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Why Do We Insist on Socializing at Night?

It’s terrible and makes no sense

05.19.17

I started pseudo-napping in bars senior year of college. My sudden and apparently permanent disinterest in staying out late hit me like a second wave of puberty. It truly felt like a chemical change had occurred inside me, except this time my haunted house of a body developed tiredness instead of chin acne.

My friends dutifully began documenting these episodes, which is great because I now have an adorable collection of photographs that illustrate my condition. Here is one of them:

Quick disclaimer — because I know what you might be thinking — I was not drunk in this photo. I’d had one drink, maybe two max, when it was taken. If I look a bit bleary (which, let’s face it, I do), it’s not because I was incoherent. It’s because I was resting my eyeballs and an iPhone camera flash was not-so-gently jolting me back to life, which I’ll admit I deserved.

Up until that year, I had no problem staying out late. In fact, I can recall multiple instances throughout college in which I stayed out dancing with my friends right through the next morning. NBD! We would migrate from dance floor to diner booth at sunrise, kicking off our shoes under the table, stretching our tired toes while digging into stacks of pancakes drowning in fake maple syrup, watching the sky turn from white to orange. I definitely felt exhausted after nights like those, but it was the invigorating kind of exhausted you might feel after a 30-minute jog — nothing a cup of coffee or a few hours of rest wouldn’t fix.

I think back on that time with bewilderment. It feels like another me — or, at the very least, another body. Nowadays, when 11:00 p.m. rolls around, all I want is to be tucked under my clean covers with a clean face and clean pajamas watching Master of None.

It’s frustrating that this desire is equated with being antisocial or intensely introverted, because that’s not how I would describe myself. I love my friends (except when they’re shining camera flashes into my reposing angel face!!!), and I enjoy socializing. I just don’t enjoy it in the wee hours of the night, during which my brain is rightfully accustomed to winding down.

I often resist the overwhelming urge to bail from late-night festivities, though, because hobnobbing in the dark seems to be society’s universally accepted mode of weekend fun, and I’m wracked with self-imposed guilt over the prospect of becoming that boring member of the group who can’t hang like a “normal” 25-year-old. It would almost feel like a moral failure. My skeleton is still lousy with youthful marrow. I can’t let that go to waste.

When I’m signing the merchant copy of my receipt at a group dinner on a Saturday night and someone inevitably says, “Where should we go out?,” I brace myself for what’s next: approximately four more hours of Googling directions with cold fingers, expensive cabs, dimly lit subway rides, waiting in lines, cover charges, watery vodka sodas, squatting over urine-sprayed toilets in dirty bathrooms, dancing in cramped semi-circles, trying to talk over 100-decibel music, getting elbowed in the ribs by a drunk stranger who knows all the words to Justin Bieber’s latest single, more watery vodka sodas, sweating into my new going-out top and pretending to be awake even though my cells have started slowly shutting down one by one.

WHY DO WE PRETEND THIS IS FUN? Or maybe it is fun for some people, or even most people, and I’m the only one who turns into a pulpy pumpkin after a certain hour. I’m curious, though, as to who decided our cultural obsession with circadian rhythms, eight-hour sleep cycles, bedtime “routines,” proper nutrition and self-care should go on hiatus from Friday evening through Sunday morning. Why is daylight suddenly uncool just because it’s the weekend?

You know what’s more fun when you’re freshly full of morning caffeine and not debilitated from 100% normal twilight-onset fatigue? Dancing! You know what’s a treat when you can actually hear your own voice? Conversation! You know what’s way easier with the illuminating aid of sunshine? Successfully balancing over a toilet! You know what’s significantly more delicious than a vodka soda? A mimosa!

When you think about it, there’s nothing you can do at night that you can’t do better in the daytime — except, perhaps, a discreet dance-floor make out — but I’m happy to personally shield you and your tongue partner with my very own shadow if it means getting the go-ahead to transfer all nighttime socializing to daytime hours. Deal?

Photos by Edith Young; documentation provided by Harling Ross.

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  • Adrianna

    I already wondered this while I was in college in NYC, and had the thought again when I was out until 2:30am this past weekend. I never understood why “going out” means paying money and hoping to find a seat in a loud, dark bar where we can barely see or hear each other. Plus, NYC is so much more pleasant on a Sunday morning than Friday night.

