One writer vs. America's fruitiest cocktails.
1. Into the heart of darkness
Until recently, my impression of "Ladies' Night" was founded entirely on postcard-sized flyers handed out in Times Square — the ones covered in glittery silhouettes of women, with curly fonts announcing names like "Elegant Opulence," and promises of free "juicy jars." In my mind, Ladies' Night was like Narnia. It was a place where booze was always fruity and half-priced, the DJ never snorted at your request for a "Mariah Carey block," and members of Danity Kane were paid to perch on chaise lounges and breathe at you. With eleven years of living on Long Island under my belt, I believed I was ready to transition into the world of sophisticated mamas.
Initially, my plan was to pop my Ladies' Night cherry at a frat bar which claimed it was "not responsible for lost or stolen virginities," because nothing says, "Welcome, ladies," like a rape joke. This plan was foiled after learning that the bar had recently closed for good. (Sorry, Daniel Tosh!) Plan B was to hit two Ladies' Nights in one night, a previously unheard feat of tolerance and endurance.
2. "What the fuck do ladies wear to Ladies' Night?"
While I would like to pretend that the Nerve muckity-mucks chose me to pen this piece because I'm the quintessential lady, the truth is that I've never been much of a girly-girl. (In all the car-radio singalongs of my youth, I was expected to cover the guest appearances by male rappers. As the saying goes, "Always the Ja Rule, never the Ashanti.") But getting ready for Ladies' Night made me feel even less like a lady than usual. As the Night approached, I was sitting in front of my closet, surrounded by crumpled dresses, wearing only underwear and a pair of hospital socks. Instead of delighting in the feminine ritual of dressing up and "putting on my face," I was whimpering over the fact that I only owned one crop top.
The women covering the promotional flyers looked sensual, sexy, confident, and mysteriously iridescent. They looked like they lived every day like it was a Shania Twain lyric. I was going to have style and grace and be a winner, goddamnit. So I forewent my usual style — once described as "Laura Ingalls Wilder meets a caravan of Roma" — and pulled out a dress that I last wore to a Sweet Sixteen. When I was sixteen. I was basically covering my vagina with a whisper. I dug deep into my womanly arsenal, pulling out a pair of crusty false eyelashes and a Victoria's Secret body mist, and glued and shellacked until I was looking (and smelling) like a 19th-century woman of ill repute.
3. A shocking discovery
The first club was in Chelsea. Its promotional materials described it as a "nightlife stadium." Ladies were guaranteed free admittance and an open bar until midnight. Despite feeling like I had regressed to middle school, I walked into the club with nary a second glance. The bouncer even winked at me. After successfully navigating some draped swathes of labia-esque curtain, I made a beeline to the bar. Inspired by Daniel Day-Lewis, I committed fully to my character type and ordered a vodka-soda, straining to be heard over DJ Fatfingaz's bass-popping beats. I received a glass of seltzer. Quelle surprise.
Currently, Ladies' Night discounts are illegal in California, Maryland, Wisconsin, and Pennsylvania, on that grounds that the promotional events violated state and local statutes on gender discrimination. The various male plaintiffs who brought the cases to trial argued that Ladies' Nights were unfair — that there was no reason that women should get better deals. But while sitting at that purple-tinged bar, drinking my fourth soda-soda, I discovered a not-so-secret truth:
Ladies' Night… is for men.
Sure, most clubs' Ladies' Nights sound like the bat mitzvah you never had because your parents were "poor" and you weren't "Jewish." But at its most basic, Ladies' Night is a beautiful, strobe-lighted watering hole. We lady antelope are lured to the water's edge by the promises of frolicking and cold drinks, but lo and behold, our presence attracts some dude hyenas. Predictably, all hell breaks loose, and soon you're so hydrated that you find yourself in Murray Hill with a hyena chomping on your bits.
The funny thing is, most of these ladies kind of, sort of want to be hunted, even by guys who look like Lance Burton. Why? Women are trained to believe that only a male subject can confirm their desirability. Thus, without the legitimization of male attention, some women feel invisible — ya dig? Sadly, in most cases, Ladies' Night isn't about celebrating ladydom or sisters doin' it for themselves; it's just another scene of women turning on each other. At this particular club, most of the women I saw were vacillating between looking at their smartphones and side-eyeing other women. After noticing that the dance floor was beginning to resemble an episode of The Bachelor (but with dance), I paused my scientific efforts for a much-needed cigarette. I had big questions, and I looked for answers from the friendly, winking bouncer. "What's the point of Ladies' Night?" I asked.
His answer was unhesitating: "We have to make sure that there aren't too many dicks on the dance floor."
I was immediately depressed. Ladies' Night was about creating buffers between penises? What would happen if two dicks happened to collide? (Would Cthulu return from Rl'yeh?)
The bouncer noticed the shift in my demeanor and pulled me to his chest in an enthusiastic bear hug. Quickly, I realized that this wasn't a palling-around kind of hug. "I think you are so sexy," he grunted into my neck. I made a hasty exit.
NEXT: "Everyone looked like a Kardashian and everything hurt."
4. Things get worse
For my next and final stop, I decided to go straight into the lion's den. After a quick, dread-filled walk, my journey, like all bogus journeys, had taken me to hell.
Since an integral part of Ladies' Night is Ladies, and because every Dante needs her Virgil, I had a longtime female friend meet me inside Webster Hall for their "Girls' Night Out" event. Even with a familiar face by my side, Webster Hall was still a living nightmare. No one is capable of love in Webster Hall. Everyone looked like a Kardashian and everything hurt. By the time I joined the festivities, ninety percent of the women in the club were at that part of the night when they are feeling young and alive, like a Thought Catalog piece just waiting to be written. Ergo, I got inadvertently slapped in the face a lot. Unseen hands kept grabbing at my body, half of the toilets were clogged, and I'm pretty sure they were playing one dubstep song for the entire four hours that I was there.
Whether it was a self-preservation technique or because the open bar finally caught up with me, I don't know, but thankfully, I don't remember most of what happened at Girls' Night Out. The one thing I do recall, seemingly in HD, is that one minute I was just minding my own business, and the next, there was a boner just up on my butt. Judy Blume doesn't exactly teach you how to handle a hard wang trying to burrow into your butt cheek like it's ready for hibernation. No one does. Because that shit ain't normal. After delivering a swift left elbow to the uninvited guest behind me, I turned around to find that the offending party had made a quick getaway. My butt was left to sense his penis like a phantom limb for the rest of the night.
5. The dénouement
Have you ever woken up cursing? The next morning, when my eyes drifted open, I was somehow already exhaling the clacking end of the word "fuck." Even my unconscious mind knew this was going to be rough. Looking back, I am fairly certain that it was my own stench that woke me; I smelled like a combination of rotten juice, menthol, and Davidoff's Cool Water. I didn't feel like a Carrie or a Samantha — I felt like an old-timey blues singer, weary bones and all. My cats wouldn't come near me. I once read about a cat that could predict the deaths of nursing-home patients; I think my cats sensed that something within me had gone to a better place.
In short, the feeling was certainly not right. Thanks, Kool and the Gang, but no thanks; I'm sticking with boxed wine and The Golden Girls from now on.