Faking 25

Oct 6, 2013 by

          Once upon a time, I loved euro. It reminded me of my childhood. My dad used to let my sisters and I dress up in our previous year’s Halloween princess costumes in the middle of July, blast euro throughout the house, and dance until our mom came home to ruin the party. (I have the coolest dad in the world. I know. He used to drive my high school friends and I to and from all ages clubs in the early hours of the morning, my Tinker Bell tutu traded for a miniskirt and my magic wand suddenly resembling a vodka-filled water bottle.) Growing up, my life’s goal was to be 19, so I could go to Wayback Wednesday at Ménage. I thought that I’d never get there. I had a legitimate fear that I’d die too young to ever experience Toronto’s home of euro. (Yes, not getting to Ménage was my top concern surrounding my potential premature demise. I clearly had my priorities straight as a kid.) When I finally got my hands on a fake at 18 (my cousin is a goddess!), Ménage was my first order of business. Life goal accomplished.

          Ironically, by 19, clubbing had lost its lustre. For one, I was legally allowed in. No last-minute glances at my ID to remind myself that I was either 21 or 22, but definitely not 18; no fumbling for my backup, valid fake (which looked much less like me than its expired counterpart) when a bouncer pulled out a scanner; and no assurance that almost every guy in the club was older than me. Where was the fun in that? Furthermore, adulthood was becoming more and more of a reality. Friendships were changing, and clubbing wasn’t as effective at numbing loneliness as it had been at bandaging bad days at work. Thus, on my nineteenth birthday, I pulled out my fake for one last go (I didn’t turn 19 until midnight) before bidding it goodbye, along with the Toronto clubs that could no longer save me.

          That is, until I decided to embark on a clubbing experiment at The Thompson Hotel in June, my Press Play Pro boys opening my mind to the possibility of re-liking something that I once loved. Secretly, in addition to that venture, I had been contemplating attending (and by that, I mean, avoiding) Wayback Wednesday (no longer at its original home of Ménage, where a restaurant now stands, but still in existence). Toying with the idea all summer, I took my procrastination to the extreme, waiting until this month to attempt to execute this happiness experiment. With winter nearing, I could not keep prolonging it. There would be no chance of me trekking through the cold for waybacks come the snow. My mentality was similar to that of my clubbing experiment: I needed to know if I had lost interest in euro as a result of my depression or if I had simply outgrown it.

          After months of delay, this past Wednesday was to be the night. I had doubled my regular weekday workout so I could sleep in before work on Thursday, my hair was good to go from the morning, and it was warm enough outside to walk around in a sheer blouse without a jacket in October (where was this weather in the summer?). It was time. I drove down the highway, windows down and waybacks blaring. Show Me Love by Robin S could not have had better timing. I can do this, I thought. After exiting at Spadina, I made a left on King W in pursuit of my usual free street parking. (As much as I dislike King W, it is reminiscent of this year’s summer. Given that it serves as my parking spot, I begin and end most of my nights spent downtown there. I can withstand the slut show for a few minutes each time that I walk to and from my destination in order to spare my bank account unnecessary withdrawals.)

          Car parked, I headed east, crossing the threshold into the Entertainment District that I frequented as a teenager. Chills ran my spine as I passed the club that hosted my Friday nights at 18. I’ve yet to disclose the name of this club, which set me free every Friday, half a decade ago. I’ve comfortably discussed my speed dating menstrual mishap and nonchalantly mentioned the late loss of my virginity at 19, but it is revealing the name of my once favourite club that makes me feel exposed. This may seem illogical. Those with an appreciation for the benefits of nightlife just may be able to relate. As I’ve previously said, to me, it was not just a club; it was my escape. As such, it held a sacredness that only I and a select few, who also regularly used it as a getaway, could conceive. Revealing it feels personal. Although it’s long closed, I feel like I’m letting everyone in on my secret, causing its memory to somehow be filled with all of the people I went there to avoid (the Wetbar types, to be specific) and tainting its significance. Well, here goes. Deep breath, deep breath, deep breath: I ran away to Hotel. Hotel erased my days at my soul-sucking job. Hotel woke me up from my own personal hell every weekend. Hotel gave me life.

          Shaking off the nostalgia as best I could to prevent myself from becoming emotional at the sight of a spot that will always pull at my heart, I kept walking. Silence cast shadows over the part of Toronto that falls dead between weekends. I shuddered at the memories colliding with every step I took up an empty Peter St toward Richmond: promoters flashing flyers, gross guys calling me everything except my name, and girls struggling to walk straight. I was nearly sick to my stomach at the physical reminder of the fictitious world of acquaintances faking friendships that flourished on Friday and Saturday nights alone. The remains of the closed clubs that previously housed such an imagined sense of community were hitting me hard. I may have underestimated my readiness for this, I thought. Not one to back down from a happiness experiment, though, I forced myself forward.

          Turning the corner to see the club that did not represent the Wayback Wednesdays of my time, I inhaled deeply in preparation for what I was about to do. This could be fun, I tried to remember. As I got closer, those things that helped set a divider between myself and Toronto nightlife were coming into view: the young, stuck-up crowd; the grungy club itself; and the glow sticks. Oh God, the glow sticks. How had I forgotten about them? (I have obviously gotten very good at mentally blocking bad memories out of my mind. Defense mechanisms are fab.) I was too old for this. The $15 cover confirmed it. This girl does not pay, especially not $15, to get into a Toronto club. Fuck. That. Without entering, I had the answer that I needed: some things are meant to remain in the past.