  • Anne Dyer

    “Squatting over urine sprayed toilets” Dying! So gross but so accurately written. In your thirties everyone collectively realizes it makes way more sense to start and end the night early. Day drink, a nice dinner and a long 10:00 pm shower before bed.

  • Hayley

    Harling, my darling, I feel the same way. I am practically the same age as you and it pains me to go out after 8 p.m. I want to be in my cozy bed with my cozy cats watching nature documentaries narrated by David Attenborough no later than 9 p.m. on a weeknight, and 11 p.m. on a weekend.

    • Holly Laine Mascaro

      This is a freakishly accurate reflection of my own life, cats and David Attenborough and all…

      • Hayley

        You clearly have an appreciation for the finer things in life.

    • Harling Ross

      This is a truly excellent itinerary

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  • Alexa M

    Yes! I’ve really been getting into boozy dinner parties instead for this reason – if someone offers to host, they’re much less expensive, you can actually hear each other talking, you can turn up the music afterwards if you feel like dancing, and I’m almost always in bed by midnight.

    • Harling Ross

      love a boozy DP

  • Sonia

    I cried the first time I saw the sun rise. Not because it was a beautiful sight, but because I couldn’t believe I’d been awake that long (and my body hurt and my eyes were sore and I wanted my bed with my fluffy pillow that I squish into a perfect blob for my heavy dome). I love me a bedtime that doesn’t start at the dawn of a new morning. Midnight is my MAX.

  • Vic

    Apart from a few exceptionally good nights, I always abhorred staying out past 11. It earnt me the nickname ‘nana’ by the age of 15. My friends gradually mellowed and now it’s normal for us to be leaving by 9pm and I love that they are the same as me now. If my boyfriend wants to go out, I flat out refuse now and tell him to go without me.

  • Where you are finding these sunshine illuminated toilets?

    I think this could be the new normal for 25-year-olds, I love staying in!

  • jackie

    the saying is… you know you’re becoming a grown up when you prefer day drinking to night drinking

    *i’ll take a boozy brunch to a night out ANY day*

  • Inaat

    Yes! I am 25 and I prefer going home at midnight or earlier, if i’m in the mood i can stretch it to 1 or 2. I enjoy going to bed at night and being in good shape the next morning.

    • Harling Ross

      “I enjoy going to bed at night” hahaha i love that this needs to be said. BUT YES SAME

  • Charlotte

    “It’s frustrating that this desire is equated with being antisocial or intensely introverted, because that’s not how I would describe myself”. Very, very frustrating.

  • THANK YOU!!! I’m 25 and am one of the only ones who feels this way in my friend group. Let’s make daytime cool again!

  • Allie

    YES to all of this!! Why do people still insist on doing something that is basically 4 hours of paying for ubers, shouting to attempt to hear each other and being around a bunch of strangers no one actually wants to interact with? I’m in my mid-20’s and find myself growing closer to friends who would rather go to a nice dinner or do an activity mid-afternoon and growing apart from those who still insist going to a bar with a floor my shoes stick to is the height of fun.

  • Holly Laine Mascaro

    PREACH, been on this train for years.

  • Merrynell

    I feel you a hunnid. I was out til 2 am last weekend (a feat for me nowadays!) and asked the bartender if they have tea.

    But it just hit me: do we like staying in now because the internet has made it trendy to stay in? #askingthehardhittingquestions

    • Harling Ross

      hahaha i’ve definitely ordered sparkling water before. tea is a very strong move

      • PtitNFit R

        OMG that was so me two weeks ago! I do enjoy the dance part but as you said, it is not a must just for the sake of proving to be a fun person and outgoing! There is just a right balance to find: once a week break the routine and enjoy the rest of the days a nice audible chat over a drink or dinner!

      • Mariana

        me too ahahah but in our family sparkling water is like holy water: it goes with everything!!

    • Katie Miller

      That sounds like my kind of bar 🙂 Did they serve you some? Please tell me they did!

      • Merrynell

        They sure did! They even gave me an extra teabag just in case!

