Exclusively Bad

Every weekend, the same scene is played out in thousands of nightclubs in hundreds of cities worldwide: young, upwardly mobile people are doing their best to get past the velvet rope.

If you went to Best Buy to purchase an electronic gadget, and the staff made you wait in a non-moving line, and expressed doubt about wanting your money, and then, depending on the cashier, an extra, random amount was tacked on to the price, would you go back again? It’s a strange thing to wait in a line for a nightclub that is not full, where your patience is just a plea for acceptance in dark rooms that have alcohol, loud music, and the possibility of sexual attention. But you don’t wait in lines do you? Well, there are other ways people pay for this VIP access, from money to fake friendship to flirting, where the possibility of sex is never outright denied.

It’s hard to find something to belong to that defines you as a person. Not everyone is going to be marathoners, artists, athletes, politicians, or imported car enthusiasts. Not everyone will easily find their niche. While there is nothing wrong with the vast majority of people, they fit right in the middle of the bell curve: they are normal, maybe successful, but without a specific group they can call their own. If this normal person is social and in possession of discretionary income, that leaves not many options for hobbies except alcohol and partying. Alcohol makes you feel good so it would make sense that a lot of people go this route. After going out three nights a week to the same places for an extended period of time, they can now say they are in a special group that exchanges pictures and party stories. Now they belong.

These people, when they are in a nightclub of their peers that gives an air of exclusivity, no matter how manufactured, undergo a transformation. First is appearance. Just like in any social club, a uniform must be purchased which lets others know you belong. This is the cornerstone of the fashion industry and ensures that everyone buys the same styles at the same time. Recently when I saw a girl with a belt around her stomach, I thought she was just being creative, but then when I saw a dozen other girls with the stomach belts in a matter of weeks, I knew the memo had gone out, replacing the tassel belt fashion that seemed to be popular a few years ago. Imitation triumphs over individual style.

Second is attitude. In a sort of mind meld, individuals wishing to join the social club must adopt the attitude and beliefs of the leaders, who are the owners and to a lesser extend, the staff of bouncers, promoters, and bartenders, who know more about projecting attitude than intellect. While owners are the local leaders of this club, party celebrities such as Paris Hilton play their role in determining what is cool and what is not. It is not surprising that Paris Hilton is part-owner to successful nightclubs that bear her name.

Being cool means having a serious look on your face, recognizing someone’s worth based on their appearance and who they know, and limiting contact with those who are obviously commoners. If you are a single man without friends trying to break into a city’s VIP circle, all you need is the willingness to pay for other people’s alcohol long enough until they consider you a friend. But of course this friendship is only limited in venues that serve alcohol — sobriety would tear the fragile bonds apart. The reason you go inside a nightclub and no one puts out their hand to meet you like they might at a house party is because you could have terribly low social value that taints the reputation they have spent so many months building.

When someone works hard to belong to some group, the value of that group automatically goes up in their mind. This person look downs on non-members and makes sure that others are limited access to preserve his or her membership value. It’s not very exclusive if there are too many members. Exaggerated behavior replaces normal behavior, and the harder it is to get into a group the more exaggerated the members will act. Don’t work too hard at getting into something that is exclusive. There will be other people who have also bought into that exclusivity, and all the mental rot that goes along with it.

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