My Personal Nightlife Purpose [Foto]

Growing up, I was taught that it’s necessary to have a purpose in every action I take.

I played soccer for the first 17 years of my life, and especially in the early ages, I didn’t do much to separate soccer from real life. Soccer was how I learned about life, and soccer taught me there always had to be a purpose behind my actions.

My club coach in elementary school would let us scrimmage, but randomly blow the whistle to stop the game. Whoever had just made a play or run, he would single out. “Why did you do that? What was your purpose?” 

He wasn’t looking for an answer like, “Because she was open” or “because there was space.” He wanted the entire play-by-play. “I passed to Sara because Jenna was streaking up the sideline. Sara has a better pass to Sara than I did. Then I was going to break through the middle with Maddie, Sara would cross the ball, and that’s the goal.”

He taught us purpose and strategy in soccer at a young age, and since soccer was my life, I learned about purpose and strategy in life. Something that I still think about today when I made decisions is, “How will my purpose from this allow me to score a goal?”

Most recently this kind of thinking has been utilized in a way third-grade Calihan never dreamt of – nightclubs. Imagine a seven-year-old on a club soccer team equipped with a nutritionist dreaming about getting drunk in a club in Spain, it just doesn’t happen.

I still have a lot of that seven-year-old energy in my body though, which is why nightclubs were hard for me to enjoy. With school and frolicking around Europe though, they were some of the only times I got to spend with friends. So I wanted to enjoy them, but I just couldn’t.

The purpose of clubs is to go and have fun, and the way to have fun is to get drunk and do things that you regret in the morning. It’s hard for me to believe that this purpose is anywhere in my strategy to get a goal. I don’t like getting drunk because I don’t like losing control, and I like doing things that I regret even less. Most alcohol comes with soda, which I stopped drinking as soon as our nutritionist told us to. I didn’t like staying out late because it meant sleeping in late, something that will mess up your natural circadian rhythms.

While it seems as though this represents an overall disdain for clubbing and nightlife, a part of me was intrigued. As if I knew clubbing could turn into something else. Although I did not enjoy the activity too much because I could not get behind the purpose, I felt as though somewhere deep in a Madrid club, was a means to my goal.

– – –

I was on a program excursion to Toledo, and I was surrounded by some people that I have grown to not like. Maybe it had only been three weeks of knowing them, but sometimes that’s all you need. Knowing that one girl was about to hand me her phone to take a picture of her, I quickly made myself look busy. I put my camera up to my eye and ferociously captured the landscape of Toledo. When the camera was in use, they didn’t talk to me. They didn’t ask me to be in their picture. They didn’t ask me if they could borrow my cute shorts sometime. They just stood around me doing their thing, while I did mine.

If only I could utilize my camera like this in the club, I thought to myself. 

When you have a camera, everyone thinks you have a purpose. When I first got to university, I didn’t know anybody, but I was a newspaper photographer and had a press pass to wear around my neck. When there were big university events that I wanted to experience but didn’t have friends to go with, I would go with my camera. With my camera around my neck and the press pass attached to my shirt, nobody thought anything of me being alone, it was simply implied that I had a purpose.

Why can’t I utilize my camera like this in the club?

There had to be rules against bringing a big camera into clubs, but there’s nothing they would be able to do about a small Exilim camera. The type of camera that gives off the vibes of, “I’m just a drunk girl who wants to document her night in an aesthetic way!” but, when used right, takes professional-level pictures.

So the very next night when the apartment was buzzing in anticipation of going out in Madrid, this time I was contributing to the chatter.

In previous nights, I had felt like an outsider to the group. Not wanting to get as drunk, not wanting to dance with strangers, it was obvious I was still sitting on the side with my feet in the water while everyone else had cannonballed in. Occasionally when the song would change and there was that half second of quiet before everyone caught onto the next one, I would stand still and wonder what I was doing there. I would assume that this environment in general was just not made for me like it was made for everyone else.

As soon as I brought my camera in, my entire perspective switched. The scenarios which previously made me feel like an outsider are now seen as the perfect picture opportunity. My friends and people we meet will perform for the camera because everyone wants their night out in Madrid documented, and by the time it’s the next morning and they realize how drunk they look, it’s too late. I already have the raw and authentic pictures of people in their purest, most excitable state downloaded onto my computer.

Instead of the purpose of nightclubs being, “go and have fun by getting drunk and do things that you will regret in the morning”, it switched to “capture the moment and the aesthetic.” Because although at first glance clubs are gross and sticky and germy, there is an immaculate underlying aesthetic to them that oftentimes goes undocumented.

Being with my camera in the club, when I might feel isolated for not being as drunk or not wanting to dance with strangers, reminded me of that Justin Bieber and Ed Sheeran song that was religiously played on a radio a few years back, “I Don’t Care”.

Even when I’m at a party I don’t necessarily want to be with, when nobody wants to look you in your eyes, even if it’s a bad night… I’m okay because I’m with my camera.

Yours truly,



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