Adventures in solo clubbing

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Sitting in my musty shoebox of a hotel room in London, I almost consider not going. After all, last night’s partying took its toll, and the lonely 8am bus ride back to an unwelcoming bed was quite a buzz-kill. Maybe a nice cup of Earl Gray and an early night is just what the travel insurance ordered.

Then again, I’m in London on a Saturday night and I have two tickets for one of Fabric’s marathon parties, On & On & On. Terry Francis, Craig Richards, Tiefschwarz, Zip, Holy Ghost, The Revenge and a closing time of 2pm Sunday. That really isn’t the kind of proposition you bail on. So what if I’m the only person I can talk into going? It won’t be the first time I’ve braved Fabric by myself.

Some people really can’t understand the appeal of flying solo. For many of us though, it’s no big thing. There have even been inthemix forum threads dedicated to the topic, with a chorus of ITMers happily sharing their stories of going it alone.

Just last weekend, our reviewer for the Danny Howells Garden Party in Sydney decided that flaky friends were no obstacle. The review puts in a rousing case for the lone wolf mission. “Being there solo, I realised how insular I usually am,” writes arrestthatpanda. “With my ‘friends’ there, I don’t mingle. But from now on I might just pretend I’m alone and meet new people.” (We particularly like ‘friends’ in inverted commas).

Of course, clubbing is a shared experience, so it seems a bit counter-intuitive – or to some people, outright weird – to venture out on your own. Sometimes, though, you can’t be ruled by the whims of your friends*. So what if they don’t understand that tonight is unmissable, or they’re committed to that house-warming where everyone’s going to have the same conversations again? It’s time to take matters into your own hands.

[*Let me say here out of vanity that I do have friends. We go out. I am not a full-time lonely heart.]

I have a few prerequisites for the solo mission. It can’t be a 200-person club in my hometown that’s possibly going to be a quarter-full. I don’t want to sit in a booth drinking compulsively to look busy. It has to be a dark, heaving, ‘couldn’t talk to my friends even if they were here’ kind of place. It has to be somewhere like Fabric.

This brings me back to July 2010 and my one-man expedition to London’s infamous underground warren.

“Are you picking up both tickets?” asks the door girl innocuously.

Okay, may as well. You’d think that with so many people, all in their zones, a lone clubber will just blend into the haze. Rarely is that true. It turns out you’re pretty obvious, particularly if you’re tall and male. Spanish tourists will invariably mistake you for the local drug tsar, their disappointment palpable when you shake your hapless Australian head.

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GoodLove said on the 15th Apr, 2011

"And you want to be pretty sure that the music will be great: immersive, varied, danceable."

Basically the cornerstone of the solo run.

Best in Perth by far = Ambar


daverh said on the 15th Apr, 2011

Excellent feature Jack. Some cracker stories in there! I've done the solo thing many times and definitely enjoy it.


rismeq said on the 15th Apr, 2011

Good stuff Jack, I think going solo is all about state of mind and music appreciation anyway! :-)


AliceElizabeth said on the 15th Apr, 2011

Cool topic for a feature!


libby said on the 15th Apr, 2011

solo is awesome! nice one Jack


chenzo said on the 15th Apr, 2011

I'm a solo fan! It can show a true apreciation of the music above the personal insecurities of being alone in public.....either that or you're a crack head! (im the former not the latter btw!)

miss dee xx

miss dee xx said on the 15th Apr, 2011

Ok, so this is kind of not the same thing, but I went to a concert that I wanted to get front row for. None of my friends wanted to come or decided they wanted to go once the tix were sold out, so I went by myself and lined up for 12 hours alone & made friends with others in the line. Had it not been for one of the friends I'd made in the line, I wouldn't have gotten front row, once the gates were open & everyone stormed for the stage. First time I've done something like that! It was definitely an experience and put me slightly out of my comfort zone, but it was worth it! I met some interesting people, had great conversations, as well as getting to experience the concert from front row like I wanted. I recommend that everyone do something like that at least once. You never know who you can meet or what type of things you will experience.


