Durham’s Asexual Initiative

Have we killed the thrill of the kiss?

I have just discovered what may be the world’s worst concept for what constitutes nightclub entertainment. And it’s being brought to you courtesy of our very own Durham Live, the former home of Walkabout/ The Academy, AKA that usually half-empty hall on North Road. Their stellar new attempt to attract the student body to its tiles each and every Saturday night is something oh-so sophisticatedly branded as “Snog Saturdays”.

If the title alone sounds awful enough, wait until you hear the premise. The bar staff will allegedly set about challenging punters to pull someone – yes, anyone – in the immediate thirty seconds and if this ahem, “lucky” person succeeds, then they will be presented with a…. you guessed it, free drink.

For all nightclub cynics, this probably sounds pretty much along the lines of most students’ nights out on the town in our quaint little city. After all, isn’t the heady promise of cheaper inebriation and an ever cheaper pull the unique selling point that the illustrious Klute has to offer? Hey, Durham Live is even bound to play some similarly cheesy tunes to assure you that you’re still in the bosom of our beloved bubble.

Well for someone who is a little less sceptical about people locking lips on the dancefloor, this sounds pretty much like the worst thing to happen to the Durham “sex”(-related) scene since someone deemed it appropriate to wear leggings as trousers (note to all: if someone has not shown an interest in seeing your crotch, there’s really no need for you to display it).

Okay, now superficially this latest tacky ploy to get students frittering away their loans may seem to have little to do with sex. If we extrapolate the club’s likely occupation from the one and admittedly only time I visited, there will only be about ten people outside. You will have come with more than half of them. It seems likely that all this “challenge” will fuel is that supposedly “hilarious” idea of friends locking lips in order to score cheap booze. Now I’m by no means adverse to some same-sex tonsil hockey but pimping yourselves out for something as lousy as a free drink is probably the worst you could do. Hey, find some randoms reared in the middle of nowhere, and you’ll probably score more than a free drink for the very same act.

But, I digress. The real reason for my disparagement of this latest offering is that we’re chalking up one more point under the apparent “sex is dead” category. The suggestion that snogging for free drinks (and let’s not even get started on the word “snog”) is just part and parcel of a night out is pretty depressing.

I am one of those rare, possibly disturbingly naive people, who don’t believe that all the magic has quite gone from nightclub hook-ups. I realise I am probably alone on this. I realise almost each and every time I try to defend the whole notion of swapping saliva (yes, even that synonym is preferable) with a virtual stranger on a dancefloor.

There seems to persist the mystifying conviction that “nice” people don’t visit nightclubs. It’s astonishing the number of people willing to frequent these places fully under the impression that they’re a decent human being but who believe that everyone else in the place not already of their acquaintance isn’t even worth the time of, well, midnight. Now I’m not totally unappreciative of the point they’re making. With deafening music and everyone a little worse for wear, the chances of actually hearing, and then remembering, a stranger’s life story the next morning isn’t exactly the highest.

But I have faith. For if our greatest literary lovers, Romeo and Juliet, met at a party then why can’t we? Why is the breakneck speed from which they moved from strangers to bedfellows not regarded as tawdry when any two teens who hooked up with such rapidity in the modern day world would probably be branded with some rather nasty nicknames?

I’m by no means advocating searching the dancefloor for drunkards (or anyone underage, a la Romeo), but I don’t think meeting people under the influence of a wee bit of alcohol and in a mostly-darkened place should be completely derided. In the ideal world we’d all feel confident and secure enough sober to approach someone who we believed to be attractive. But hey, in the ideal world there would be no chance of rejection either.

When I stumbled across the statistic that most women said New Year’s Eve was the day of the year that they would be most likely to have a one night stand, I tried to look upon it without disdain. I didn’t want to presume that most of them were merely pre-empting the likelihood of making a drunken mistake and that they’d wake up the next morning dogged by regret. Instead, I like to think that they were anticipating how the celebratory atmosphere would truly encourage them to lose their inhibitions, cast off their cares and actually return to the basics of animal attraction.

Other cultures may find our predisposition towards binge-drinking hard to grasp but in a way this seemingly unnatural behaviour is all geared towards returning us towards our animal instincts. We have commercialised, anaesthetized and professionalised the hell out of our existence. Whether it be spending all day staring at mind-numbing screens, using public transport, eating pre-packaged crap that tastes of cardboard or filling in mindless forms for “monitoring” purposes, we seem to be living a world away from what our natural instincts are probably crying out for. There’s nothing less sensual, or erotic than modern-day drudgery.

Undoubtedly advances in our sex lives have also become a little less than natural. And, for the most part, that’s a good thing. When it comes to contraceptives, there is no way I would advise going back to our primitive basics. And the awkward angst of three-day-ruling someone you have swapped numbers with in a club is one those painful experiences that will (hopefully) only cause us amusement later in life.

But removing some of the over-intellectualising out of the equation of attraction should be embraced. When the harsh light of day dawns the next morning, that’s when we start playing by all the crazy dating rules our nightmarish culture has enshrined in our susceptible minds. Sometimes we need the hedonisitic onslaught of bad music, some (yes, not masses of) alcohol and dim lights to feel the thrill should be inherent every time we lock lips. And for everyone who feels differently…. check out Durham Live tomorrow night.

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