Response Crafting

On clubs and crowded trains

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Every so often, I like to go to clubs.
As in, the “dark lighting, drink in hand” variety.

This surprises some people who know me, as I have evidently been moderately successful at getting folks to see me as a professional, mature individual. But yes – sometimes – I like to go clubbing.

When I go, I’m often the girl in the group dressed like she just came from dinner with her folks, so I’m not there to solicit attention. I often drink soda water and lime, so I don’t go to get drunk. And I dance, usually, but not with anybody in particular.

(I have likely painted an image of being that super dud dancing alone in the corner holding her drink to her face and anxiously sucking her straw. I’m not. At least, I’d like to think I’m not. I go with girlfriends and we dance together.)

So why do I go clubbing? I go, I realized, because it’s one of the few places where you can be incredibly close with a lot of other people. That experience is, for me, is a deeply satisfying one. I feel comforted by closeness.

For me, there’s something extraordinarily psychologically soothing about physical proximity. I am deeply affected by “space,” particularly my own, and I find closeness to be tremendously sensual – that is, pertaining to the senses – more than sexual, even when the “space” at hand is a club. The gratification of crowded spaces holds true in almost any setting with almost any group of people, sexually appealing or not.

I love crowded restaurants. I love tiny apartments; I love roommates. I love busy sidewalks and farmers markets. I feel a sense of connection with fellow passengers on a plane. I love sleeping right against someone else, under a blanket so heavy that my companion inevitably becomes too hot.

I feel disappointed – almost anxious – when a space is too big or there aren’t as many people in it as I sense there should be. I hate king size beds and superfluous square footage. There are few things more depressing than empty city streets, and I find it disheartening to dine in an almost-empty restaurant.

When I shared this with my friend Chris over brunch one Sunday, observing that I felt the restaurant needed not only more diners, but more tables, he laughed. And then, curious as I explained my love of nearness, he asked,

“Do you intentionally choose the most crowded car on the train, too?”

“No,” I mused, “I don’t do that. But if I find myself on a crowded car, I secretly relish it.”

(Incidentally, I would rather take the train or the bus than drive myself. It’s for a number of reasons, but one of them is definitely this.)

For me, one of life’s most beautiful elements is experiences shared with others, and the implied intimacy. And the simpler and more sensual the experience, the more gratifying it is to me.

Understanding how our environments affect us, which we prefer and why, helps us as individuals in designing a day to day life that best builds upon known happiness. Understanding, as a company, how our environments affect the individual aids in developing awareness of how to best leverage them in user experience and design.

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