From the outside, the club on Bui Vien street looked exactly like the ones he’d known from his hometown. Crowded silhouettes of twentysomethings raising the roof, the hum of 90s dance bass seeping from under the double doors flanked by fake palm trees.
But as soon as he stepped inside, wading through the crowd, he noted the difference, one that would characterize most Asian clubs he’d visit. Everyone was standing in place at standing tables decorated with ‘reserved’ signs. There’s no roaming here, only dwelling, prebooked idling with friends. Keeping strangers out of the equation. The inflation of VIP space.
He felt estranged and unable to socialize, as he’d come alone. Then suddenly, a string of Linkin Park songs came surging from the speakers. Cheering from all the tables, chanting to the chorus of One Step Closer and Numb, novelty glowsticks held high. A small gesture to Chester Bennington, the angsty narrator of globalized teenage lives.
He felt understood at that moment, with his flat mojito in between groups, he didn’t need to mingle to experience that moment as he was supposed to, and as he did intuitively.