Larkin90 said on the 15th Apr, 2011

i soloed stereosonic because none of my mates were keen and it was sick. nice feature


missjoeii said on the 15th Apr, 2011

I'd do this more (cause my not enough of my friends appreciate music), but sometimes it's just too awkward for a girl. Thoughts?


little_nicki said on the 15th Apr, 2011

I've been out solo heaps of times - if there's a DJ I want to see I'd much rather go on my own than miss out. Sometimes end up speaking to no one all night, often run into people I know anyway, sometimes end up with new, lasting friendships :)

Yes it can be dodgy for a girl to go out on their own, so you do need to be sensible and sober to a degree. I go out on my own in Sydney but sure as hell wouldn't in London.

autumn acid

autumn acid said on the 15th Apr, 2011

First night in Paris I headed off to social club flying solo as my gf had not arrived from her provincial tour thing yet. Managed to chat to a bunch of guys in suits celebrating some contract/job they got. I wormed a few drinks out of them but then they told me that I had to earn it by getting girls to drink with them. It was extremely easy given that I told most girls that we could have free drinks if they could stay and chat for a while. Anyway, mission accomplished. Cranking night. Unforgettable. Left at 4am absolutely fuck faced and all I spent was 12 euros on entry and 11 euros for my first drink.

Oh yeah, and Busy P, Mehdi, and half of Justice was playing that night for 12 fucking euros.


discoferret said on the 15th Apr, 2011

Had some brilliant random nights out on it with me, myself and I just to go check out a DJ I want to hear, I've found you can really get the vibe of the city with no particular agenda to be slave to. OK, it is a bit harder if you can't speak the language of the country you are in that well but you have fun trying to explain you have no idea what they are banging on about!! Common language makes it slightIy easier!!

I drove to LA from San Diego one night just to go see Danny Howells play and as suspected, the crowd was pretty shallow and didn't really want a bar of conversation; I ended up chatting to Danny more than anybody else that night, he was super friendly!

Another night, first time out in San Francisco, all my mates got too hammered and went home early but Seb Fontaine had just kicked it down another gear so I wasn't about to cut and run with the music bumping. The SF locals are polar opposites of LA; they totally give a shit about where you are from and what your story is; I'd fully recommend a solo session there! And of course, in the same league at the top of the table is Melbourne, I met the crew behind Luke Warm Picnic when pointed towards one of their day/night silly-a-thon's a few years back and we have been great mates ever since, that probably takes the cake as the all time mono mission!!

So yeah, go it alone now and then I say, it is well worth the effort!! Good topic!! Now somebody tell us a story about a solo mission gone bad!!!


MitchhctiM said on the 15th Apr, 2011

Quality Feature. Thoroughly enjoyed it Jack.


raver777 said on the 15th Apr, 2011

i'm heading out solo tonight to Armin, my first time to a big gig like this but I'm open to whatever happens, its funny cos last time I went to Good Vibes I spent the first 5 hours by myself and then when I met up with my mates, we rarely spoke to each other, I guess everyone was in their zone. I know the trance family is very welcoming so tonight will surely be an adventure!


HOTBARBITCH said on the 16th Apr, 2011

Being a shooter for ITM I head out on my own a lot even though I have a 1 which my friends would love to have. It just gets hard trying to socialise with a single friend when mixing with the punters when tacking their pics. Thing is everyone is your friend anyway so you don't end up having to "sit in a booth drinking compulsively to look busy." Then when I don't want to talk to anyone I just take photos of lights, DJ's, etc.

But I have to say that I have made many great friends from flying solo and will continue to for a long time....


joshforrest said on the 16th Apr, 2011

nice article.... even just being out and about and watching people is entertaining.....


JordanS said on the 16th Apr, 2011

Went to Global Gathering UK solo, camping and all. Still in contact with the people I met there - it's been years! Solo all the way.


davecw said on the 17th Apr, 2011

Going solo is a weird one i have been out solo a few times and found it awkard and not the same.

