anotherlongshot (anotherlongshot) wrote,

The Malaise of Modernity

Saturday morning, 1 am. Two days after turning 30. I sit by myself in the lounge area of Bang Bang, a presumably new-ish club next to Pan Pacific Hotel. I am here with Hadyu and his friend Melly; they've gone out for a smoke, leaving me with the company of my subpar gin & tonic. The only thing that agrees with me is the hip-hop music; everything else seems capable of irritating me, if they aren't already doing so. Perhaps it's a combination of things: the impending PMS, our taking ages to get to the club, my age, my alone-ness.

And so I sit, surveying the crowd with a scowl on my face. There isn't much of a crowd, just a handful of people standing around or attempting to move to the seductive hip-hop beats. A couple stand out from the crowd: an Asian girl in tight jeans and a tight top, and a Caucasian man in a long-sleeved white shirt, tucked out of his jeans. He is taller, doesn't look too fat, and he is balding. She looks quite pretty from where I'm sitting but I can't make out her face too clearly in the darkness. But they stand out because they are the only people who appear to be engrossed in each other and who are dancing. At the same time, it is also clear that they've only just met; that it is a classic situation of a club pick-up.

I watch as he moves more enthusiastically than her, trying to win her over by what I am guessing are attempts at witty jokes or flirtatious remarks. I am completely unsurprised when I see his hand move down her back to close around her ass.

This scene is depressing as fuck. I don't know why it is, but it is. This alcohol-induced 'dancing', this letting a stranger feel you up, this needing such cheap thrills to feel...something. I am looking at this, and in my mind, I am thinking about John Rawls and his original position - his theory of justice which has at its centre a conception of the self who has a highest-order interest in his/her freedom to frame, revise and rationally pursue his/her own conceptions of the good. It seems to me, judging by this scene, that our highest-order interest is to get laid, and the sheer superficiality of what I am witnessing renders spurious the liberal claim that the regular clubber's conception of the good is morally equivalent to that of someone who goes to bed by 11pm and does not indulge in frivolities that drive the regular clubber.

The malaise of modernity. The loss of some sense of decency, of some notion of what's appropriate, let alone what is right. Is this a sign of my age or of my cynicism? I think all of this, and yet, I don't immediately rule out partaking in this pointless, alcohol-infused, hormones-driven activity myself. In fact, wasn't that the whole point of coming here tonight?

'I am looking forward to my swinging single life,' I told John. But if this 'swinging single life' includes trying to throw myself back into this mindless cruising, this non-discerning between the pleasurable and the good, this divesting myself of my dignity, then I'm not sure there is much to enjoy.

Melly knows a few people at the club from work. She introduces one of them to us: an Asian-Australian (I think) A&O lawyer, tall, really fit, quite good-looking. He goes off to flirt with some random girl after boring small talk. Later, she tells us that he's actually engaged. Even later on, I see him holding hands with some random girl on the dancefloor.

As much as I enjoy the dancing sometimes, I am more and more convinced that a club is where one can find some of the worst aspects of humanity. Is it not rather sad that one needs to drink to some form of oblivion in order to dance? I am spending too much money - wasting too much money - on these pointless drinks, but I don't care, and I get myself another double shot gin & tonic. I enjoy the company of the people that I am with, but I am not feeling it, not the way I really got into it when I went clubbing with Elissa last December. Some drunk guy comes up to us; he came up to us previously. He starts dancing with me. I can't really be bothered, and so I make some half-hearted attempt; suddenly, I feel something cold on my back. I immediately turn and grabbed the shoulders of the 16-year-old white guy who's just spilled his drink on me.

I hate it when this happens. I don't make a fuss though. Drunk guy disappears, and it's us three again, and we try to make the most of it. After a while, they go out for a smoke break. I follow, I see two old-ish men looking at me, beckoning me over. I smile politely and ignore them.

It's 4am. The last drink was way too much. They are hungry, and I am sleepy, and so I head home.


I think I passed out on my bed in between blow-drying my hair and getting up to switch off my desk lamp; I was probably woken up by my dad, who knocked on my door and elicited a grunt in response from me. I was really quite out of it. I wanted to throw up but I was too out of it to drag myself to the kitchen and induce vomit. I think it was interesting that I still washed my hair anyway; I couldn't bear the thought of going to bed with alcohol in my hair, no matter how kind of drunk I was.

I slept till 1.03pm. When I saw the time on my phone, I genuinely thought that it was 1.03am.


Clubbing in Singapore seems a bit depressing (though I think clubbing in Cambridge would be even worse). The expat crowd somehow seems douchey, and local guys tend to be short and unremarkable.

I am trying to focus on being by myself...but I'm so used to having a man in my life in whatever capacity or degree that this feels somewhat strange. The weird thing is, I spent years being single before my relationship with Wei Chuen, so this shouldn't feel alien at all. I suppose the fact of my old age is inducing some anxiety in me.


On another note, meeting Hadyu was great. It's been two years since I last saw him in The Hague. He started at the ICTY at the same time as me and I think we hit it off pretty much immediately. I didn't suspect at all that he's gay until he told me one day; after that, we had a lot of fun gossiping about men. We met at the Cufflink Club for a drink before the clubbing. I totally expected that he'd be late...and he was. The bar was a bit loud so we had to shout, but still managed to have a good conversation. I would like to meet up with him again before I return to Cambridge.


Lastly: at about 5pm yesterday, I was struck by a sudden impulse to copy and paste an email that I composed on my phone the day before to a new message in Gmail and send it to G. The night before, I walked past Potato Head and felt quite emo when some memories came rushing back. John also said that I should just meet him and hope that I would realise that the feelings are gone; the other likely scenario that he put forward was that we'd hook up and he'd disappear again.

I kept my expectations low and therefore told myself to expect that he wouldn't reply, and so I was surprised when I received a reply. Essentially, he's flying somewhere next week and he has classes, etc. until then; he'd be back on the 31st, and it would be easier to fix something then if I'm still around; otherwise, he'd figure something else out.

I remember how badly I'd wanted to see him last year. I'm not yet struck by the same intensity of wanting, and I don't presently expect or want anything from him. I want simply to erase the gap between the person that is in my head and the person that actually exists; bring the former down to the level of the latter. This man made such a huge impact on me that I really feel as if I need to normalise it somehow, so...

I don't know. I'm getting fat from pigging out on local food, and so I shall go for a run.
Tags: clubbing, drinking, friends, g, philosophy, relationships

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