When an adult in Berlin or Vienna wants to spend an evening with company, there are two basic options: one can have a cozy dinner with friends at a restaurant or someone’s apartment, or one can go out. The second option may not be a radical step into the unknown, as there are familiar signposts, but nevertheless, when we go out, we switch into an entirely different mode of experience.
Now “going out” can mean all sorts of things: an art opening followed by dinner with the artist or artists and a visit to a club, or a certain constellation of bars and clubs where we are sure to meet acquaintances. Or we go to a specific club straight away, one that offers everything in a single package. But really, the distances we cover, the outside world fading in and out of the theater of our increasingly inebriated perceptions, the glistening pavement, diffuse light, car doors slamming, unexpected music in the cab: these are all part of it, the whole program.
The first variant, dinner with friends, is not necessarily any shorter or more sober. This sort of night among friends can be no less long—and no less boozy. Here, however, we get intoxicated not in order to enable ourselves to react more smoothly to new stimuli, but so we can bear the social density and concentration. Friends often show up in couples, and when they don’t, there are many long-term friendships boasting of accumulated intimacy not too different from the monogamous relationships that become the dominant model as we get older. This means that many possible constellations of arguments, agreements and disagreements of taste, antagonisms and harmonies of temperament and mentality, have already been played out, and may well have reached a stage at which they no longer ruffle any feathers. Still, these evenings demand our attention. We are curious to discern minute new details in well-rehearsed scripts.
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