However when i do go out with my mates i end up normally spending more time doing my own thing then with them. So its ironic i don't dig the whole solo thing.

I have had solo people come up to me and have a chat and thats fine but its awkward when they don't leave and end up following you around the whole night.


Jazzpah said on the 17th Apr, 2011

I think everybody should jump at the chance to perfect the art of solo-ing. Oh how the world would be a much better place if the only people that went to gigs were those who went for the music <3


prjkt said on the 17th Apr, 2011

Being a shooter for ITM I head out on my own a lot even though I have a 1 which my friends would love to have. It just gets hard trying to socialise with a single friend when mixing with the punters when tacking their pics. Thing is everyone is your friend anyway so you don't end up having to "sit in a booth drinking compulsively to look busy." Then when I don't want to talk to anyone I just take photos of lights, DJ's, etc.

But I have to say that I have made many great friends from flying solo and will continue to for a long time....

Been doing the same for almost two years now, covering sometimes three gigs in a night means that there's usually no chance to rock up/leave with mates, along with having to drive from one end of the Melbourne to the other sometimes (one night started in Mordialloc, then to the CBD, out to Hawthorn, then finishing up on Chapel St in Prahran). Lucky I don't drink...

But I've made a fair few mates doing so, it's rare that I rock up to a venue and not know someone there


Kat_in_Japan said on the 17th Apr, 2011

Brilliant article Jack! :-)

I have done LOADS of solo clubbing in the last 10 years and have had some amazing adventures, met awesome people and had nights with surprises. In 2010, I went to Sonar in Barcelona solo, and in 2009, Amsterdam Dance Event solo as well. Challenging to do alone but ultimately they both became awesome experiences that I'll cherish forever.

Clubbing solo means you can do what you want, without having to have a 'group decision' dictating the night's plans ... however that said, when it comes to solo clubbing, you do need to pick-and-choose the nights/venues that you attend, some are just not suitable for the solo clubber (as Jack mentioned). I've had occasions where the venue was too quiet, or the vibe wasn't right, and the night didn't go to plan ... But when it IS 'right', it can be one amazing night!


thesuntoucher said on the 17th Apr, 2011

Great article mate. Am only just starting to appreciate the solo mission, as sometimes when you have your friends there there is always this dynamic of having to please everyone. On your own you can listen to what you want, and leave when you like.


dragonsfire said on the 18th Apr, 2011

i am a loaner, so i am on my own most of the time. Its not the best for picking up. when i am out with friends i feel a bit resticted but it is nicer with a group id have to say. if you are out alone my advice, stick to the shadows and only talk to people who talk to you first.


dheyburn said on the 18th Apr, 2011

Quote of the year JackT "Or %u2013 the one I%u2019d like to trumpet %u2013 an unerring love of going out. After all, it gets to the essence of why we swear by dance music; that collective release in a room full of strangers" - The release and sharing that moment with other likeminded people, there for the same reason is overwhelmingly gratifying. I'm a 50/50 (solo/group) person and but generally have the best nights solo. The music is the cornerstone however. You can have a great night with friends and average music but good music to lose yourself to is a must when solo. Hahaha - have to agree that being a 6 ft and male and in the zone does attract all the wrong questions whether chemical or sexuality based. Great read.


Kiron said on the 18th Apr, 2011

Always go clubbing alone because all my friends are Hipsters now and only listen to Indie.

Also I'm anti-social as fuck so I typically spend the entire night dancing or sitting by myself.
So Ronery...


