It was a warm Saturday afternoon. The air conditioning in my apartment wasn’t working, so I lay on my bed with a fan pointing towards me and the sliding door open. I had Pandora’s Top Hits blaring loud on my TV, and the cross breeze of the wind from outside and the fan were brushing over my skin perfectly.
I don’t know what it was, maybe the fact that I’d been inside all day, that this was the first weekend in a while where I had no family responsibilities, or maybe just that amazing ambience of the music and breeze, but I felt completely electrified.
I made the decision around 8:30 that I wanted/needed to go out that night. I wanted to dance and drink and look amazing while I did it. My roommate had already left to work for the night, but his schedule was usually so flamboyant, I figured there was a 90% chance he’d be able to join me. I texted him, one of many for that night, and began to get ready.
First, I straightened my hair, realizing that my tight curls had grown exponentially since last I straightened it. With Pocahontas-like hair reaching my hips, I deduced that I wanted something new and fun to wear. I hit up Target, seeing as how at this point, it was 9:40 and all the stores in the mall were closed. I found a cute cold shoulder romper and a pair of cage-style nude heels to go along with it.
Back at home, I meticulously applied my makeup, drawing inspiration from the seventies dance queens I was aspiring to be that night. Throughout this process, I kept checking my phone over and over again, waiting for my roommate to text back. Nothing.
Panic and desperation settled in.
I wanted so badly to go out, I didn’t even think about what would happen if my friend didn’t answer back. I texted some other friends I had in the area, hoping one of them would be my partner in crime that night. Deep down, I began to realize that this night may be my first solo adventure.
I finished getting ready, and surprised myself at how put together I looked – just like how I wanted to. The texts came in…my other friends weren’t going to be able to come out. It was just me. I had a brief anxiety attack at the thought of going out by myself, knowing full-well that I was not one of those people who could just randomly meet strangers and make friends in an instant, like my roommate could.
But then I thought…I didn’t need to be that kind of person. But I didn’t need to be my normal self either.
I knew better than to try and force myself to be something I wasn’t. It was a hard lesson I’d learned before, and I didn’t feel like hating myself in the morning. But that didn’t mean I couldn’t be the best version of myself.
I made my way to the car. It was maybe 11:30. I put on an epic playlist as I drove to the club, telling myself the first thing I would do when I got there was order a shot and a beer to loosen up. It would be okay. It would be fun. Besides, the clubs I frequented were always packed from wall to wall, and the dance floor was always crowded. I could happily slip into the masses and lose myself to the music.
Then came the first club.
I pulled into the parking lot, unbelievably grateful that there’s open parking because I didn’t feel comfortable walking alone at night in this neighborhood. On the other hand, the empty parking spots should have probably been my first clue.
I pull down the mirror, check my makeup and take a few seconds to breathe, telling myself over and over again, “You can do this. Go in. Have fun.”
As I stepped out of the car, heels first, I suddenly felt a jolt of confidence. I felt as if everything was in slow motion, and all eyes were on me. A mysterious, beautiful woman who wasn’t afraid to go into a club alone, so sure of herself and what she wanted. I noticed the bouncer size me up, and while I usually felt uncomfortable around bouncers, almost expecting them to turn me away, this time, I felt completely in control. Almost like the movies, he removed the velvet rope, I breezed right in, and he nodded at me with a smile.
As I strutted in, I heard the music, the mysterious vixen still ruling over me, until my eyes adjusted to the darkness and strobe lights only to find a scenario that I never even thought possible:
This place was dead.
There was a total of four or five people in the middle of the dance floor, not even really dancing, but just talking, and taking pictures of themselves on the light-up panels in the floor. There were groups of people sitting down or standing next to the wall, but nobody looked like they were having fun. Not wanting to accept that this was immediately a dud, I walked to the bar, ordered a beer and went to stand at the edge of the dance floor.
I looked around, trying to think how that mysterious and confident woman I’d felt like five minutes ago would react to this kind of scene. I figured she’d be the life of the party. She’d chug her drink, and start pulling people onto the dance floor, until suddenly everyone was jumping up and down to the beat, losing themselves completely. But as I (very quickly) downed my drink, I looked around at people’s faces, and felt that, for some reason, this was not the type of crowd where I could try to pretend to be an extrovert.
I tossed my bottle, and left out a different exit. I went straight to my car, and got in, locking the doors behind me, and I began to talk to myself.
“You’ve got to be kidding me?! It’s past midnight on a Saturday night in Dallas?! Where is everyone?!”
I angrily turned the key in the ignition and got directions to my favorite go-to bar. This place would not fail me. Although a small, house-party sort of venue, the music was always kick-ass, the lighting electrifying, drink prices were reasonable, and it was always wall-to-wall packed with people dancing.
“Chin up,” I told myself. I was dangerously close to losing that alternate persona I’d just created. If I began to overthink, I knew my natural personality would begin to pull me back. It’d tell me to go back home and go to bed, maybe binge watch a couple episodes of Hawaii-Five-O. I’d come to terms with who I was and what I was comfortable with just recently, and I didn’t want to force myself too far out of my comfort zone, but I wanted to give this new persona, not to mention this night, a chance to really succeed and create at least a few memories.
By the time I parked for the next club, it was nearing 1:00 am. I was confident this club would not disappoint, but there also didn’t seem to be a lot of people walking the sidewalks of the usually crowded street. I showed the bouncer my ID, and held my breath as I walked into my favorite bar.
Can you imagine what I saw? That’s right, you guessed it. Dead.
I could feel my face and shoulders visibly fall as I assessed the empty space, seeing maybe ten or fifteen people standing at the bar, but that was about it. A few people looked my way, and I tried to brush off the dread. I looked at my phone, pretending I was texting a friend, like all sad and lonely people do.
Then I walked out the back entrance, pretending like I was meeting someone on the patio.
Maybe I didn’t give my seventies dance queen persona enough of a chance? Maybe I should have tried another club, or just stayed a little longer to see if the crowd might pick up soon, maybe one of those ten people would have pulled me onto the dance floor, causing everyone to start dancing, or maybe the universe knew something I didn’t and decided to interfere with my expectations for that night.
Whatever it was, I didn’t want to keep going. That mysterious vixen was gone, and all I wanted to do was hear really great music, dance, and feel infinite. So I drove to the one place I knew I could feel that way. Home.
When I got home, I turned off the lights, went out to the balcony, and turned the music on as loud as I could. Drinking straight from the wine bottle, I let go of whatever expectations for that night I had, and let the seventies dance queen slip away.
Maybe she’s meant for another night, or maybe she still needs to find herself a little more, but I hope I get to see her again. Sure, my first solo adventure completely sucked, but it’s a great story to tell, and I loved feeling those uncharacteristic bouts of confidence that I would normally never feel. Plus, a night spent looking out over the headlights on the freeway, listening to good music, and drinking good wine is never a night wasted. That’s something all of my different personas can agree on.
-Wine on the Balcony