On a recent Saturday night in the city, I found myself in what I'd usually consider a strange situation: downstairs at TAO, lights flashing, music insane, with a sparkler-lined champagne bottle heading right towards me. Stranger still, I was having an amazing time.
Back when I first started going out in New York as a fresh-faced 17-year-old with a terrible fake ID and creepy promoter "friends," I'd roll my eyes at the ostentatious display and self-importance of my fellow underage tablemates as we sipped watered-down vodka cranberries handed to us by our "host."
After gulping down what would always end up being our one free drink, I'd head to the dance floor and wouldn't return to the table until it was time to dig through the coat pile and go home. What reason was there to squeeze around a dripping wet table mostly filled with mixers, anyway?
Then, in my early twenties, once I was able to get through the doors on the merits of my own hotness (half kidding), my friends and I had no need or desire to interact with douchebags impressed by their ability to bribe models with bottles provided to them by the establishment. We checked our coats and hung out by the bar, standing and dancing in six-inch heels, and when the inevitable sparkler march of an overpriced bottle of Grey Goose began, we'd mock the group of finance bros or tacky European tourists it was heading towards. "Ugh, so obnoxious! Who do they even think they are?"
You couldn't pay me to talk to those people, let alone approve of their money-wasting peacocking. And while I do love to dance, the whole spectacle eventually turned me off from nightclubs in general. Why deal with all that when you can get down in the back room of a Bushwick dive bar, no kings and queens of the scene getting served on silver platters?
But now, as I approach 30, I'm mature enough to admit I was wrong. Not only does bottle service not suck, it's also the only way to have fun at the club. All those years I wasted hating show-offs, I could have just joined them! Which I realized at the table of a friend of a friend who invited us out just an hour before.
In the jam-packed, sweaty bodied, mini-dress filled room, I had a place to sit and wiggle my shoulders. The bouncers were nice to us. There was an endless stream of bubbly. Sure, I didn't pay the hundreds or, more likely, thousand dollars it took for the experience, but for once I wasn't judging the person who did. This is how you have a good time - no aching feet or strange men trying to grind on you, no waiting for an hour at the bar. And while I probably won't find myself at TAO again anytime soon, if and when I do, I'll have the sparklers, please.