My friends and I belong to a lost group of people who came of age in the year 2000. We’re not properly labeled in sociological terms, and we’re a little embarrassed about it. We fell between the hairy buttocks of Gen Xers and the slick, edgy cheeks of millennials. We had internet, but went to EasyEverything cafes to get it. We’ve listened to OutKast and All Saints, and we’ve revered Eminem — we’d still rather separate his crazy rapping skills from his unsavory opinions.
We spent our time in hip-hop clubs and wore baggy pants that sucked rain up to our knees by osmosis. We danced around arms slung like rappers, in a way that today would probably be considered cultural appropriation. We were politically motivated but politically incorrect. And we didn’t value ourselves at all: we had left school in shock and were simply relieved to have a second chance at social life.
When my friend and I went to Manchester last weekend, we decided to do some clubbing to see if it was still going. He booked two tickets to a new queer party near the university, and in our rush to dance — we’d watched Haddaway on YouTube in the Airbnb before going out — we were the first on the floor, buzzing over Kronenburg, while that groups of young people chatted quietly downstairs in the bar.
The empty, white dance floor was strewn with balloons, which didn’t bode well for the kind of dancing we do. We started jumping around anyway and my friend found a Hawaiian flower garland, which he placed around his neck. The hall was packed with students, but we barely noticed because they were so quiet compared to the students of our day – didn’t drink much and were apparently not on drugs, judging by how quietly they were. moved from foot to foot to the rhythm of the music. .
Onstage were two tall men about our age with beards the size of shovels, naked except for leather shorts. They were the emcees of the evening – but perhaps they, too, felt the thin but mighty mini-generation gap between us. One of them held out a bottle of poppers and, like big kids going to sit on Santa’s lap, two of us rushed onto the stage for a hit as the crowd watched. The other brandished a bottle of Absolut while shouting “Let’s go!” – but no one really got lost. He advertised a dance party – and we were thrilled, because in our day we would go see loads of them and pretend to be Julia Stiles in save the last dance.
The floor cleared and the first contestant was a man wearing a smart sweater and a wristwatch who collapsed on the floor like a fish. MCs quickly dubbed it the “Amex V-Neck”. Her performance was challenged by a tall trans man in a handsome green eyeshadow. He dropped to his knees, lowered his shorts to reveal his bare buttocks and embraced the event as if he were in a small club in the Weimar Republic. The winner was judged by the size of the applause – and the crowd chose Amex V-Neck. It was the first surprise of the evening.
Content from our partners
A young man had been watching us for hours, smiling and looking so closely that I finally went to the bathroom so he could approach my friend.
When I returned, my friend was dancing alone again, rubbing a balloon over his head to create static electricity.
He looked a little delusional.
What happened, I asked?
“He didn’t like my personality!” he is crying.
My friend told me he took off his Hawaiian garland and wrapped it around his fingers while dancing and shouting, “Remember the cat’s cradle?!”
Her suitor replied, “I’m just going to smoke a cigarette.”
Even now, the former admirer could be seen a few feet away from us, with his back to us. He quickly moved on.
We wondered, maybe we really lost it? Maybe when approaching people in clubs today, young men like us are auditioning for serious life partners?
“To be desired and then rejected for my shitty personality is almost liberating,” my friend observed.
It’s the generation gap, I say.
This article originally appeared in the January 30, 2019 issue of The New Statesman, epic failure