That Friday night it pissed rain as I stepped outside a black Honda Civic in front of an address my Uber driver didn’t recognize. Calmly tipsy from a Kentucky bourbon shot, I entered the bar and spotted Vivian in the belly of the dance floor between two Fred Perry models and a gang of stick and pokers. Dancing in a pool of red lights under a dollar store disco ball, the basement filled with apocalyptic smoke from an MTV music video as Frank Ocean’s “Chanel” began to play. The dress code for the night was athletically capable, deliberately chic and slightly ironic. The lineup outside was growing longer and louder and tall drunk girls in high heels pleaded for cigarettes.
Reunited with Vivian, there were serious conversations to be had about the cool party we were standing inside. “You won’t believe it, Sar. There’s a semi-celebrity here tonight,” Vivian blushed, wearing a thick choker and a pair of pleated culottes and a sparkly tank top from Topshop. For a moment, I wondered what constituted a semi-celebrity. “Really? Who?” I asked. “It’s Heidi’s little sister, the famous photographer on Instagram.” Gazing into the crowd, I didn’t know who I was looking at, but I nodded my head convincingly, yawing myself into an “Oh, wow,” as we both eyed a young woman wearing sporty yellow sunglasses, ripped flared jeans and an oversized white Calvin Klein hoodie.
In small crowds of three and four, pierced strangers spoke closely in uptight circles on the dance floor. Surrounded by an entourage from The Matrix, Vivian’s ex showed up, followed by an ominous crowd of Health Goths levitating towards the bar like vampires. As time collapsed in thirty-minute intervals, the characters of the night melted together into a scene of intellectual non-conformist wearing fifty shades of black. It was time for a pee and a hit of something strong. Waiting in line for a bathroom without a mirror, a stylish yuccie appeared behind me in a black Adidas tracksuit, offering a bump of coke that was like speed but actually powdered Ex-Lax.
Now Kendrick’s “DUCKWORK” is playing and my jaw is jumping. Vivian tells me to stop shaking my jaw, but there’s nothing I can do about it, so I decide it’s better to talk louder and more frequently to more strangers. The crowd is drunk and I decide to initiate friendly conversation between mutual acquaintances. Mostly I say, “Wow. Totally,” and “Do you know Ben?” and “Look at that guy’s pants!” The conversation is flowing and suddenly I realize that I need to take a shit because the coke I’m sniffing is most definitely powdered Ex-Lax and I read a VICE article last week about an anthelmintic drug called Levamisole that kills white blood cells and is in 99% of all cocaine.
Shortly after I run into a friend of a friend of a friend of friend who tells me what she’s up to and about the new guy she’s kind of not really but mostly seeing. I tell her that I’m happy she’s happy. And she’s happy that I’m happy, then I politely but urgently excuse myself to find Vivian chatting to a fuckboy about the new Kendrick album, intersectional feminism and why we all need to sit down and be humble. “Totally,” I respond before I get bored and go back to the washroom.
Moments later in the bathroom, I’m waiting in line beside a German existentialist in a black mock top and crop wide leg trousers who’s on the phone with her friend who’s trying to find her expensive leather jacket in a pile of expensive leather jackets. I text Vivian with hysterical exclamation marks and tell her I’m in the washroom. By the time I’m sitting on the toilet seat, I take a moment to reload Instagram. I exit the bathroom stall and I’m high again and the crowd has since expanded to accommodate a group of King West clubbers and an old man prowling for young women.
In a circle of chic strangers, a woman wearing a camouflage jacket screams, “Oh my God!” We all look at her as she embraces a handsome man wearing fancy leather Converse whom she hasn’t seen since Becky was still in town and they both worked at an agency that nobody says out loud. Eavesdropping, I’m relieved to hear she left the corporate life and is now selling flower crowns on Etsy. I ask her about flowers crowns and we have a passionate conversation about doing what you love because you love it and life is about loving stuff and doing it. We’re both incredibly inspired and later follow each other on Instagram.
The night is filled with empty conversations with no definitive conclusion about anything in particular. Returning to the sanctuary of the washroom, sniffing someone else’s drugs, I feel a sense of deep, internalized accomplishment: being seen, blending in, standing out, looking cool and simultaneously stupid on this strange and purposeful Friday night. I open up my emails, check the weather, text my mom back and decide I’m ready to leave because I don’t want to drink anymore and I’ve spent way too much time in the bathroom. I leave the party without saying goodbye, slightly drunk and craving some kind of attention I can’t put my finger on.