Finding Community In The Night Life

When I moved to Amsterdam, like a rite of passage, I became very interested in the techno scene, and after several nights of trial and error, I developed a weekly ritual. It is hard to avoid this community when, during the ADE (Amsterdam Dance Event), you’ll encounter DJs playing at your local grocery store early on a Thursday morning, or on the tram on the way to work. Nonetheless, I don’t like to think this lifestyle was imposed on me but pushed me to find new inspirations. Ever since then, I feel my life has changed, and although this is in parallel to starting university, my evolution should also attributed to Amsterdams’ nightlife.

A crowd turned into a community

As far as I know, or I have experienced, clubbing is the only social event we willingly attend that is disconnected from our attachment to our digital media. If it’s dancing we long for, we could just as easily dance anywhere else, at any time during the day. If it’s drinking and socializing, there are other, more comfortable ways to do so that would not require one to stay awake past 5 a.m., but instead, we persevere throughout the night and into the morning for what? The simple answer could be that it is our human nature to find small connections wherever we go. I find this fascinating because this very raw desire is not fulfilled anymore like it was before digitalization, and we in fact would rather do certain activities throughout the day alone than have to rely on other people, like self-scanner in grocery store checkouts. Some decades ago, your everyday lives were dependent on other people. Now, with the small glimpses we have with each other, those moments have become more meaningful. For, maybe you don’t even talk to someone, or even smile or say hi, but the sheer fact that everyone has collectively decided they would rather dance together than alone is what makes the crowd more of a community.

With this statement, though I am neglecting those who go to these events for socializing, however, this can also attest to being an anti-social media practice. After a few glasses of whatever you’re drinking, a small and courteous greeting grows into an intensely ambitious conversation where you both vow to have brunch the next day, this approach hasn’t been normalized anywhere else, and it especially cannot be replicated in Instagram DMs and is, therefore, a sacred networking tradition associated with clubbing. 

Is clubbing an organic way to meet people?

This all leads me to wonder if there is another way for us to socialize in such an informal way, to connect with people with no barriers and just let loose in a boundless place. I question what could be considered an organic way of meeting someone. Clubbing is not entirely organic, because there is an aura of expectation to meet new people or to hook up with someone when inebriated and more “free-spirited”. However, because the majority of people use social media apps to meet people, whether it is for dating, meeting friends, or networking, any interaction outside of that sphere would be less forced. Moreover, the limitless nature of it allows for more sincere and genuine interactions.

At the end of the day, it’s endearing and heartwarming to observe the little things that humans do to find connections and communities, and clubbing is obviously not the only thing we have left after digitalization. However, to me, and many of my friends, it’s giving to have a weekly ritual to celebrate and dance together.