THE IRONY HASN’T ESCAPED ME that, as I’m writing this, I can barely keep my eyes open, answering my own question before I’ve even started. Meanwhile, most of my friends – little tykes that they are – are on their second day of shoehorning themselves into crop tops and stilettos at the Formula 1, while I, dear reader, am in slippers, tower of Hobnobs balanced precariously on one knee, laptop on the other, crumbs generously intermingling with the bobbles on a cardigan that I should have thrown away in 2009. Writer-chic, I like to call it. Writercore if I’m trying to sound edgier and more millennial. It also involves tea stains, a topknot and a good amount of self-loathing. It’s pretty niche, I won’t lie.
But anyhoo. My point is, the F1 has marked the annual sequin watershed that is the start of an intense two-month event season, which I will no doubt spend in bed, swinging schizophrenically between moody, unchecked FOMO, and telling myself that it’s better this way; that it’s what my skin, my bank balance, my mum would want. That being tucked up pre-10pm with a Korean sheet mask, unable to do any damage to myself or others, is a life choice to be applauded, even if I am only 33 and should, by rights, still have a bit of wind left in my sails yet.
Instead, the truth is I don’t go out anymore. Well, not out-out anyway. When I actually did stick my head above the parapet recently, I was met with two shocked acquaintances telling me that they thought I’d moved. This, it seems, is what happens when you hang up your sequins and your contour kit in this town. You literally cease to exist.
I can’t even blame it on the ostensibly sensible winds of change that come with turning 30, because there is photographic evidence – see above – documenting that at 31, I was still very much into dancing on tables with wild abandon while wearing questionably small shorts. This – combined with the avalanche of party-dressing press releases in my inbox and malls awash with festive, Dynasty-esque lamé – has come together to actually made me feel a bit sad this year, though. What happened to turn me from good-time girl, ﬁrst on the dance ﬂoor, a drink in each hand – for balance, obvs – belting out every word to whatever the DJ was playing, hoarse but happy? Surely it can’t have been the allure of a cheeseboard alone. I’ve gone from casual midweek jaunts to Mahiki to compulsively mainlining Berocca, and from spending my weekends in the recovery position to hosting civilised dinner parties of no more than four, where the most out of hand it gets is me forgetting to glaze something before it goes in the oven.
I mean, I did start early. Maybe I just need a really long sleep. A decade and a half of going out three times a week will do that to you. At 14 or so, you’d ﬁnd me smiling at bouncers manning the doors of various hovels in Croydon, clouds of Lynx Africa and desperation ﬁlling the air. At 18, I graduated to Infernos, a notorious, sticky hole in south London that we misguidedly referred to as the Theatre of Dreams for years, where feet stuck to the ﬂoor and dignities were often lost, never to be recovered.
University was a whole other kettle of ﬁsh, spent almost exclusively in fancy dress, or at illicit warehouse raves that only ended when they were broken up by the authorities, a bedraggled army streaming out onto the pavement, squinting into the sunlight like scrubbed, newborn moles wearing neon.
Sigh. Those were the days. Living for the pure joy of a seriously sweaty, hair-ﬂinging, voice-losing, consequence-free night out, trussed up like a foil-wrapped Christmas turkey, dancing and dancing and dancing some more. There’s really nothing like it, is there? And in your 20s, when everything feels so intense, and every song relates so much to your life that singing along with them feels like the ultimate therapy, it’s nights like this that you’ll look back and thank your lucky stars for. Most likely when you’re 33, greying and really au fait with cheeses.
Who knows, though, perhaps this is the party season I’ll come out of retirement. Show these youngsters how it’s done. Hold my drink, guys – nana’s back.
Photo: Olivia's own