This morning I was driving home from my grocery pick-up (praise!) and one of my most favorite songs came on the radio: Work It by Missy Elliott. I turned it up loud and car danced my way north on Johnnie Dodds Boulevard. Damn, it felt good to let loose. Once the song ended I began daydreaming about my younger years and how much I used to love to go out dancing.
When I moved to Charleston in 2006, the club scene included Mad River on Market Street, Light and Wet Willie’s on East Bay, and Trio on Calhoun. I’m sure there were plenty more hot spots in the city but those were the ones I frequented. Apparently, Trio is still bumpin’, according to a quick Google search, but the other three have closed. RIP.
Living in Charleston in my mid-twenties was such a treat, especially having come from a small town in New England with zero nightlife. My girlfriends and I really lived it up back then when we were young, single, and able to stay up as late as we wanted.
Now we’re older, married, and can’t stay out all night because our kids need their mothers. Imagine that?!
Even though my priorities have shifted and my bedtime comes earlier than it used to, I still have that yearning to get dressed up, meet up with my friends, and dance until we’re sweaty and exhausted. I imagine there would be less flirting with random dudes, more sobriety, and better choices being made if we dabbled in the club scene in our late 30s and early 40s. Our husbands and life partners would appreciate that, I’m sure.
Apparently clubbing is on the mind of other “older” ladies, too, as evidenced by a recent Saturday Night Live skit featuring Kim Kardashian West. Kim and crew go out dancing and experience some unpleasantries: achy feet from six-inch Louboutins, gastrointestinal distress, and falling asleep in the club. Message received, Lorne Michaels. We’re too old for the dance club.
But what if we still want to dance??
I googled “Charleston clubs for 40+” and the search results were a real bummer: mention of drinks containing egg whites, cougars, complaints about a fog machine, and food reviews. Back in my day, clubs didn’t serve food, just overpriced and haphazardly made cocktails, cheap beer, or frozen slushies. There wasn’t enough room for dining tables and who’d want to eat around all those gyrating, perspiring bodies anyway? Egg whites in a drink plus droppin’ it like it’s hot sounds like a recipe for queasiness. Unfortunately, my Google inquiry had not elicited the results I had hoped for.
I had hoped to find one place in the city to cater to my demographic. I wanted a safe and comfortable space for middle-aged women to relive their youth without judgment from younger, hotter, more limber ladies.
If I were to design the perfect club experience for women my age, it would have the following elements:
- Earlier start time. 7 pm is ideal with the last call at 10 pm. I don’t have the stamina to last more than three hours anyway. Also, the club should only operate on Saturday nights as to not interfere with my weeknight responsibilities of schlepping my kids to after-school activities and nagging them to do their homework.
- Dance songs from the 1990s and 2000s. I dance best when I know all the words. I was able to retain the lyrics from this era because my brain was not yet filled with adult responsibilities and the incessant chatter of little kids. I’m sure you guys understand.
- Decent drinks but nothing too fancy. We’re not here for the mixological experience; we’re here to get our groove on. The drinks should sufficiently lubricate our confidence (read: strong) but not require our concentration. I’m good with a $7 okay cocktail versus a $15 amazing one. I can just drink the cheaper one. I’d feel pressured to really savor the pricey one and I’d rather be dancing instead.
- Complimentary slippers. My feet hurt just thinking about wearing heels. Feel free to wear your sexiest stilettos with the knowledge that you can change out of them whenever they become too much. The club would provide disposable cozy slippers and a No Shame Policy for those who choose this option.
- Judgment Free Zone. This place is the Planet Fitness of dance clubs. Guests must abide by this cardinal rule or get the heck out. There shall be no side-eye given, no mean-spirited whispering to ones’ friends, no “OMG Becky, look at her butt”, and absolutely no eye-rolling, even if someone is dressed like a total cheug. We’re all friends here, ladies. Let’s support one another.
- Relationship status tags. These are similar to name tags but list if you’re married, separated, or single. The tags are more obvious indicators than wedding rings and really cut to the chase: do I have a chance with this person? Upon entering the club, a guest designates their relationship status and chooses a sub-category such as “I’m just here to dance with my girlfriends”, “You can flirt with me but I’m not going home with you” or “Accepting free drinks”. It takes the guesswork out of middle age clubbing and helps uphold the establishment’s strict consent principle.
Doesn’t this club experience sound amazing?!
Imagine gluing on those fake eyelashes, picking up all your friends, and heading downtown to have the best night of your adult life!
Please let me know if this unicorn of a club actually exists in the Lowcountry. If so, I’ve got a ladies’ night to organize! If not, please pass along my idea to a visionary entrepreneur who can make my dream a reality. Mama wants to dance!