Tab tries: a sober night in Lizard Lounge

Jeremy Barclay tries to survive Lounge without a drop of booze. It doesn’t go well.


My assignment was simple: One night of sobriety in the most notoriously inebriate club on the triangle, The Lizard Lounge.

Foolishly, I approached my masochistic task with some optimism. This was going to be my first visit to Lizard Lounge, drunk or sober; how much could it differ from a night out in Bunker or Syndicate?

I got my answer from some second year girls in the queue. To them, Lizard Lounge was sacred, a Bristolian rite of passage: “You do realise you’re missing out on the whole university experience if you haven’t been to Lounge?”.

The regulars get psyched for another night in Lounge

As I nervously approached the entrance, anxious to get my University equivalent of a bar mitzvah under-way, the second years tried to tempt me into ‘getting mortal’ with them, and losing my Lounge virginity like a man.

I politely declined their offer, and accepted my fate with humility.

Upon entering the main bar, my senses were overwhelmed by the distinct smell of hairspray from the girls gyrating on the dance floor, and the poisonous cloud of Lynx Africa emanating from the herd of ‘Bantersaurus Rex’s buying their drinks.

The red faces and sticky-out tongues peppering the bar looked upon me with some suspicion as I walked in a perfectly straight line to the bar.

Our reporter does his best to blend in

When it came to buying a drink my outsider status became even more obvious. “A coke?!” the barman declared with disgust. Clearly, I did not belong here.

Eventually assuring him I definitely did not want any vodka with my coke, I traversed the still sparse dancefloor, where the most dedicated inebriates had already begun the ritual of stumbling into each other with some kind of vague rhythmic motion.

With the club yet to fill up, I decided to ask others if they’d ever try Lounge sober. I was met with pity, shock and horror, as if I was a tee-total leper.

Emily, a first year English student, admitted she could never do it: “It’s too cheesy and grimy. People pee in this place, you know”.

Despite the piss-soaked floors (which were stickier than Berlusconi’s bed-sheets), Emily and her friends seemed to be having a good time, no doubt helped by the cheap Fosters; a staple drink for all Lounge-goers.

Midnight passed and having downgraded from coke to water (mustn’t get too buzzed after all) I attempted to engage with the dance floor, a space seemingly filled with nothing but elbows. I’m pretty sure I even took an elbow to the shin at one point.

At this point the pros and cons of sobriety became obvious.

  • At no point was I convinced doing the robot was a good idea.
  • I didn’t have to pee every five freaking minutes.
  • I felt so uptight my ‘dancing’ was comparable to a robot anyway.
  • I was forced to endure the full effect of One Direction without the cushion of alcohol.
  • Relentlessly taking elbows to the face is a far greater ordeal when sober.

After one sweaty armpit in the face too many, I retreated to the men’s toilets, which at one point had more women in it than men (banter?), to wash the Fosters out of my t-shirt.

I considered sucking it out of the shirt first, just to take the edge off. Clearly, I had hit rock bottom.

Welcome to hell on earth

By half past midnight, I was wanting to leave as it was obvious I didn’t belong. Crossing the dance floor to get to the bar while sober was infinitely more difficult than crossing it drunk. I cared too much about shoving people, or spilling their drinks, a courtesy that was in no way mutual.

However, in these dark times I also saw the beauty of Lounge. It’s all-encompassing rubbishness led to a level playing field. Everyone was embarrassing themselves, and in Lounge, that’s okay!

After all, where else could you get metal heads by the bar headbanging to Taylor Swift and girls drunkenly ballroom dancing in the same room?

Despite these voyeuristic pleasures, the risk of an elbow-induced black eye meant I decided to keep my distance. I bailed at a pathetic 1:30 AM but I’ll be back again. And next time, there will be vodka in my coke.

Challenge failed.