pull his limp body from my lap, but not before the mini-seizure causes a stir, transforming me into the centre of attention. One of the Thai girls from the table behind comes over and without a word or gesture, we telepathically decide that it would be a good idea to pour liquor down each other’s throats.
Unfortunately, we are both more than tipsy at this point, so I pour NCF into her hair while she bathes my nipples with vodka.
I have no idea how much time has passed, but the Curious Crew has gone from zero to wasted whilst I was busy humiliating myself. Suddenly, I recall that at one point I shouted, “DO YOU BELIEVE IN WOMEN’S SUFFRAGE?”
This is the part of the night where your blood alcohol begins to distort both time and space. I no longer remember the sequence of events, only impressions.
One moment I am flailing like a drunk octopus in a sea of lasers. The next finds me dragging some wallflower onto the dance floor like some kind of debauched cheerleader before abandoning them to dry-hump Altimate’s mascot.
I have no idea where the Curious Crew have gone, but occasionally a familiar face meets me halfway for a bro hug and demands that I down my drink with him.
Do I oblige?
Of fucking course. I’ve already reached Nirvana, the stage where nothing matters. Shame is but a distant concept as I bum cigarettes and drinks from random strangers, made generous by booze.
This is how I meet Anthony, who invites me over to his table. With arms around each other, he pours me a drink before starting on his life story.
You see, Anthony is a 19 year-old millionaire who made his money by ‘investing’.
Investing in what? You might ask.
Unfortunately, I don’t have the slightest clue because I am halfway to blacking out at this point. Unable to summon any semblance of coherence in response to his incoherent mumblings, I do what any sensible person would do: pour drinks and shout for a toast before he can force me to write his biography.
In a moment of drunken serendipity, everyone responds. We gather around the bottle, raise our glasses to the night and guzzle the last of the booze, before embracing nearby strangers and howling like lunatics.
This is the last thing I remember: getting a piggyback ride from Anthony before security kicks us out.
As the bouncers drag his hysterical body to the elevator for trying to start a fight, I try to mount a rescue attempt before Alex (our photographer) pulls me away as I’m about to match Anthony’s drunken stupidity with my own.
God bless. I don’t think I could have thrown a punch without dislocating my own shoulder in the process.
From there, we head to an Indian Muslim stall where I swallow the traditional hangover cure of two egg pratas before the still-sober Alex bundles me into a home-bound taxi.
When I try to climb out of bed, I collapse face first onto the floor in agony.
Apparently, I had twisted my right knee because it now resembles an overripe rockmelon, swollen to twice its normal size. It must have happened some time during the night but there was so much alcohol in my bloodstream that I’m only feeling the pain now.
My mom greets me with more bad news when I limp into the kitchen. After reaching home last night, I had apparently mistaken our storeroom for a bathroom, and nearly took a piss on the vacuum cleaner.
Thank god I made enough noise to wake my family in the process. They were able to save the innocent vacuum from premature retirement.
In other news: I had lost a full pack of cigarettes
Also: I had drunk texted about half my friends with nonsensical gibberish.
Also: My exploits were all over my company’s Whatsapp chat.
This is a little too much to deal with so I decide to crawl back into bed. Watching Netflix is all I feel capable of this fine Sunday morning and Jessica Jones proves to be a decent hangover cure, even if it does nothing to purge the residual self-loathing you feel for sexually harassing a Despicable Me mascot.
In moments of clarity that punctuate the throbbing headache threatening to split my brain in half, I tell myself it’s time to grow up, be a responsible adult, and quit acting like a moron.
It’s a solemn vow that I know will be broken before the year is past—if not by my own hand then at the hands of the sadists who pay my salary.
At the same time, I am reminded of why I do this again and again despite my own better judgment. For a few hours, the booze transports you to a parallel universe, a quasi-utopia where you are not an anxiety-ridden cringe-fest. In that golden zone, you can be yourself without overthinking everything to the point of making something normal totally awkward.
It might not be the real you, but it offers a momentary, somewhat romantic glimpse of how easy life might be if you would just stop worrying.
It’s just too bad your liver will never agree.
Drink responsibly, kids.