What going to a Techno Party sober and alone taught me
It’s Saturday night and there is a free techno event in one of my favorite clubs in Groningen. Techno has become a huge part of my life since I moved to The Netherlands. I love the music, I love the people in this scene, I love all the love, and sometimes I also love the occasional party drug to enhance the experience. Said Saturday night I feel this strange urge, that usually starts hitting me around Thursday every week. It’s the urge to dance. It has almost become like a necessity for me. Like food, breathing, and human connection, dancing has become a part of the things I need to survive. Dancing is my way of expressing myself, when I dress up in my funky clothes and I head to the front of the dance floor, right in front of the DJ booth, when I close my eyes; I completely become myself. I fear no judgment, all the other people fade away, it’s just me, the DJ and the music. Yet at the same time, when I do open my eyes, I see those beautiful bright lights, I see the shadows of like-minded people, all moving to the same rhythm that binds us all, yet everyone experiencing something unique. Throughout all of this, I always have the reassurance, that somewhere, a few rows of sweaty dancers behind me, my friends are dancing, or they are sitting somewhere in a chill area having a cigarette or a joint. I am never completely alone in the sea of connected strangers.
To come back to this Saturday: I text the usual suspects, but no one wants to go out. It’s almost the end of the third block, and people are tired, busy or a combination of both. Gone are the 4 day long weekends, drinking wine and staying up till 5 on a Tuesday night. Now everyone wants to study, or play board games and drink tea. So, at 1 am, after repeated begging, multiple rejections, and serious contemplation, I head off. By myself. The bouncer sees me and waves me through. I walk up the steep metal stairs, already feeling the floor vibrating. The club is buzzing, it’s hard to get past the people. People’s gazes pass my face for a few seconds, before returning their attention to their balloon/friend/beer, as I squeeze past them. Finally, I arrive at the front. This is hard for me: I am 100% sober and don’t know anyone. Filled with anxieties and the feeling that everyone is staring at me, I stand in the corner by the speakers. The music is amazing, but inside me, my love for the music and my all too human fears are fighting an intense battle. The fear is about to take over and I contemplate going home. I take a deep breath. This is my scene, I belong here. I position myself right in the middle of the crowd and start swinging my hips, flipping my hair and thrusting my fist into the air. Nervously I keep looking around; „Do people notice me? Do they notice I am alone? Do they think I have no friends?“ Then I start to focus on the music, the actual reason I am here. I close my eyes and start moving with more confidence. All the fears start fading. I don’t need the reassurance of people dancing next to me, to know what I am worth. I can have fun by myself.
That night I discovered a lot about myself. I ended up dancing till 4:30. Sweaty and content I biked home. I discovered that I enjoy my own company a lot. I don’t have to consider other people's wishes, I don’t need to take breaks. I realized that it is not necessary to care about what other people think if you are confident in yourself and feel like you belong exactly in this space, then other people will sense that confidence, and accept you among them. I discovered that doing things out of your comfort zone empowers you, it pushes you further and makes you a more complete person. You will never grow if you don’t explore outside of what you already know.
I discovered that techno is equally as good when you are sober, if not better. This is because you can hear the different sounds much clearer as your mind is not clouded. The adrenaline from dancing, and the bass that throbs all the way to your heart create a different state of consciousness, without the need for any substances. I didn’t spend a single cent that night, I consumed no shots, no balloons, no beer, and no drugs, and I remember the entire night. My dance moves resembled less one of a staggering drunkard, rather, I was actually able to coordinate all my limbs, to move the way I wanted them to.
People are incredibly kind. I met strangers, one of which actually became my friend. Someone invited me over for french fries. People shared cigarettes with me. Overall it was an incredible experience that I recommend to everyone. It does require some guts to do; but if you fully accept your solitude, and challenge the social norms that dictate our behavior, you can truly outgrow yourself, and learn a thing or two.