I sometimes wonder what it must be like to find the conversation of your friends intolerably dull. Why else would you take them where normal conversation is made impossible by the volume of the music? I refer, of course, to those many bars and pubs where blaring, tinny pop dribbles incessantly from the speakers.
In contrast, there are some venues where people go to enjoy the music. There is a pub near my home that hosts a range of bands. Some of them even appeal to my eclectic taste. It also hosts DJs for events that carry on until the small hours. The music can be almost hypnotic, and there is clearly skill and artistry in good mixing. Since I am not a fan of this scene, I find it irritating that the walls and spaces between the pub and my bedroom fail to filter the lowest bass notes. I often lie awake at night musing on the deafening effects of being in the same room as the speakers that are delivering these beats through the pub’s specially sound-proofed walls to my flat, nearly a hundred yards away.
Are the punters unwitting victims of a loudness-obsessed culture that must surely damage their hearing? I used to pity them their obsession, thinking we might one day see a series of lawsuits against the entertainers for inflicting this damage, much like the tobacco cases still raging today. Surely no-one would self-harm in this way without reason?
Well, now I know better. In Sheffield, at least, the risks are well advertised—far in advance of any legislation to mandate it. With names like “Tinnitus”, and a website called “My Ears Are Bleeding” no-one is left in ignorance. Far from fighting shy of the worrying truth, the culture seems to revel in it.
In conclusion, I am left to assume that the club culture is actually for the hardcore [no pun intended] pessimists. It’s not just that their current life is so dull they need to drown out the audio: they want to make sure it is turned off permanently. Perhaps I should try not to lose sleep over it.