    • No way! How does the internet Make it trendy? I think we all just like being awake during the daylight hours

  • Cynthia Schoonover

    I didn’t stay out late in my 20’s either. Why do something if it’s not fun for you?
    My husband and I are in our 60’s and if we do go to a party, we are usually home by ten. We also have the excuse of the dog has to go out, as he’s a little guy. I enjoy relaxing at home on the weekends because I need down time.

  • You’re not alone. I never go out at night anymore… sometimes even for dinner. Only lunches for me. Maybe that’s why my friends don’t ask me out anymore xD

    Charmaine Ng
    Architecture & Lifestyle Blog

  • This is why I love brunch. Meeting and drinking (I see you, mimosas) earlier in the day leaves so much more time for festivities before an appropriate bedtime!

  • Julia Schnell

    I co-sign this, even if I wouldn’t want to go dancing in a club at any hour.

  • Katy

    THIS IS SO TRUE
    Also, especially since it’s the weekend anyway? Like, if you’re going to socialize during the week it probably has to be at night, but I think the whole Saturday-daytime-in-PJs and Saturday-night-partying thing should be reversed.

  • Rebecca Lippert

    I’m 28 and there is little I hate more than late nights in an overcrowded space that is too loud for conversations and trying to “meet people” and make conversation. My husband seems to still enjoy it somewhat, inexplicably. Much rather do just about anything else during the hours of 9-9.

  • Meg S

    If you hit dinner right after work, you can get happy hour prices. Matinee movie prices are great too, because who wants to spend $10+ to sit in the dark for an hour and a half? I don’t go out at night. I’m a midday outing kind of person, and a late night for me is going over to my parents house for dinner and getting in around 9 pm on Sunday night. I really got wild and stayed out until 9:30 on Wednesday night. All the good TV is on at night anyway.

  • Living in Vegas has taught me to abandon the only going out at night rule. We have clubs here close at 10am, and then dayclubs open at 11am. Socializing is a 24 hour thing here. I actually really love it. If I want to go socialize at 6am, or 2pm, or 11:45am there’s always an option. My friends back home think it’s weird.

    Strangely though we don’t have a lot of 24hr coffeeshops. Sometimes it’d be nice to socialize outside of a bar. Then again, I guess people don’t come to Vegas to drink coffee …

  • My friends and I like brunch and being in bed at a reasonable hour.

  • Julia

    Long time lurker, first time commenter: Harling, you just GET me

  • Sofie Lystoft

    This is pretty much how i feel every weekend trying to make exuzes to leave the club by midnight and feeling hung-over the next day because i had 1 1/2 tequila soda and a cigarette. IT SUCKS! YAY for sunday gym at 7am and plenty of energy for closet organising and food prepping #adutingat26

  • Nikka Duarte

    This is everything I’ve been saying to my friends since the beginning of time. I’m happiest when I’m well rested! My body shuts down at 11! I want to sleep at 10 and wake up at 7 without a head splitting headache!
    That being said, about once a month I suddenly feel the urge to go out and dance till 5 am on a weekday. Kind of the way werewolves work.

  • Agreed! I’m 24 and I don’t mind going out every once in a while but I don’t those people that go out every weekend or even every day. I think day dates are more special/memorable too, because you described going out SO accurately, whereas during the day you can go to nice parks/beaches/etc. Now I just need to get my night owl friends on board.

  • Peter

    Chiming in with the chorus of brunchers and rosé drinkers

  • Liza

    The same happened to me. Worst yet, I am from Argentina where is cool to go to clubs at 2 AM!!!!! I remember taking night naps and waking up at 1 AM to get prepared….and got home at 6am

  • Bo

    Never has a Man Repeller article been so in sync with my inner monologue, ever, not even the one about wearing your shirt backwards

  • Kay Nguyen

    I’m not 21 (yet) so no bar for me but I normally don’t like don’t like staying out that late anyway! Personally I just want to stay in my apartment and watch some youtube videos when it’s dark outside, what’s wrong with socializing during the day anw? I think it’s fine but my friends think I’m super lame.

    https://www.myblackcloset.com/

  • Claire

    would you mind sharing where your sandals are from?

