From 4 July, we’ll be allowed to book a table at pubs, bars and restaurants – but long summer nights spent dancing with friends in a club will have to wait until at least next year. In the meantime, one writer recalls everything she loves about the Big Night Out.
One Saturday morning, about a month into lockdown, I woke up with The Fear.
You know the feeling: a dry mouth, thumping headache, and regretful recent memories made worse by an internal voice shouting “what the hell happened last night?” at full volume.
It turned out I’d gone one homemade margarita too far, video called my friends while playing loud 70s disco music, danced around my living room and sang karaoke with the houseplants.
No real harm was done; but I quickly learned not to let this become a regular thing, for the sake of both my physical and mental health.
However, the experience felt weirdly nostalgic. Because, my god, I miss the Big Night Out (BNO).
I miss squabbling with friends in the WhatsApp group over where to go, before deciding on a crappy club or bar that nobody will really enjoy.
I miss pretending to myself that “actually, I’m going to give it a miss, be good and watch Netflix instead” then guffawing at my own lameness and doing a U-turn seconds later.
I miss doing a last minute chase around Westfield, having absolutely no idea what new outfit I’m looking for, but feeling furious over not being able to find it in Zara.
I miss singing (read: screeching) Lizzo to myself in the mirror while drawing on liquid eyeliner that is never the same on both eyes.
I miss putting on a pair of pristine heels that I haven’t worn outside in the five years since buying them, then swapping them for a pair of trainers at the last minute because, “I wanna dance, dammit!”.
I miss spending 45 minutes taking that pre-Uber selfie (OK, fine, an hour).
I miss making momentary eye contact with a hot guy at the bar and immediately walking away because I can’t cope with him knowing I think he’s fit.
I miss quickly accepting my “basic-ness” and doing rounds on bottles of Prosecco in ice buckets.
I miss spending most of the night in the loos, not knowing the names of my new best friends who I’ve spent an hour chatting to while reapplying makeup.
I miss dancing like Phoebe dances for Chandler in Friends and not really giving a flying fig.
I miss the soles of my shoes sticking to the dance floor and going black with dirt.
I miss the lost hour between saying “let’s go home” and actually leaving the club.
I miss the incriminating bright lights of the takeaway shop and inhaling a large pizza without even really realising I’m inhaling a large pizza.
I miss the night bus home, laughing my head off with my friends, and no-doubt annoying at least one other passenger (sorry!).
I miss unlocking my door, sneaking into my own flat and, incidentally, making as much noise as humanly possible, all the while saying “ssshhh!” to myself.
I miss falling asleep with a face full of makeup even though I know my skin (and my sheets) will hate me for it.
I miss waking up hours later and immediately assessing the damage on my Instagram stories.
I miss ordering every carbohydrate in London to be delivered to my doorstep the next day.
Ah yes, I miss the BNO.
Yes, it’s a total privilege to be able to have some new freedom during lockdown. But, let’s face it, there’s only so much fun we can have while meeting our friends in the local park and staying two metres away from them on a Saturday night.
That’s why I will be the first hot and sticky mess on the dance floor when it’s safe to do so again. I’ll never complain about the cost of a drink in London again. I’ll relish every bass-heavy song the DJ throws my way. I’ll actually talk to that guy at the bar.
I’ll make the most of it, and not regret a single second (I hope).