When I was 14, I got my first ever boyfriend. We weren’t serious, at least not compared to my long-term relationship with the next boyfriend I had, which lasted on and off from ages 15 to 22.
My first boyfriend was 19 years old, and was my best friend’s boyfriend’s best friend. (You might need to read that sentence a few times.) We only dated for a few months, and I thought I was in love, but in retrospect I wasn’t.
My boyfriend had a car and a job, which I thought was amazing. No one else I knew had a car or a job! (Except for my parents and other very old people.) The girls at school teased me, saying I’d invented an imaginary boyfriend, but I didn’t care. My boyfriend was real, he was mine and he had a car and a job, so they could all go sit on a shitty stick and swivel.
One day, my boyfriend (I’ll call him Dean, as that was not his name), my best friend Anna and her boyfriend Keith all went to a club. I was positively fizzing with excitement. A club! I’d heard about clubs and clubbing from the girls at school.
‘I bet you’ve never been to a club,’ they’d say to me loftily. ‘I bet you don’t even know what one is.’
‘Shut up! I do so know what one is,’ I’d retort, even though I didn’t really.
But now, for the first time, I was going to a real proper nightclub. It was called The Odyssey, and was at the end of Eastbourne Pier in East Sussex, where Anna, Keith and Dean all lived.
The only Odyssey I’d ever heard of was the one we’d studied in Classical Civilisation at school. The name conjured up images of adventure, daring deeds and excitement. I couldn’t wait to find out what it was all about.
[At 18, the age the bouncers presumably thought I was.]
So I dressed up to the nines, plastered my face with makeup and walked into The Odyssey with the others. I couldn’t quite believe the bouncers had let me in.
The Odyssey, it turned out, was dimly lit inside. There was some thumping music playing, and lots of girls standing around in tiny dresses and high heels, while the guys were wearing shirts and smart jeans. We stood by the bar. The guys I was with drank beer, and I drank orange juice (I was never much of a drinker, especially not at 14).
‘When’s it going to start?’ I shouted to Dean, over the pumping music. It seemed unnecessarily loud and prohibitive to conversation.
Dean looked at his watch. ‘It’s not even 10pm,’ he shouted back. ‘It’ll get busier and there’ll be a lot more people by 11pm.’
‘And then it’ll start?’ I yelled.
He looked puzzled. ‘Well, it’ll get busier.’
‘Yeah,’ I shouted, confused, ‘but then what happens?’
He frowned. ‘People will start dancing.’
I stared at him in total disillusionment and indignance, the penny finally dropping: ‘So you mean it’s just a disco with alcohol?!’
He laughed: ‘Yeah.’
I couldn’t believe it. All that hype at school about nightclubs, and they were nothing more than discos! As for the ‘Odyssey’, I thought, Homer would have been appalled that his epic poem had been bastardised in such a prosaic way.
I sighed. ‘When can I go home?’
[Me, aged 18.]
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