Hello, Faithful Readers, and welcome to the March edition of Gothic Charm School. This month, we are going to talk about a subject that has been covered in this forum before . . . club etiquette.
The Lady of the Manners can hear the cry now: “But you’ve already lectured us about that!” Well, yes. But then the Lady of the Manners was sent all sorts of interesting mail about the topic, had all sorts of interesting conversations with people who work at goth clubs, and was beseeched by those same people to elaborate on her previous advice. So this column is for them, and is especially dedicated to Tara, Ziggy, JQ, Heather, Eric, and Cathy, who gave the Lady of the Manners a wealth of information on the topic.
Firstly, a point that has been beaten almost to death in these pages: taking drinks onto the dance floor. Now, Faithful Readers will be well aware of the Lady of the Manners’ annoyance with that sort of behavior, and recollect that she has threatened to send the minions ‘round to offenders to collect money for dry-cleaning. BUT — a Faithful Reader wrote in to warn the Lady of the Manners that people need to take their drinks out onto the dance floor with them, otherwise an unscrupulous person might slip a . . . foreign substance into said drink, and have a person’s evening end with a trip to the emergency room. Need the Lady of the Manners say that she was horrified by the very thought of that? So the Drinks and Dancing rule has been changed to the following:
“If running out to the dance floor, leave one’s drink with friends who will watch over it. If one is at a club unaccompanied, take the drink onto the dance floor, but be very, VERY careful not to spill the drink onto anyone else.”
Mind you, this does NOT change the etiquette for taking lit cigarettes onto the dance floor. Don’t. If you feel you need your nicotine while dancing, then you MUST be aware of where your cigarette is at all times. Singeing other club patrons is inexcusable, and if it happens to the Lady of the Manners again, she will stab the offender with a hatpin.
With that taken care of, we move on to Interacting With Club Employees — Things You Might Not Have Realized.
By and large, people who decide to work at nightclubs aren’t doing it to prove how cool and ultra-goth they are. They’re doing it because they are devoted to the local scene and want to make it stronger, or because they’re friends with the club owner and were roped into something before they could say no. With that in mind, the simple code for interacting with club employees is “be nice”.
Now, the Lady of the Manners is well aware that some people’s definitions of “be nice” differ wildly from others’. But, various club employees have given their preferences:
* Tip. Tip the bartender. Tip the DJ. If you use the coat check, tip the coat check person. The Lady of the Manners realizes that people are on a budget, and wish to spend their hard-earned cash on entertaining themselves. But, whether they like to admit it or not, club employees are service industry folk. Which means that they deserve to be tipped. It doesn’t have to be an extravagant amount, but do try to tip them.
* Don’t Pull Attitude. Yes, yes, yes, everyone knows how cool you are. You don’t need to prove it by being snotty to people working at the club. They certainly won’t be impressed, and it will put you on their bad list, which could eventually lead to such traumas as getting blacklisted from the club. Especially don’t throw a ‘gother-than-thou’ attitude at the DJ if you are requesting something. You are not doing the DJ a favor by requesting a special song, they are doing you a favor by playing it. If you are polite about a request, you will stand a much better chance of hearing the song.
* Certain Types of Lewd and Lascivious Behavior are Frowned Upon. Don’t hit the dance floor and ‘dirty dance’ with the current object of your affection; other club patrons AND employees will at best find it amusing, but the general reaction is something like “Oh Pu-leaze! Get a room!” Along those lines, even though many clubs give away condoms or have condom machines in the restrooms, that is not tacit approval to have sex in the club. (Unless, of course, it’s one of Those Sorts of Clubs, which you should be well aware of if you’re patronizing it.) Club employees do not relish evicting passion-crazed couples from restrooms and dark corners, and would rather not have to do it at all.
* Take Empty Glasses Back to the Bar When You Go to Re-order. Clubs get busy. People responsible for busing tables may not always be able to get to things promptly. So, when you toddle on back to the bar to order another drink, try to remember to take your empty glass with you.
* If It Spills or Breaks, Tell an Employee. One would think that was rather self-evident, but apparently not. Now none of you reading this column have the excuse of not being told.
* Don’t Pretend You’re a Club Employee. What, exactly, does one hope to gain from such chicanery? It’s silly, and the REAL club employees tend to roll their eyes behind the person’s back.
* Don’t Involve Club Employees in Your Little Drama. Ah, club politics and drama, a fine tradition in goth scenes everywhere. However, don’t go running to people working at the club to tell them what that horrible creature just said, or how they just snagged the person you’ve been eyeing all night. That sort of behavior smacks of tattling, and is a touch too juvenile to be taken seriously. Now, if you’re good friends with various employees of the club and you know that they will listen as friends, then go right ahead and tell them—that’s what friends are for. But if you wouldn’t normally go and strike up a conversation with them, then don’t go involving them.
Speaking of club politics, drama, and gossip, be very, very careful when telling tales. It’s perfectly all right to sit in a darkened corner with a friend gossiping and making snippy comments about people. It is NOT all right to have any of those comments be overheard by or repeated to the people they’re about. One of the Lady of the Manners’ ways of entertaining herself at a club is to make vaguely catty comments about to people to friends; however, she knows that none of her friends will pass those comments on to people who would be hurt by them, and she would NEVER say something unkind to a person directly.
As to using clubs as a romantic hunting ground . . . sure, flirt with people. Look appreciatively (and/or longingly) at the attractive creatures wandering around the club. But make VERY sure that an advance would be welcomed. Don’t suddenly start touching the object of your desire unless you know that they won’t view such behavior as an affront. If they ask you to stop whatever you’re doing to or around them, don’t interpret that as them being coy or flirtatious. If their friends have to step in and tell you to stop, you have Gone Too Far, and should start apologizing profusely, then leave the club.
And, as a final word on How to Behave at Goth Clubs — watch where you’re going on the dance floor. Many, many people have written to the Lady of the Manners, asking her to remind everyone that dance floors should not be used to stand around and have long involved conversations on. They are for dancing. Also, when one is out on the floor swirling around, one needs to be aware of where the other dancers are and not run into them, jab them with a hand gesture, or step on their skirts. (For those who wear large petticoat & hoop-enhanced skirts, make sure that you can control them and aren’t inadvertently tripping people as you twirl.)
Now hopefully, everyone will take this advice to heart, and the Lady of the Manners won’t have to write another goth club etiquette article for at least a year. But do be warned — her minions are everywhere and taking notes, so all of you darlings should behave yourselves (just like you were going to anyway, the Lady of theManners is sure).
Be sure to come back next month, where something OTHER than nightclubs will be discussed; as always, send your terribly important etiquette questions to firstname.lastname@example.org.