DANCINGDI said on the 18th Apr, 2011

I just love flying solo . !! Now I always go on my own but there are always people I know, but it was so good when I knew no one. I have met some wonderful people though. Done it here of course, London and Buenos Aires. !! London I was there for three weeks and Steve Lawler was on Harlem Nights @The end. And Satoshi @ Turnmills, there was no way known I wasn't catching them because I had no one to go with. !! Both clubs now defunct unfortunately. Buenos Aires had been a dream of mine and when circumstances came together so I could go I seized the opportunity with both hands. !! Partying with 7500 Argentineans will be pretty damn hard to beat. I don't speak Spanish, but it didn't stop me making new friends. Some of whom have kept in touch. :)


Saopaulino said on the 18th Apr, 2011

Currently in Sao Paulo Brasil for the third time solo and wouldnt have it any other way. This time saw Mason@Mokai, Sebastian Leger@ DEdge and PvD playing @ Serina on the coast this weekend with and without local friends - god bless it either way.


bussyboy said on the 18th Apr, 2011

Love the loner night out - actually prefer it. Don't feel committed to anything or anyone, I can do what I want without thinking "is everyone having a good time".

Besides, for me, the night out is about the music.

or maybe I haven't met the right people...


matzta73 said on the 18th Apr, 2011

I have gone solo a number of times, Ferry Corsten at home nightclub a few years back is one of them (great night) I met a couple of other soloers there too. At the end of the day it all comes down to if you are comfortable with yourself and who gives a shit, it is none of your business to worry about what other people think...


Pacboi83 said on the 19th Apr, 2011

Ive done Sydney oxford street solo - now thats a hard gig to rock solo because of the clicky nature of its clientele but festivals and big gigs in the EDM world is slightly easier. We are all there because we love an artist so we already have something in common, easy to strike up a chat.

And i think, even if i go with mates, i end up solo'ing to some extent at most festivals. Most of my mates are hardcore trance lovers but my tastes have a bit more width. Meaning if a trance big-wig is playing and i want to go here some minimal techno, then ill just go and find new mates at whatever tent i rock up at lol.

Solo'ing FTW!!!!! Having a clicky mates can get in the way of new mates and that would suk!!


hdskp said on the 19th Apr, 2011

I%u2019ve only ever been by myself when venturing to music events whether they are huge festivals like the BDO etc to small clubs and indie events. The last few years I haven%u2019t ventured out at all for music events. If I go out with people it%u2019ll be a weird experience

Although music is a social exercise and the earliest music must have been communication based as much as anything else, music%u2019s become a very individual and personal thing to me. So even if I go out it%u2019s not a social exercise at all.

For me it%u2019s been very enjoyable cause I don%u2019t have to worry about others and I see, hear and do what I want. Bar clashes I don%u2019t miss what I went out for.

That said I%u2019ve had some bad experiences namely being assaulted and harassed by some jerks from primary and high school years after graduation and been given a hard time by security and just jerks. And as I don%u2019t do drugs and drink (I can though) it%u2019s been alienating seeing so many people just go crazy etc it%u2019s definite different wavelengths. Also I don%u2019t dance lol. And yes goth nights, small clubs you%u2019ll definitely feel way out of place if you%u2019re by yourself. Big events are the best for going solo I think. That said I don%u2019t like big events very much.

Nowadays I don%u2019t have the time or money or desire to go out bar maybe some bands and I find the atmosphere much more aggressive in a lot of places and often the sound quality is shit and way too loud (even with ear plugs). Rave wise Bush Doofs/Psy raves are where it%u2019s at for best vibe and community. Even if you don%u2019t do drugs and by yourself you%u2019ll have fun and be left alone (usually).

It%u2019s been interesting my love for eletronica has been long but I don%u2019t really go out. In this time frame I%u2019ve seen 3 waves of people I know do the whole rave loldrugs thing and then leave. Just a common thing I think.

I%u2019m still loving electronica every day and if I go out you%u2019ll see me back centre but I%u2019d rather listen at home and buy CDs etc nowadays


loulou85 said on the 19th Apr, 2011

Thanks for the push to try a solo mission one day :)


Vanz_ said on the 20th Apr, 2011

Currently in London solo as well, thought about braving it to A&B's Group Therapy show in Leeds but bailed out on the prospect of spending more than 4x the price of the tickets on a 6 hour return train trip.


moojins said on the 20th Apr, 2011

Top article. More like this, less about Deadmau5 please.


