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On the joys of clubbing

By Brad Wallace
Arizona Daily Wildcat
September 15, 1998
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Arizona Daily Wildcat

Brad Wallace

Early Sunday morning found me parked on the shoulder of Interstate 19, vainly trying to assist friends puking into the night.

I'm sure that many of you are familiar with Nogales, Sonora, our friendly neighbor to the south, where alcohol and dance remixes send University of Arizona students by the hundreds to the side of the road. Like any good night out at a club, it ended with said inebriated friends unanimously deciding "not to do this again for a long while."

Something about alcohol and loud music speaks to me, so despite being the most gawky and uncoordinated dancer possible, damn if I don't love clubbing. To be fair, Nogales is somewhere at the bottom of the dance club experience, where the quaint ambiance of Mexico blends with underage desperation to create a scene worthy of Dante.

If you go, you really will hear people scream, "Show us your tits!" I like it because of the absolute purity of the experience: There really is nothing more than a lot of people looking to get fucked up and score a quick lay.

The DJs down there also still like to play "Macarena," which is also is a very special kind of fun in itself, to see people from all walks of life on campus lurching together in a long-dead dance craze.

By direct contrast, Tucson's own Fine Line has probably never played the Macarena, putting it high on my list of places to thrash about awkwardly.

Some nights you just need to hear outrageously loud German industrial music and stare at lights. The Fine Line is more than happy to accommodate this, as well as provide an interesting crowd of locals, who despite the heavy Goth overtones, are actually friendly and as accepting a lot as one is likely to find anywhere. [Picture]

They also play Bjork, which is the hallmark of a truly exceptional club.

However, if you're wanting a soul-crushing look at the bleakness of modern life, skip the Fine Line and head straight for the New West/Gotham complex. Seeing a dance floor half-empty yet surrounded by hundreds of semi-uncomfortable people eyeing each other is the perfect backdrop to convince yourself that A: Love doesn't exist; B: Lust does exist; and C: You just might die alone.

This place isn't a meat rack, it's a sterile plastic display of processed beef sitting in the refrigerator at Fry's.

The drink specials are decent though, and I got to hear a really good song whose key refrain was "If you want my ding-a-ling, give me a ring-a-ling." Moments like that are worth any cover charge.

A similarly transcendental night at the clubs happened when my roommate and I decided to club in LA, at an outrageously expensive club right on Hollywood Boulevard. Everyone we met really was working on a screenplay, and I cannot emphasize the role of vinyl pants in the happening West Coast fashion scene. It was like Less than Zero without the happy parts. By the end of the evening I longed for a healthy heroin dependency and Elvis Costello. Do yourself a favor and ride the LA snake sometime.

There's magic in the clubs - the sort of magic that makes the splatter of vomit and ringing ears at 3 a.m. seem almost desirable. People of any ethnicity, sexual orientation and music preference unite under the banner of longnecks and Long Island Ice Teas, quite literally looking only for a good time.

Granted, there's little hope of meeting someone who will transform your life with their profound love, but the same could be said for the world at large. At least clubs have loud music, which is enough for me.

Brad Wallace is a creative writing and molecular and cellular biology senior. His column, Handful of Dust, appears every Tuesday and he can be reached via e-mail at

Financial Times Fall 98