    • Ruby

      YES PLEASE. They’re gorgeous

      • Nora ´Fabian

        Chloé

  • Elizabeth

    I’M SO WITH YOU ON THIS!! I also often feel that self-imposed guilt and start getting down on myself that “I’m not making the most of my youth” or some other bullshit idea society lodged in my brain. Glad I’m not alone! I will take my fresh eyed cappuccino and a sunny morning walk on a Sunday morning over hungover bathroom visits any day.

  • Emmie

    and you know what’s easier than having to balance over a urine sprayed toilet in daylight? sitting on your own lovely clean one bc you spent the previous evening cleaning your bathroom listening to a podcast

  • Elizabeth

    I have never read truer words. At least you made it to 25. I’ve just turned 20 and think night clubs are the closest thing to hell on earth. When I’m in one with girls stomping on my toes in heels and guys elbowing me in the face, I look out into the crowd and think “If this building were to go on fire right now we’d all be screwed.” I can’t help it. I started college last year and you can imagine the struggle of trying to make friends and be cool when you can’t stay awake past half 11. They call me boring but I’m not! I just like having fun during the day!!

    I think all us day birds should get together for a mimosa and brunch.

  • Maria Jose Millán Freyre

    I particularly don’t like the fact that day dates are not common as night dates, specially for a first one, is that ‘too intimate’ now? seeing someone’s face and go to the beach or grab lunch while talking and actually hearing them?

  • this is my life and has been for several years now.
    my nickname is cinderella fr.

    HACK:
    go out early af (3,4,5pm). know your guys and gals who want to meet early and drink drink drink before hitting the club? JOIN THEM. by the time it gets dark they generally don’t know who is doing what so you can slink off into the night hehe (home for snacks and tv pls)

  • Isabella

    You look so radiant! Your hair and lipstick are giving me life.

  • Catherine Boardman

    As a recent college grad who also finds herself sleeping in bars (sorry mom, I know that isn’t easy to hear…) this article just summed up my entire past year / probable future. Brunch rules — going out is for fools! Love you Harling!!!

  • Janira Planes

    OMG! THAT JUST DESCRIBED ME, PRASIEEEEEEE! You go girl!!!

  • Amen, sister.

  • Sophia

    I agree! I am slightly younger and dread going out. It’s a constantly battling with myself because I clearly act like 67 year old rather than a young 20 something. But am always putting my hand up for Sunday Brunch.

  • Senka

    Love, love, love this! I am on the same boat, and even though I am 34 now, I was like this when I was 25 too.
    I prefer a daytime walk, lunch, brunch, coffee or a glass of wine, to any type of night socialization. It’s much more enjoyable to socialize freshly rested, while soaking up some sun or breathing in some fresh air, in places where I’m actually able to have conversation with people I’m with and I probably want to talk to. I guess our bodies are simply pointing out to what’s actually healthier and better for us.
    Even on work days I have a rule, most people who know me are well acquainted with. I’ll meet them after work for a drink or early dinner, but there’s no way I’ll stay out past 8 pm, unless the occasion is a theatre show or something like that.

  • Siobhan Taylor

    And god forbid the weeknight ‘industry events’ that keep you in a trendy bar chatting to people you don’t value enough to be missing out on this weeks episode of Game of Thrones.

  • Sabletoothtigre

    I too pulp at night.

  • jdo719

    I’m here to say It Gets Better. I’m 35 now, and ~28 I found that it became much more acceptable to opt out of the late-night schtick (which I had been itching to do since I was about 23) without a) feeling bad about yourself for being antisocial or b) getting too much flack from your night owl peers. Staying in on a Saturday night became an OK life choice! Getting old is glorious, really. And so is day drinking.

  • Namrata Bhavnani

    hahah ! this truly represents how I feel ! I feel you – the entire description of a late night out in your article is so accurate. I’m more of a day person and I hardly find company to do stuff during the day over a weekend! Glad to know a whole bunch of other people who are like-minded!

  • Ha ha. Glad you have so many of us among your ranks. I live each day to the fullest – averaging 20,000 steps in a day – so around 9:30-10:30p I completely clonk out.

    http://www.nynomads.com
    Living sustainably on $100/week in NYC

  • Kritsida

    Girl! Totally agree with you! I’m not an introvert, I just like my sleep haha! It’s so nice to enjoy the home you spend so much of your paycheck on!
    Be sure to check out my latest blog post!
    x. kritsida
    http://aperfectcanvas.net/