When you reach for the prescriptions instead of the lasers, how old is too old to keep clubbing?

A work mate joked to me the other day “Aren’t you a bit too old to be gallivanting around night clubs?” It was one of those comments that was said in jest, but had an undertone that was deadly serious. I’ve had certain demons floating around my head for years about this route of questioning and turning forty, late last year, has made it seem an even more poignant question that I wrestle with regularly. Not only do I think about that but I ponder to myself ‘what is too old to rave?

Have you ever been at a rave and seen a more mature clubber, cutting some shapes, looking rather dishevelled and with a face that looks like it really enjoyed – what they would enthusiastically tell you, given the chance – the best drugs (and tunes) in the 90s. You see plenty of it at festivals and even more if you venture to Ibiza. Older ravers with not a care in the world, appreciating the music and freedom to express themselves via dancing. They’ve displaced the chip on their shoulder a long time ago. However there is still a thought amongst society in general, that clubbing is really only a young person’s game

Ask yourself have you ever thought “maybe you need to hang up your dancing shoes dude”, when you’ve seen an older raver busting some moves? Then ask yourself when do you think YOU will hang up your dancing shoes? If you are in your early twenties, you’ll be thinking your thirties is an age away and you’ll enjoy some of the best/craziest/messiest times of your life in those twenties. If you manage to avoid having kids and/or getting under the thumb, your thirties will come along in no time and then you’ll be a bit more of a refined clubber. You’ll have tweaked your musical tastes and will go through listings, with a fine tooth comb, to select events that have your favourite DJs and artists performing. Gone is the scatter gun approach of your twenties. But you’re still loving it and now, even with experience on your side, you still think your forties is waaaaaaaay too far away.

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For the sake of this article, let’s say that by your forties, you are happily married, 2.4 children, nice home, the full nine yards, but in your twenties and thirties you were shaking it like a Polaroid picture. Now reality bites though. You can’t go clubbing every week. You’ve got kids and a mortgage: Priorities. You do however really want to have one blow out this year, let your hair down, remember those heady days, maybe even try and see whether the drugs are like what they used to be? You deserve it. There may well be that creeping thought in your mind though, the one that brings a little doubt, the way that makes you think “Do I really belong here?”

There is no set age, no set mind set. Some will have doubts, like myself. Some just won’t give a damn and embrace it with wild abandonment and to those, I salute you. Let me ask you a different question then: Are any festivals, events or pretty much anything to do with dance music culture, marketed to the older generation? The only thing you’ll find is more niche ‘club classic’ events. It’s not just the odd clubber thinking “you’re too old” but most of the big businesses behind it all are definitely saying that. Radio One has an age demographic of 15-29. Anyone over that, they are insinuating that you should switch over to Radio Two for middle of the road dirge like Mumford & Sons and James Morrison. Fight the power. Fifty years old and still love listening to Annie Mac? You keep doing that mate.

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There is a bit less stigma attached to the DJs and how old they are. They’ve built the scene in to what it is. They are pioneers. DJs like David Morales, Pete Tong, Paul Oakenfold, Tony Humphries are of an age that collectively you couldn’t get enough candles in your local Tesco to put on a birthday cake for them all. Playing in clubs and in front of huge crowds at festivals is their job of course. They are paid to potentially be the oldest person in the room. Do you think they care about that? Maybe the DJ fee softens the blow? Maybe playing fresh music to an eager crowd energises them, recharges their batteries and makes them feel young, even if the passport says otherwise. I guess there isn’t any real definitive answer to my underlying question of ‘What is too old to rave?’ The main factors will come down to the following points:

1) How much do you love the music?
2) Can you mentally handle clubbing with much younger people?
3) Can your body hold up to excess and late nights like you used to?
4) Does your partner/situation allow you to?

If all of that holds up, just keep doing what you’re doing.

Finally, if you see an older clubber at an event, embrace that. Who knows, they could even become part of your extended clubbing family, they’ll have great stories to tell, know about cheeky little venues you know nothing about, turn you on to DJ’s and artists you may well have missed and you can always go back to theirs for after parties, as they won’t be living at home with their parents!

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About the author

Resident DJ for Kinky Malinki for over 15 years. Trainer enthusiast, goalkeeper and collector of too much stuff. Have been dipping my toe in to the world of writing for quite some time having written for Azuli Records in the past, along with doing Kinky Malinki’s press work and writing a sneaker spread for an urban lifestyle magazine called 24/7 Live Listings. I’ve always go too much to say, especially when it comes to the dance industry, so what better way than to channel it in to articles for Decoded Magazine.

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