          Now past midnight on a Wednesday night in an apparently deserted Toronto, I was unimpressed to be searching for a backup plan. Not about to go home (I had doubled my workout in preparation to stay out late, after all), I headed back to King. There was a wine bar there that had caught my attention a month prior. Maybe it would be open, I hoped. Along the way, now back on the west side of Spadina (you know, where the cool, trying-and-failing-to-be-sophisticated twenty-somethings chill – cue my eye roll), I heard music coming from an alleyway. Stopping to look, I noticed a venue dressed in purple lights that I’ve repeatedly passed since the beginning of the summer. There were times when I almost went in, attracted to its obscurity, being that it is hidden deep between the walls of its two neighbouring buildings. Drawn by the sounds erupting from its gates, I crossed the street in curiosity with the intent to finally enter.

          A closer look revealed that it was a restaurant and lounge – a 25 plus restaurant and lounge. Sold. I would be surrounded by a crowd of people who were all guaranteed to be older than me. (With many of my friends being five plus years my senior, I strongly prefer places where people my age and younger are kept to a minimum.) Still caught in a trance at the thought of the exciting turn of events my night was taking, I almost didn’t notice my best friend walking away.

          “Well, we’ll see this place in a couple of years,” I heard her say in disappointment.

          “Wait!” I shouted after her. I had to try. I walked up to the guys manning the doors, a cute smile perfectly aimed in their direction. “Hi! What are my chances of you letting me in if I’m not 25?” I asked.

          “We’ll have to think about that,” one said with a grin. I knew I had him.

          “As in, what if I’m 23?” I probed to secure my in, innocently tilting my head to the left.

          “We’re thinking really hard about this,” he joked before stamping my hand. Happiness tip #52 (ask, and thou shall receive) is magic.

          I walked through the doors and passed tables to get to a backroom filled with guys in suits (hot!) and girls in clothes (thank God!). There is just something about being somewhere you’re too young to enter. Old enough to be legal around the world, I never thought I’d have another opportunity to experience the thrill; yet, on Wednesday night, I was underage all over. That vibrant 18-year-old lost inside of me – the one I spent years hoping to recover – was back. Even better, it was clear that the 23-year-old I’ve become has surpassed my energetic teenaged ghost in terms of sociability, personality, and success (which I define as happiness). No matter how lively and outgoing I was at 18, I wasn’t happy. I cried on my way to work everyday, and used clubbing to wipe the tears. Compared to the horrible years that I didn’t know were soon to come, I was only doing alright. I was just getting by. I was not content. In contrast, at 23, I’m thriving in a blissful state of happiness that I independently composed, making it no one’s for the taking.

          Never needing alcohol to get me going (and thankfully so, because I’ve been condemned to a lifetime of designated driving for as long as I’ve had my license), give me some good music and I can dance until the sun comes up (or the lights turn on in the club, whichever happens first). Predominately focussed on the ’90s with the perfect occasional blend of songs from the 2000s to present, the music was the best I’ve heard anywhere in over five years. Although this does no justice to all of the amazing ’90s hip hop that I moved to, some of my night’s highlights included Lana Del Rey’s Summertime Sadness (I’ve had this song on repeat in the background of my life since the end of August), Beyoncé and Jay Z’s Crazy in Love (enough said), Oasis’ Wonderwall (love it!), Daft Punk’s Get Lucky (my song of the summer), and Robin S’s Show me Love (my song of the summer of 2008)! The icing on the musical cake?

          I stopped dead when I heard it: “I’m coming out of my cage, and I’ve been doing just fine –”

          “No. Fucking. Way!” I screamed at the ceiling, my legs nearly giving way to my shock.

          “Gotta, gotta be down, because I want it all,” the sound of The Killers vibrated the walls, confirming my wish come true. Earlier that night, I had wistfully dreamt aloud of a club that played music typical of the Edge.

          Jumping and spinning on the spot with my hands in the air by this point, I forced a duet with the speakers, yelling in unison, “It started out with a kiss. How did it end up like this? It was only a kiss! It was only a kiss!”

          It took five years, but I think I’ve finally found my new Hotel. (Yes, I reluctantly admit that I enjoyed clubbing on King. I own my hypocrisy.) I loved everything about it: my clothes smelling of alcohol without having sipped a single drink, my toes swimming in the many cocktails that had been spilled into my shoes throughout the evening, my feet repeatedly made victims to the piercing pain of other women’s stilettos, my ears ringing the repercussions of an incredible night, and even my eyes bearing witness to trashy make-out sessions in the middle of the dance floor (please note that I was not a participant in such sessions #girlfriendmaterial). Genuinely happy for the first time in my life at 23, I’ve expressed that I wouldn’t go back to relive any part of my past if given the chance, except maybe one night as the 18-year-old that I held on a pedestal within my life’s timeline for too many years. On Wednesday, I got my night. I was 18 again. The only thing missing? Hot Bartender.

Happiness Tip: Embrace the backup plan.

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