An open letter to clubs: Stop saying songs from our childhood are guilty pleasures
There’s no shame in liking Busted
What’s your least favourite thing about nightclubs, or discotheques as they should absolutely be called?
Is it the fact that you’re paying £5 to get into what is essentially a sweaty warehouse that seemingly has the power to make everyone incredibly horny? Is it the euphoria of bumping into someone you vaguely know from your course (you may have talked about what A-Levels you did, they’d probably never heard of the town you grew up in [“Is that near Manchester?”]) and making a totally-serious-this-is-definitely-going-to-happen-we-aren’t-just-really-drunk plan to meet up for a drink in a venue of neutral horniness? Or is it being judged by the bouncer on the utterly horrendous photo on your ID?
For me there is one thing inherently wrong about clubs, a gripe that could quell even the most crippling horniness, leaving my body devoid of horn. My problem (of which I have many) is this – stop branding any and all music from our childhoods as guilty pleasures. Stop it.
Clubs, like many other buildings, have different rooms. You may know a building with different rooms. I don’t know you, I’m not going to assume anything about you as a reader, but I can take an educated guess that you, the reader, know what rooms are.
Clubs often brand themselves on the fact they play different genres in different rooms, i.e. one room will play indie music, one will play chart music. Then, every so often, they’ll promote a room playing ‘guilty pleasures’, a blanket term for pretty much everything you liked as a teenager and songs that have become memes.
This is my problem – how can something be a guilty pleasure if you’re more than willing to stand and belt out every single lyric to it surrounded by those you call your friends, if it shaped the formative years of your life leaving a lasting impact on you as a person?
Let’s roleplay a typical scenario:
You’re in the club. You can feel the club in your soul, the club is all up inside you, you are possessed by the club and there is no getting out of it now, not until the urge for cheesy chips grows so powerful that the club is suppressed inside you. Something generic is playing, I don’t know, something by Katy Perry, the kind of thing your grandparents would hate. Then, all of a sudden you hear the opening keys to a tune from your past. The single solitary piano note that drags you back to the heady days of 2006. It is ‘Welcome to the Black Parade’ by My Chemical Romance.
You’re filled with the urge to grab the nearest sweaty mess to your own sweaty mess, throw an arm around them and sing. But wait – should you feel guilty? Should you feel overcome with the shame of once liking a song by a band whose gimmick was matching black military jackets and having a lead singer whose real life actual name is Gerard? No, no you should not feel guilty for this. My Chemical Romance are a good band. Well, they’re okay. They’re fine. Totally fine*.
*This is, of course, totally subjective. I once played the album The Black Parade to my Dad and to be honest our relationship hasn’t been the same since. It’s okay not to like My Chemical Romance, but they’re nowhere near as bad as other bands. I’m looking at you Scouting For Girls.
The fact is, calling something a guilty pleasure when you have no guilt, nor should ever feel guilt, about liking is totally contradictory. For something to be a guilty pleasure, it should make you want to avoid it at all costs, thus contradicting the very notion of standing in the middle of a packed dancefloor, arms in the air, singing every single lyric to ‘Year 3000’ by Busted. You do not feel guilty because of this, otherwise you would not do it.
For instance, if you were responsible for someone’s death, you’d feel incredibly guilty and try and bury that guilt as deep as possible. You wouldn’t flaunt it in public at the first possible chance you get. That is true guilt.
On the other hand, you may have stolen milk from your housemates before and felt a little guilt before remembering all the times they’ve stolen stuff from you, thus the guilt dissipates and leaves you free to steal more milk in the future. That, like knowing all the words to ‘Dance Dance’ by Fall Out Boy, is not true guilt.
A SUMMARY: Guilty pleasures are good. Clubs are bad.