As New Year's Eve approaches, our man in the booth Harold Heath tackles a question of dancefloor etiquette
One of the many beautiful things about club culture is how inclusive and accepting/too-high-to-be-arsed we are. We put up with a lot.
You wanna come to the party alone, give your sweat glands a proper work out on the Gary Abletts for a couple of hours and then share the results by hugging complete strangers? Okay, we can go with that. You wanna express your deep bond for your partner by kissing super-passionately in the middle of a heaving dance floor? Well hey, you just do your thing. You wanna wear buttless chaps to the rave and spend the evening displaying your hairy buttocks while falling over from ket-walk? You go, girl.
We welcome everyone. Ours is a tolerant house, where misfits and freaks can mix with suits and squares, come one, come all. But if we might be so bold, could we recommend that while at the disco you leave your phone, if not at home, then at least in your pocket?
Obviously, we all might need to send an occasional text or Shazam a tune on a night out, but, much like a funeral (only with louder music and better lights) a nightclub dancefloor isn't a place to be on your phone. If the essence of our scene is community and togetherness (and it is), then the advent of phone culture and the growing ubiquity of phones is having a profoundly detrimental effect on clubland.
Party people, phone people
Everyone in the room has a role to play in making the night, not just the DJ. The phone-led cataloguing and reporting of the event, and the diversion of people's attention from the room they're actually in right now, creates a crew of half-attendees: clubbers who aren't quite there, who aren't making the party but observing it. There's almost an accompanying sense of entitlement to this behaviour: sitting on the sidelines idly glancing at a tiny glowing screen, waiting to be entertained, rather than getting involved and making the night into the magical event that everyone's participation will create.
Not to mention the obvious fact that people in a club might be doing things that they don't particularly want documented. When someone take a shot on their phone with a flash, and the flash hangs around for a couple of seconds, it feels like there's a tiny police helicopter with a spotlight hovering over your shoulder, which is obviously every clubbers dream.
We all want people to think we're cool and that we're having a great life. It seems to be a part of human nature - we love to communicate. Indeed, what is DJing if not non-verbal communication on a mass scale? But we can direct this urge to communicate and share energy back into the room we are actually in, or we can funnel it out via our phones. Make the right choice and the party steps up a gear, a sense of something bigger than the individual starts to make itself felt, and for a few precious moments we can lose ourselves in brief instances of group transcendence. Or, we can update Instagram with a photo of us looking awesome, and put a sharp comment on Facebook which shows how witty and sophisticated we are.
The only thing you should be doing with a phone in a club is waving it in the DJ's face so they can see what tune you want them to play next. All DJs love that.
Words: Harold Heath Pic: Ververidis Vasilis/Shutterstock