COLM O'REGAN: Opening Lines: It’s been a while since I’ve been in a nightclub queue

Walking up the street after a night-out, home at a reasonable hour to let the babysitter go home, we saw it. A nightclub queue. One that was of proper Celtic Tiger length.

A queue of hopefuls. All shirty-skirty-skittish-corny-horny. Jinks were high. Play was horse-like. No doubt, the queue contained a sprinkling of absolute legends, as well. And I missed being in one. It’s been a while.

My queues now are for the odd airport security check, ferociously unpacking a laptop, ripping off a belt and shoes like there’s going to be hanky panky, but all I’m doing is trying to impress the metal-detector people.

Or I queue to deliberately avoid someone asking me if I know how to use a machine in the bank, or I queue for the toilet at a match, with someone shouting ‘AH, COME ON, HURRY UP, DON’T BE TALKING TO IT’ and ‘A PURE BOLLOX, THE REF’.

Or I queue to get chips, but I don’t, because I ring the chipper ahead now, so I breeze in like The Chip Police. Most of my ‘queuing’ is done on the phone, when dealing with whatever whine I have is down their list of priorities.

I’m in very few-slash-no nightclub queues now. I miss the hope, but not the uncertainty, wondering whether I would get in, appraising the state of those who were stopped and those who were let in, applying that scale to my own flutheriness and making alternating hopeful or pessimistic assessments. As I got older, the chance of getting in increased a little.

You were able to look the bouncer in the eye, man to man or man to woman. Just two working people, exchanging a nod to say ‘Shur, Lookit, This Is It’, ‘Hah Tis, You Said It, True For You’.

You couldn’t be looking the bouncer in the eye as a student, for ‘99p Night’ in Gorbys, back in the day. You were already a gobshite in his eyes. Full-up on wine drunk from a bottle in ‘one-a-de-lads’ houses on Gillabbey street.

Opened with the back of a knife and a tea-towel. 4 punts a bottle. By alcohol percentage, cheaper than cans.

Hopefully, it was processed by the time you got to the queue or you would be told to take the original walk of shame.

“Gwanaway and have some coffee for yourself” and I remember the injustice, because I didn’t even like coffee, but I couldn’t very well come back stinking of tea.

Of course, the holy grail was to skip the queue. This was reserved for those in the know. I was never one of those. It is a deep-seated human trait that enjoyment of any situation is accentuated by exclusivity.

A few years ago, a friend of a friend was opening up a new nightclub. I was not a regular night-clubber even then, as I was already of the view the music was too loud and my unorthodox good looks meant I needed conversation to get a shift. But when someone offered me a VIP ticket, it all changed.

A new jumper was bought specifically for the occasion. Some ‘product’ was put in the hair. It was important to look the part. Imagine my chagrin to find a long queue outside, of people all carrying the same piece of silvery cardboard.

We all looked at each other in disgust. It appeared the affair wasn’t as exclusive as we thought.

As each new person arrived to join the queue, the prestige of those already there was diluted, until it was effectively worthless. It was like your parents watching the value of their Eircom shares decline.

When we all got in, it turned out there was a VVIP section. While price inflation has remained constant in Ireland in the last decade or so, importance inflation is rampant.

Everyone is a VIP. Which is good for self-esteem, until you find out there are VVIPs. I think I’ll just stand in the queue.


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