The ending of ‘Bob and Rose’ is just as lovely as everything which came before. As the simple and romantic xylophone theme song reaches a glorious climax, the various single characters, straight women and gay men, are shown getting ready to go out on the town. “You gotta get out there!” Holly tries to convince her reluctant friend on the phone. “Anything can happen! One of these nights, we’re going to get lucky!” A chorus of cell phone conversations about where to meet up, what shoes to wear and past and future hook-ups (“Did he call you back?” “Bollocks he did!”) rises above the Manchester skyline. Coupled with shots of a strob-lighted dance floor, Holly delivers a stream of consciousness ode to clubbing, a rosary chant for the single girl:
“It’s Saturday night. It’s Happy Hour. It’s Ladies’ Night. It’s Singles’ Night. It’s ‘girls get in for free’. It’s cueing up in the rain, and dancing in the heat. It’s every pub and every bar and every club and every single one of us.” The scene of dancing straights is interspersed with scenes of Bob’s friends at gay bars, cruising and strutting around not unlike the triad of ‘Queer as Folk’. The climax argues that gay, straight, female, male, we’re all the same and that being single and going out clubbing is just as valid a happy ending as being in a monogamous couple. Compare this with the standard romantic comedy end in which every character pairs off or disappears.
If it’s a truth universally acknowledged in British TV that any problem can be helped by a cup of tea, ‘going out’ as a solution comes a close second. Every age group in the United Kingdon and Ireland seems to get out and have fun more than their equivalents in stick-in-the-mud North America: old men nurse pints in pubs, young people do tequila shots, middle-aged ladies don feather boas and pink cowboy hats for hen parties.
Knowing not a soul in Dublin when I moved there, I had to go out in order to make friends and not spend my evenings watching ‘Golden Girls’ on my laptop. Sometimes, nothing happened. But sometimes I met new people, danced until my legs ached, kissed a random guy (there was a tendency to treat making out like the equivalent of a ‘thank you for the dance’ handshake). The night when I forced myself to talk to a group of Americans, made friends with a wonderful girl from California (“Max, you’re such a beautiful person!”), made out with an adorable Irish guy (after, startled by his advance, I knocked his cigarette out of his hand, alsmot burning myself), and walked home in a daze, with five new numbers in my mobile, was probably the most fun night of my life.
And even the nights went something went wrong were good for a funny story, like the time the twink I had been dancing with all night started makin out with another guy right in front of me (“What cheek!” my new fag hag friend declared) or on Halloween when I got kicked out of the bar for allegedly being too drunk. I loved walking back home to my little apartment in Ranelagh, just outside city centre. One night in the rain, a drunk young woman joined me as to not have to walk by herself. Another time, I made friends with a group who were walking behind me after I laughed at their funny stories of waking up in the garden: “Oh! I’ve gone to far! I’ve slept in soil!” I joined them for “chippies”. It was remarkable how much life you could see walking hom at three am: people texting or yelling into phones, couples making out or fighting, guys peeing or vomiting.
Truth is, friends you make superficially often end up being only superficial friends: I never saw the “chippies” gang again, not the cute Irish boy I made out with. I moved home largely because I felt like I had roots here that needed to be tended rather than continuing planting seeds in inhospitable foreign soil.
But I’ve stopped going out in Toronto. I had a number of reasons: people here are less friendly; Church Street is dead; it’s too expensive; too tiring; too cold. They are all pathetic excuses. I worried that the chattiness of Irish clubbers had spoiled me for going out in Canada, but it’s a self-fulfilling prophecy if I never make the effort to go out and give new people a chance.
I miss dancing. I miss finally getting inside a warm bar. I miss the irreplaceable feeling of getting slightly shit-faced in public. Most of all, I miss the expectation of the beginning of the night, when anything’s possible.
Despite my achey legs, I’m not old yet. There’s still time to be Nathan from ‘Queer as Folk’ or Holly from ‘Bob and Rose’. Despite my two new jobs, my responsibilities at WORN and my need to save up for India, I’m getting out there once again.
It’s all happenin’.