3anceaddict said on the 20th Apr, 2011

I'm in my 40s and have never been able to stop my addiction for being in and with the crowd when one of my favourite DJs are playing! So, along the way I certainly had to make my way up and face the music going solo, afterall, not many of my mates go for the same taste - I guess. Have done it here in Australia, Europe, USA... and at times - a bit dawnting I must say... but possibly because of my mindset at those times, maybe, as I might be on the "mmm - am standing out a bit here... all on my own, am not as young, shirt is kept on at all times!" - but at other times, like in Vegas, at Tiesto's best club The Joint, the crowd was great and conversations as well as new friends came on easy... True that some friends turned up like Jack's new found mate - but hey... I take it that we all went in there, first and foremost, for the the music and the vibe - so, no worries, meeting new people is always great regardless of races and skin colour - including the ones that go by the rainbow flag... But, if not much to ask, any comments on the age subject?!


lawlietskyy said on the 27th Apr, 2011

anywhere in the world, Australians are loved... anywhere - except australia


lucky87 said on the 7th May, 2011

Advice for girls going solo in Australia: rule no.1, avoid overly excessive amounts of alcohol/drugs, rule no.2, a fake engagement ring works well if you are wanting to enjoy the music and not get hassled (got mine for a grand total of $18, looks totally real!) rule no.3, keep a very close eye on your drink, and try to drink premixed stuff in bottles or cans, and finally, rule no.4, face the front and put your hands in the air like you just don't mind!
I have never done the full night solo, but have been the last one standing on many different occasions and have ended the night in an afterhours club alone, having an awesome time. The truth is that despite how self concious you may feel, not everyone in the room is looking at you wondering why you're dancing by yourself, chances are they're too wrapped up in themselves. If you are really struggling, spend 5 minutes standing in front of the mirror in the girls toilets with the following: chewing gum, a mini can of hairspray or a small bottle of perfume.. I guarantee you'll make friends :)


RenaissanceRox said on the 29th Jun, 2011

Going solo to see Scooter was one of the best decisions I ever made. Still can't believe that my friends think that their music taste is just so damn superior that they couldn't come along and get pissed with me in the front row shouting "HYPER HYPER!!" like it was 1992.

Sure, the whole crowd was just (hyper hyper) 14 year old boys, but I still had a kick ass time and HP Baxxter changed his bejewelled tshirt three fucking times! ... That's entertainment!!

Burnt Angel

Burnt Angel said on the 3rd Aug, 2012

I recently solo-ed Surkin at SURVIVOR as all my mates were either to poor, too posh, or turned up at 2am without women...
Ended up making a mate in line who graduated the year after I did and I knew a couple of lads he went to school with.
Ended up there for 6-7 hours, but the thing that got me was the podiums. I knew that to make the night go faster I had to dance. So dance I did. Atop one of the podiums with about 3 other randoms.
Best part was when I see this chick make this bee-line for me. She climbs up and aks "what are you on?"
I'm like "Sorry, what?"
She goes "What are you on? Do you have any more?"
Now, I was barely even drunk, let alone high or something... So I just shrugged, mumbled and generally made out as if I was in no state to answer her.
So I guess that's another 'consequence' of going solo in a club.


oliversphotos said on the 3rd Aug, 2012

This is pretty much the summary of any photographer who shoots gigs, no 1, friends don't want to go, packing gear, have a few drinks. You either love it or you hate it. You've got to develop a pathological insanity to talking to people, dealing with assholes, and sometimes just winging it, and jump a fence when the door guy says you're not on the list, and you've made the trip already.


katiecunningham said on the 3rd Aug, 2012

Hahahaha Jack, I will never get sick of reading this.


katiecunningham said on the 3rd Aug, 2012

Hahahaha Jack, I will never get sick of reading this.