“We’ll be heading back now, is anyone going to stay back to check the place out?” our professor asked politely, one foot already turning to descend into the subway station and head back to our hostel. Despite the seemingly fatigued disposition of the group, a number of us raised hands and agreed to remain in Piccadilly a small while longer, myself not originally among the bunch. Piccadilly is a louder, busier part of London, it is loaded with big glowing signs (even an entire building lined with them) and a plethora of places to shop. Though slumber and silence I deeply desired, I felt compelled to remain about that evening. I’d only be in London for a brief time and, though I much liked to retire until the morrow, my conscious pleaded that I stay. And so, despite a hazy hint of hesitation, I did just that.

Our sleepier friends departed, and the rest of us were on our own in Piccadilly. I thought to myself “We’ll be brief, perhaps lazily swift! A soft stroll down somewhere still and almost silent will certainly suffice! A shop, perhaps? Maybe even a–“ My previous thoughts were suddenly interrupted by more thoughts, those preceding akin to a handcar, while these a roaring locomotive. My eyes had drifted to a sign, glowing and neon, uncomfortably bright in contrast to the brisk evening’s starry skies. This particular sign was attached to what appeared to be a bar, no– a nightclub, and we were rapidly approaching its noisy figure. “Could that be our destination?” I thought with a mild anxiety. Quick to challenge my assumption (and not to give away my growing uncertainty and bashful distaste to those around me), I calmly asked “Where are we actually going right now?” “Tiger Tiger!” One of them cheerily exclaimed. “Phew!” I thought to myself as a sense of relief rushed over me. “I thought we were going to that club.” I exclaimed internally, safe at last.

… I took another look at the neon sign, not having read it at my first glance.
I was wrong.
It was all wrong.

The familiar neon sign clearly read “Tiger Tiger”, a crucial detail I so foolishly overlooked in my first analysis of its form. I had never been to a night club before, nor ever did I plan to, but there we were, approaching the front door, each of us handing the bouncer an ID and making our way in. I pictured the environment in my head as I cautiously entered the foreign and otherworldly establishment. I couldn’t yet see in. In my imagination, I saw popped collars, neon glow everywhere, a shifty DJ playing old music that was too loud to properly even hear and crowds of people flailing their limbs around an open space that the youth of today refers to as “dancing”. But that was a Hollywood idea, right? Sure, it’s in films and movies, but there’s surely no way it could be anything close to a legitimate portrayal of a, ehem, “night-club”? It couldn’t be that bad! I made my way in.

I stepped through the open door. Everywhere I saw popped collars and neon glow everywhere. In the corner, a shifty DJ was playing music that was far too loud to properly hear. A crowd of people were all flailing their limbs around an open space (I hear the youth of today refers to it as “dancing”). Somehow, it was even louder than I had expected. Despite the intense volume, my group was still able to communicate with each other, but trying to hear them or say something myself was a lost cause, as I couldn’t hear a thing. I had only hoped no one would start doing the flailing thing… Which they did.

So sure, the place was fun, but not my cup of tea. It had its quirks and was interesting to say the least, but as someone who likes quiet places for Friday nights with no loud music or “dancing”, it wasn’t really for me. I’m certainly glad I got to experience it, as had I not gone that night, I didn’t think I ever would!

–Mitch Stanke