She goes to a club for the first time the day before New Years’ Eve. He convinced her to go, though if she’s being honest it’s something she’s wanted to do for a while. A party full of uninhibited strangers. It’s right up her alley. Think of all the stories that play out.

It helps that he’s a regular. The club is like life blood to him. He’s been going since he was fifteen. He claimed he did it by sleeping with the bouncers. She’s only half convinced.

It also helps that there are other people going. One is a guy friend from high school, a regular as well. The other is an old friend of hers, a boy crazy genius of a girl, an odd mixture of maturity and naivety. It works for her though.

She’s only slightly jealous of the fact that her friend got a boyfriend before her.

She tells her parents she’s going to a concert.

They pull into the parking garage down the road, leaving their jackets in the car even though it’s 25 degrees out. The guys say that they should use the restroom in the Target above them. The ones at the club aren’t so nice. Or safe.

Her friend fixes her makeup in the mirror.

She’s got just a little too much on for someone who’s taken.

The bouncer barely even checks their IDs. He takes one look at them and knows they’re not over 21.

She likes the Xs on her hands though. Proof she actually went out.

It turns out she might as well have been going to a concert. She’s getting the same level of hearing damage anyway.

The floor literally vibrates underneath her feet when the bass drops.

She loves it.

It’s not a sleazy, hazy club. It’s somehow bright and dark with the lights on the dancefloor going.

Her guy friends are both good at pole dancing, she finds out.

He’s willing to admit her other friend is better though.

As the dancing picks up, she starts worrying about her bra showing from under her tank top as she moves.

Her friend gets hit on before her.

A lesbian in a green dress tries to dance with her though.

It’s a gay club, after all.

She turns out to be a nice girl. Green dress girl dances with her and her friends even after getting turned down.

She really gets into it about an hour or so in. That’s when the crush sets in. Suddenly there’s barely any space. All of her self-conscious thoughts go out the window because there’s not even room to dance, just shimmy.

Everything tunes out.

There’s just pounding music, and movement.

She’s not sure why that makes her feel sexy.

Maybe it’s because she’s not thinking.

They take breaks in a room full of pay to play air hockey and pool tables. It’s quieter there, only by a little, but good enough. It’s definitely cooler though, the dancefloor is blazing.

A can of caffeine kicks her back into the mood, and now she can’t wait to dance.

Her friend not so much.

The more she smiles, the sadder her friend starts to look.

Even the guys notice.

She finds out you get hit on more the sadder you look.

When their guy friends leave them alone, they get hit on by a pair of sleazy looking guys. They follow them around the dancefloor. One of them hits on her friend once, and then her twice. They say no, and then pretend to be lesbians to get them to go away. That doesn’t stop them. The whole thing is disgusting, and she ends up using one of her guy friends as a human shield.

She can’t say it wasn’t flattering though.

He says that the one guy’s a regular like him. He’s Nicaraguan, apparently. She’d thought the guy was Indian for some reason.

The night peters out as her friend loses steam. They go home before the club closes.

She’s still high on the experience.

She sore the next two days.

Of course, she goes back with him the next weekend.

This time she goes with him and two other girls, her old friend and another high school friend.

Her old friend checks herself in the mirror, and asks if she can borrow her phone in the club. She says her boyfriend worries when he doesn’t know where she is.

She’s still not sure about him.

They enjoy themselves.

They share water, passing it around like they do this every day.

She gets lost in it again.

There’s a drag show that night.

It’s fun to watch, but all she wants to do is dance.

The Nicaraguan and his friend hit on her and her old friend. They’re even grosser this time.

It’s still flattering.

For a minute she doubts her self-esteem, if she’s willing to take that as a compliment.

The music drowns out her next thought.

They go home at the end of the night this time.

She can’t wait until summer, when she can go again.

A few weeks later, back in college, she’s still thinking about it.

Every other thought is something terrifying. Something about how she doesn’t know what she’s doing, or how she’d kill to be in a relationship, any relationship, or how she’s afraid all of her friends are leaving her behind, or how she’s worried she’ll never do anything.

But when she goes clubbing she doesn’t think about that. She just dances, and moves, and laughs, and avoids the creepy guys.

She doesn’t think.

She’s dying to not think anymore.