Hello, Faithful Readers, and welcome to this month’s Gothic Charm School column. This month, the Lady of the Manners is going to carry through on the threa . . . promise she made at the end of last month’s column. That’s right, this month is going to be all about the etiquette for SOCIALIZING at clubs. (Not, she hastens to point out, general etiquette for club-going. The Lady of the Manners feels that she should probably leave that pet rant to sleep peacefully for another few months or so, and is going to try very very hard not to start carping on about inconsiderate people who take lit cigarettes onto crowded dance floors.)
Ahem. Yes, socializing at clubs. You would think it would be something of a no-brainer, wouldn’t you? Show up, talk to your friends, be distant but polite to the people you don’t like, go home. Alas, the Lady of the Manners has discovered that really and truly, nothing is as simple as it seems. So, in the interests of peace and harmony amongst the black-clad masses in ClubLand, here are some guidelines she came up with:
Rule the First: Don’t gossip about people directly in front of them.
Now, the Lady of the Manners isn’t going to tell you not to gossip. She’s pretty sure all of your little heads would explode if you tried, not to mention that the Lady of the Manners herself doesn’t think she could avoid it. After all, it is something every social scene thrives upon. HOWEVER, if you’re about to tell a juicy piece of gossip to a group of friends, DO be clever enough to make sure that (1) the person the gossip concerns isn’t within hearing distance, (2) none of their friends are, either, and (3) that you do so discreetly. What does discreetly mean, you ask? Well, would someone sitting two tables over be able to tell from your facial expression and body language that you’re passing on extremely interesting information, and be driven wild with curiosity? If so, then you aren’t being discreet enough.
Rule the Second: When the subject of your gossip confronts you, be honest.
Oops — the oh-so-interesting tidbit you’ve whispered to people has gotten back to its subject, and they’ve asked you if you said “blah blah blah”. Yes, this is uncomfortable. Yes, you would rather be anywhere else but having this conversation. Guess what? You have to be honest, even if it makes you out as a back-stabbing prat. Swallow your pride and tell them exactly what you said. The only embellishments you may add are any extenuating circumstances, such as “but that’s what your roommate told me”, and ONLY if those extenuating circumstances are true. You aren’t allowed to make things up to save face, your pride, or a friendship that is about to go down in flames because you said the wrong thing. If you’re going to be stupid, you’ve got to be tough.™
Rule the Third: Don’t touch people if you don’t know them well.
Good grief kidlings, the Lady of the Manners didn’t think she needed to spell this one out, but she found out she was wrong, wrong, wrong. It is NOT friendly to go up and grope people you barely know; for that matter, it isn’t friendly to do that to people you DO know unless you have An Understanding with them. And don’t you dare try and fob the Lady of the Manners off with the excuse of “I’m just being friendly” or “They’re just overreacting.” The Lady of the Manners is quite serious about this; people are supposed to feel safe in their own subculture, and being pawed at by strangers or semi-strangers does not make one feel safe at all.
Rule the Fourth: If you don’t like what someone is doing, politely ask them to stop.
This is in direct response to Rule The Third. If someone is touching you and you don’t want them to, ask them to stop. If they don’t, tell them to stop and move away. (If they don’t let you move away, start screaming your head off — better to be a little bit embarrassed than forcibly groped.)
Mind you, the “If you don’t like what someone is doing, politely ask them to stop” bit does not apply to people smoking, drinking, laughing, or talking loudly. Those are standard things to expect at most clubs, and asking people not to do such things will not go down well. Asking them not to blow smoke directly into your face, sure. Asking them not to smoke at all — not a chance. If you really don’t like being around those sorts of things, you should probably find different places to do your socializing in.
Rule the Fifth: Don’t keep plying obviously-intoxicated people with drinks. Sure, it seems like all sorts of wacky fun at the time, but in truth it isn’t a very nice thing to do. Are you going to keep them from doing things they normally wouldn’t do if their judgment weren’t impaired, make sure they get home safely, don’t trip over anything on their way to passing out in bed, and then pamper them through the resulting hang-over the next morning? No, the Lady of the Manners thought not. So don’t buy them extra drinks just because you think they’re soooooo funny when they’re drunk.
Rule the Sixth: Keep an eye on your friends. The Lady of the Manners has been hearing all sorts of troubling things lately about possibly “dosed” drinks, people not behaving the way they normally do, and so on. So the Lady of the Manners would like to encourage all of you to take care of one another. If one of your friends is acting strangely, privately ask them if everything is okay. If there’s even the faintest suspicion of something having been slipped into their drink, keep a close eye on the person who had it and try to save the suspicious beverage in question (so it can be tested by the correct sorts of authorities.
(Now, to try and rein in any burgeoning paranoia; remember kidlings, people can and WILL have different tolerance levels for alcohol at any given time. Feeling under the weather, tiredness, stress — ALL those things can magnify the effects of drinking, even if the person had their “normal” amount. Keep that in mind before you and your friends haul out the pitchforks and torches to hunt down The Mystery Drink Doser. Wait for proof that there is one, and then get the proper people involved. Vigilantism sounds terribly exciting, but the police will be much more useful in dealing with these sorts of things.)
Goodness, what an alarming club-socializing rule the Lady of the Manners just had to explain. Still, better safe than sorry.
Rule the Seventh: Club restrooms should not be used for sex. Most gothy-type clubs don’t have very large or numerous restrooms, and it is terribly, terribly rude to monopolize one just because you and the fascinating creature you met are impatient. If you refuse to listen to the Lady of the Manners on this point, then at the very least tidy up after yourselves when you’re done. Make sure everyone has their clothes and belongings and clean up any . . . evidence. Messes. Oh, you know what the Lady of the Manners is getting at.
See? A whole batch of useful information, and not once did the Lady of the Manners start ranting about politeness on the dance floor or tipping the bartenders. In fact, the effort of restraining her fingers from tapping out those very rants has left the Lady of the Manners with the need to go lie down and have a soothing cup of tea. In the meanwhile, all of you darlings can think of etiquette questions and send them off to firstname.lastname@example.org.