Home About the United Kingdom Culture & History British nightlife observations: Us…them
Last update on July 31, 2019

Our regular blogger Miranda Ward describes Britain’s notorious nightlife and paints a vivid picture of its bizareness – a common experience?

And the parade of the poorly dressed. One man has seen fit to slit his trousers from waistband to hem — so that from behind we catch the sight of his naked bottom. The girls flock to nightclubs and wear get-ups that even cinematic legend, Fellini could not have imagined. And always in pairs — one girl in a zebra-print skin-tight dress that doesn’t quite cover the twin bulbs of her rear and the other wearing rubber tights and something resembling a top. 

Disappearing into the pulsating intestines of a place called ‘Raw’,  ‘hens’ in chefs hats meet stags in kilts on street corners and lose themselves in clouds of smoke to emerge later with outfits askew and cigarettes burned to the filter.  The air is heavy with shouting.  I think it’s happy shouting; but how to tell, when the calls of the drunk before he (or she, in ripped denim skirt, sequin blouse) slips finally into the realm of not-remembering are so close to calls of anguish?  Perhaps it’s the sound of the self letting go, leaving the conscience behind, two aspects parted by a sip too many. 

Will the zebra girl wake with ears still numbed by techno, breath still seeped in rum and the empty taste of a late-night kebab-shop feast, and have a regret?  Even a single one, a small one: those shoes, she might think, they’re too high, my knees are sore from dancing now.  The naked-bottomed man might sit, later, upon a cold park-bench, might feel the metallic chill in new places, places he didn’t know could feel things.  Perhaps in this way the senses seem suddenly to expand.

Photo by Daveness_98
A ‘hen night’ in Liverpool. Photo by Daveness 98

But you see them together and you think that some sort of game is being played, surely. That the girls fumbling with purses on the street corners are deliberately emulating the hookers of bigger cities; that the blokes, staggering in zig-zag patterns, letting their English voices loose upon the town, are deliberately ignoring every siren call until the last, choosing not to look up a zebra-patterned skirt or at the way a pair of rubber legs is crossed.

Each human his (or her) own, complete, exhibit.  And each exhibiting for an invisible audience.  Not for the disdainful eyes of you or me, or of the girl in jeans holding her boyfriend’s hand.  No, not for us do they strut and pose.


*Note: A ‘hen-night’ refers to a bride’s nightout with her friends before her marriage and a stag-do is the same but for the groom.


Miranda Ward / Expatica

Miranda Ward grew up on a cattle ranch on the coast of California and settled in Oxford England whilst studying International Relations. She met her partner in a pub on the evening of her first day in Oxford. She is currently writing a book. Republished from Miranda’s blog — My Wandering Days.