I so rarely go out on Friday nights, I'm excited that I went out last night. One of my Polish readers is in town, and I suggested we meet after she saw some sights. (Edinburgh Castle is amazing, but there are only so many times a permanent resident of Edinburgh wants to wander around the Castle.) My proposed venue was the Polish vodka bar, as she has been living outwith Poland for years.
When I was single, especially when I was young and single, I thought it was utterly horrible not to go out on Friday night. And I could not understand why my parents did not go out on Friday nights. From what I saw on television, adults were supposed to be at nightclubs. And even in books adults were at nightclubs. Why did my weird parents not take advantage of their freedom, money and escape from the tyranny of their own parents to go to nightclubs?
It was because they didn't actually LIKE nightclubs. At least, my father didn't like them, and my mother hated what happened to pop music after the Beatles, except for the Swedish Beatles, aka ABBA. And no doubt they were too tired from a week of working and parenting to want to do much more than watch television and--in my mother's case--crochet.
I should really learn to crochet because on Friday night B.A. does not really want to do much more than watch television and I have learned from experience that the Goth scene in Edinburgh is pretty pathetic, and most of the Goths look sixteen years old, and I no longer get a buzz simply from being in a club that plays Goth stuff.
From a meeting-people point of view, going to any club is a stupid idea, for dancing at clubs (especially Goth clubs) is a solipsistic activity, and the music is too loud for anyone to say much, and the drinks are usually terrible. Now that I am 39++, I do not want alchopop, I want an excellent cocktail or vodka, and now that I know more about vodka, I do not want Smirnoff, I want Chopin.*
No, for meeting members of the opposite sex, I recommend that you all take up partner dancing, especially the tango, and join a local partner dancing society. Partner dancing is a community activity, and you are expected to chat between breaks, and the drinks are besides the point. Drunkenness is definitely discouraged, and men are there primarily to dance, not to drink or pick up chicks. Men and women are prized by each other as people to dance with, and the rules of dancing offer is a return to old-fashioned gender roles and courtesy.
I am not particularly interested in meeting members of the opposite sex, so I am unlikely to develop an interest in partner dancing for my own sake. But I do like meeting up with women around my own age for delicious drinks, and I also like Polish stuff, including vodka so good one sips it like wine. Thus, I have been longing to have a good excuse to go to the Polish vodka bar, and my Polish reader provided it. Yay!
Although Top 40 dance hits blared from a speaker, it was a comfortable place to have a three-hour girl-chat and drink a lot of really good vodka. From now on, readers who want to see me in Edinburgh after six will be taken to the Polish vodka bar, so be warned. Polish, incidentally, is now the second language of the United Kingdom, except perhaps in Wales, so for a real taste of Modern Britain, you ought to do or eat or drink something Polish.
Meanwhile, the Polish vodka bar was interesting in that the men lined up along the actual bar were not all Polish. They were a mix of Poles and Scots, and I saw one South Asian man who might have been what is called a New Scot. Women did not stand there with them, but sat at tables with their friends. And although the men at the bar occasionally turned around and looked at the women at the tables, they kept to themselves. The servers--Polish girls all--were very nice and chatted with my reader and me in Polish and English.
At about ten my reader and I went out into the gloaming--at this time of year it does not get dark until about 10:15 PM--and went for a walk in the light rain before getting our bus. And I was reminded of why I really don't mind staying at home on a Friday night when I heard drunk young men baying at the top of their lungs. Fortunately, we were on our bus by 11 PM, which was still relatively early. What makes Edinburgh--and, indeed, many British cities--so unpleasant on Friday and Saturday nights are noisy crowds of drunken, shouting men and shrieking, stumbling women.
*As most North American readers will know, the screwdriver is a cocktail consisting of vodka and orange juice. For years I hated the taste of vodka without orange juice, and now I know that this is because the kind of vodka you mix with orange juice is disgusting and there is no excuse for it.
UPDATE: My friend lives in Pittsburgh, and that reminds me that it might be time to have Seraphic Singles evenings without me. I know there's a reader in Washington DC who wants to meet up with other readers, and there are multiple readers in many American cities. I am pondering how to make it easier for readers who want to meet each other to meet each other. Possibly I need team captains. More on this anon.