Illustration by Clara Nicoll

Young life: I can’t stop chasing the night

Why can I never accept that the party is over and the best bet is cheesy chips then bed? 
May 16, 2024

“I think I’m addicted to being awake,” says Maggie, a character in the TV adaptation of Dolly Alderton’s memoir Everything I Know About Love. I read the book in my final year of university and loved it. I’ve rewatched the show several times because I’ve never seen my own debauched, impulsive behaviour reflected so accurately. Maggie never knows when to call it quits. She’ll get a taxi from London to Liverpool if that means there’s a chance of keeping the night going. Lo and behold, the party is emphatically over when she arrives.

While I’ve never gone as far as travelling from one city to another, I am guilty of chasing a night that has already ended. I’m never ready for the fun to be over.

Having had a fair few (mis)adventures in my time, I know there’s always the possibility of something exciting around the corner; a handsome stranger, a hot waiter, the love of my life. And I never want to miss it.

A few weekends ago, at 3am, I pulled out my usual “Where next?” to my friends who—honestly—were ready for cheesy chips and the comfort of their own beds. We’d been drinking since 6pm the previous evening and had just piled out of Clapham Grand following “Femmes on Top”, an iconic queer night hosted by Butch Please. Of course, we stayed until closing; who could resist the pull of tunes by the likes of Azealia Banks, Kim Petras, Icona Pop and Britney Spears?   

I wasn’t ready for the night out to end. I was on a high and couldn’t possibly imagine easing myself down from the dizzying heights of snogging women against a backdrop of hyperpop and Drag King performances.

I rallied a couple of members from the group and we darted across the road, chanting “HEAV-EN, HEAV-EN, HEAV-EN”, towards a bus that would take us all the way from south London to central. Closing time for Heaven, the club, was 5am. We were taking a 40-minute bus journey for what would be roughly 45 minutes of fun. You do the maths.

As soon as we got off the bus, we broke into a sprint. Still riding the high of minesweeping bottles of Prosecco from nearby tables and scream-singing “I don’t care, I love it,” I ended up well ahead of the other two. Having not an ounce of navigational skill, I got a bit lost. By the time I arrived at Heaven, I was alone, out of breath, with a phone on the verge of dying. Worst of all, the body-tape I had been using to delicately attach my (extremely) plunge dress to my chest had started to peel off. Oh, and entry was closed.

Like a trashy Cinderella, as the clock struck four, everything fell apart (and my tits out of place).

Sobering up after the bus journey and vigorous exercise, I leant against a wall to figure out my next move. I texted my friends—who, unlike me, have a decent sense of direction and took a more direct route—who had already entered the club. They assumed I’d already gone in, given the lead I took. 

“Fuck, fuck, fuck, fuck,” I muttered to myself as I opened Citymapper on my phone (I could not afford an Uber home). A man hovered into view. And another one. And another. God, aren’t they opportunistic? Men loitering outside queer clubs after closing.

“I’m gay.” I mean, I’m bi, but on this occasion, I wasn’t bothered about semantics. They didn’t take the hint, anyway.

“Why don’t you come back with us? We’ve got a room in Holborn. We can keep the party going.”

A younger, more naive version of Alice would have probably entertained this idea—entranced as I would have been by the notion of “keeping the party going”. I know now that that would have been a terrible idea.

“No.” I didn’t bother trying to be polite. I glowered at them as best I could.

Eventually, a couple of the bouncers at Heaven cottoned on to my situation. Two of them approached to ask if I was alright, if the men were bothering me. “Yes,” I said, “they are.” 

I explained that my two friends were already inside the club, that I knew I’d missed closing, but would really appreciate being let inside. Given the options were to allow me entry or feed me to the literal sharks (who hadn’t moved from their station outside the club), they welcomed me inside.

All in all, not a dreadful tale. I made it to Heaven, unscathed, and danced until my tits fell all the way out of my dress. It was fine.

Was it worth the hangover? The three hours of sleep I got that night? No, not really. I know I should have called it, ended the night on a high in south London, where I could have gotten a direct bus home in 20 minutes. 

Truth is, I never know how to walk away from a night out. I’ll keep chasing, with no real objective other than to stumble upon a great story—a moment—a comedic bit that will last a lifetime.

With time, hangovers and a regrettable sleep debt, I hope I do learn how to end the night on a high. All good things must come to an end.