I once sneaked out with a friend to a London night club to celebrate new year’s eve. I aspired to be one of the ‘IT’ girls such as; Tamara Beckwith or Tara Palmer-Tomkinson. They oozed everything I thought a woman should be and I thought I needed to start by seeing in my 14th year on the planet in a fashionable London nightclub.
I envisaged glamourous, glittering, champagne clinking clubs, where the rich and famous camped out. The reality was a long cold queue followed by a long boring queue for the coat drop off, before entering a hot stuffy packed room. I sweltered through two hours of stuffy boredom wearing a velvet poloneck over orange leggings and DM boots (At 14 I didn’t know there was a dress code for the tropical temperatures of a cold-December nightclub).
Subsequent visits to clubs, over the years, never really improved to the point I only went because that was where my friends wanted to go and I was a faithful sheep dog.
However, the many times I went there was always one group of women who glided through the club. They were the ‘IT’ girls of that evening. And in that female hierarchy for that space in the city they ruled the club and all eyes followed them. So the extract I’ve chosen is Olivia’s version of clubbing after she had returned to London and became one of these ‘IT’ girls:
‘……As an aside, I have observed whilst growing up, that I am at a disadvantage due to my gender. From an early age I was taught, by society, that I am weaker than my male social colleagues and to aspire to be stronger means abandoning girlish traits and harness the power of boys. When I was small I attempted to ‘not’: throw like a girl or cry like a girl or giggle like a girl or fight like a girl. Instead, my natural physique and temperament should be quashed if I was to progress as a person and accept the phrase ‘like a girl’ is an insult and not a fact of my gender………..
In my twenties, I slipped into accepting I was ‘just a woman’; powerless with little prospect to catch up with other women my age who rejected the word ‘just’ and sailed down their own stream of an educated woman……….
But, in nightclubs, such as ‘the Zoo’, I was more than ‘just a girl’. There I was a powerful woman. I had slobbering men clambering around me…….I could feel their eyes following me as if they had leashes around their necks which I could pull towards me at my will. I did not pay for drinks in any club and eventually I learnt what type of man would eagerly buy bottles of expensive champagne to ensure we had a booth to sit down in……………..’
I don’t know what happened to these women, I hope like me, they refused to see they were just a girl and more a ‘strong woman’. But this takes time and time brings confidence if we allow it.
My new years eve this year, more than a quarter of a century after my first club adventure, was spent at home with my friends whilst our children slept. We toasted 2019 watching London fire works on the television. Not glamourous, not exciting and not an ‘IT’ girl in sight but I didn’t wish to be anywhere else. Happy strong 2019.