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Archive for October, 2010

What in the hell is a barscene? And what makes a bar or nightclub a meat market? What is so humiliating about being observed by others in public? And how can we possibly know what observant strangers might imagine about us anyway?

Characterizations of bars and clubs as degrading, danger-filled traps for singles are sooooo frequently heard they are taken as rock-solid reality. A lot of people might think the world is still flat, too, but that doesn’t make it so. In fact, the Barscene Bogeyman is another one of those sacred dogmas of single life that frightens us away from the full range of choice to which we are entitled. I say it deserves a sound rational thrashing!

Confessions of a Recovering Bar Phobic

Before I lay into this favorite of all singles delusions, I must confess that I was once bar phobic myself. Twenty-four years of married socializing did not prepare me for the first time I walked into a country-western nightclub after my divorce. I had come there to live out a promise to myself that, once single, I would grab all the gusto I could. Or at the very least, go dancing as much as I pleased. I was astounded to discover that a crowd of strangers having some raucous fun could shake me to the core.

Dazed by the sudden onslaught of light and sound, overcome by piercing self-consciousness, I didn’t even have time to avoid eye contact with any of the men in the club. I just knew I was being eyed critically, and within a few seconds I realized dancing was out of the question. As for gusto, well . . . a friend guided me to a table where I could sit with my back to the wall and avoid drawing the attention I was ashamed to admit I had come there to get.

I had fallen under the power of the Mythic Meat Market. It was an unexpected come-down for me. After all, my friends consider me a veritable Jaguarwoman of personal risk-taking. What could be so intimidating to Jaguarwoman about a building with music and dancing and strangers in it? The intensity of that fight or flight panic aroused one of my favorite emotions – indignation – and I began to question what, precisely, I was so afraid of.

Fear of People & Places

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