IT’S 9pm on a Saturday in Cork City, and Rachel, Caroline, Emer and Cara are looking for a nightclub. They aren’t fussy about music or decor; they just want to get in somewhere. Two of the girls are aged 19 and two are 18, so it’s hard to find a club that will accept them all. “There used to be Gorby’s, but since that closed, there’s nowhere really,” says Cara.
“Mostly, it’s over-21s. You go to a place one week, it’s fine, and then the next week, they say ‘we’re actually 19s-only this week.” Opposite the group, on Oliver Plunkett Street, is one of the busiest nightclub complexes in the city. It’s early, but groups of young people have begun congregating outside.The girls have been served in that bar in the past, but they were turned away last week, so, tonight, they are off to try their luck on French Church Street.
Why is it so hard to get into a nightclub in Cork when you’re old enough to vote or get married? ‘‘It can get messy, you know, with girls falling around the place, club-related injuries, that sort of thing. There was one stage where all of our sixth year was in the A&E, it seemed like,” says Cara.
They drink on a night out, they say, but getting drunk before the club is a no-no.
“The bouncers take one look at you and say ‘no way’, and then your friend has to stay with you and mind you and that’s not fair,” Rachel says.
Further down the Grand Parade, a group of lads is in the same predicament as the girls. Robert, Jack, Ciarán and Josh have been going out as a group “for about the last year”. The other boys are 19, but Robert is 18 and he has the same trouble as Emer and Cara in finding a pub that will let him in.
“Not enough places are 18s on a Saturday. Young people can only go out in this city on a Tuesday and a Thursday, and it’s not fair,” he says.
“There’s this perception that you have to be 18 to start enjoying yourself, but here you can’t actually begin to enjoy yourself until you’re 21,” Robert says.
“It’s because when the college year starts, all the bars change the age to over-19s,” says Josh. This seems cynical on the part of the publicans, but Josh may be right. Jennifer and Katie stop for a quick photo on their way to a popular cocktail bar at the bottom of The Grand Parade. They are both 18, dressed up, and looking forward to a drink.
Katie’s make-up is elaborate, including false eyelashes (‘I’m addicted’). She’s planning on having a cocktail. “Sex on the beach is my favourite,” she says.
Jennifer will have a Malibu and coke. They’re out for the night “until about one or two”, says Jennifer. Five minutes later, they are back. The bar is over-21s tonight. The girls can’t get in. Where will they go now? “We don’t know, there’s nowhere to go, really, it’s all closed down,” says Katie. With that they’re off, linking arms up the street, 18 in Cork City on a Saturday night, all dressed up and nowhere to go.
IT’S a Monday night and it’s raining, but there’s a buzz in London. The few people on the streets are damned if a little rain will stop them having a good time. Outside a comedy club near Leicester Square, Mike, 19 and Chris, 20, are on a night out. It’s not rare for Mike, even on a Monday. “I’ll go out as often as I can afford it,” he says. “I’ll usually spend at least £100 on a night out and usually drink till very drunk. Unfortunately, I’ve built up a tolerance to alcohol, so I have to drink a lot more to get there, which can be expensive.”
Chris is low-key, despite having performed a set at the club. “I rarely drink on week nights and only usually have four or five pints,” he says. “This is a special occasion. I prefer to drink to have fun, but, sometimes, it doesn’t work out that way.”
Expensive nights are typical in London. Kai, 19, and Kitty, 21, are a student couple on their way to a pub. “I’ll spend at least £50 on a night out, but will drink a lot beforehand,” says Kai. “It’s the best way to afford it. When I’m out, I’ll drink whatever gets me drunk the quickest, such as triple vodkas and shots.”
Drugs are easily found. “It’s impossible to walk through Soho at night without someone offering to sell you drugs,” says Kai. “They’re so easy to come across in London.”
It’s a student night, so it is high tops and skinny jeans, not high heels and short skirts.
French and Italian students are heading to the Zoo Club. Giovanni, 19; Matteo, 21; Lucy, 22, and Chloe, 21, study, work and party together. They tease each other about how much they each drink. Even at a young age, they’re laid back about their night out, and aren’t worried about where they’ll end up or what music they hear. “I don’t have just one type of music on my iPod, so why should I listen to just one type when I’m out,” says Matteo.
They go out as often as they can afford on their part-time wages. “We’ve just got paid, so it’ll be a late one tonight, but the further from pay day we are, the less we go out,” says Giovanni. They look young and are often asked for ID by bouncers. It doesn’t bother them, though, as they’re out for fun rather than to get drunk. “We just want to have a good time and London is full of nice people, so we usually do,” says Lucy.
They agree that having fun and meeting people is the key ingredient to a good night out. “There’s never any hassle, especially not in the student clubs,” says Kai. “There’s a good vibe in the city. It’s only when guys start coming onto my girlfriend that there’s a problem.”
Even at the end of the night, Matteo says they meet nice people on the journey home. “We usually get the bus home, as it’s cheaper than a taxi, but we’ve never had any trouble on it.”
IT costs around $50 for two fake IDs in Toronto. No questions are asked when purchasing these “souvenir” IDs, but it’s important to dress for the occasion.
“You walk up the stairs of this little store and put all your fake info on a sheet and this guy processes it,” says Julian, 17. “He takes your picture twice. You put on a shirt first, then you take it off because you want to dress different for the other card.
“Sometimes it’s a real sketchy guy that gives you bad vibes and you want to leave, but it only takes ten minutes.”
Julian and his friends, Will, 18, and Elliot, 18, and Iliya, 17, all have fake IDs — so do the majority of their friends. The teens go out almost every weekend and attempt to buy alcohol and gain entry into Toronto pubs and “jams” using a mishmash of fake student cards, out-of-province IDs and doctored health cards.
“Usually we don’t get carded,” says Will. “Yeah,” interrupts Julian. “Because we can grow facial hair.”
Tonight they’re heading to a frat party close to the University of Toronto. It’s for college students, but the 12 or so guys who have gathered in Ilyia’s house to pre-drink have their fingers crossed their IDs will get them in. They drink beer, rum and vodka while listening to music; they don’t need to keep it down, the “rents” are out for the evening.
“I’d say the average we drink before we head out is between three and five tall cans,” says Will. “Then we usually get pretty drunk. We go hard, but not like fall down drunk.” Iliya explains: “Going hard is getting wasted to the point of perfection.”
Because they’re going to a themed frat party the guys are all decked out in jerseys, but usually wear whatever is clean or t-shirts on a night out. Fashion is not high on their radar. The ladies, however, catch their eye — in particular, the “biddies”.
“They wear ridiculously tight clothing, which they seem to think is attractive to us, but it really isn’t,” says Will. “They don’t dress like sluts, but …they do dress like sluts.”
“We’re generalising a lot here,” says Elliot. “Yeah,” says Will.
The guys’ female friends aren’t at the pre-party, but give their side later on. “Our group doesn’t dress like that,” says Madeline, 17. “Biddies usually overdress wearing really short dresses and lots of cleavage.”
“Basically anything we would wear to a party doesn’t really deviate that much from what we’d wear normally,” agrees Claudia, 17.
“Except when we have to go to the bars, then we have to dress like a slut, or with a lot of make-up and hope they let you in,” Nuala, 17 laughs.
After a couple hours drinking the guys down their last shots, finish their cans and leave straggling through the snow to get to the frat party.
As the sound of their good natured ribbing, raucous laughter and half-hearted bickering fades, it’s obvious they’re still boys at heart.