Experience: I went to the same nightclub for 1,000 nights

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W hen I was seven, there was something on television about a gay politician. My mum, with great vitriol, said: “That’s disgusting.” I thought, I had better not tell her about my views on the matter because she might reject me. I was too frightened.

I knew I was gay then, but I didn’t come out until I was 30. While I kept my sexuality a secret, music meant a lot to me: it had an allure that I felt certain men also had – but in both cases I couldn’t quite express it.

I made a new year resolution at the beginning of 1992 to come out to my mum that year. But I didn’t have the courage to do it until the New Year’s Eve just before 1993. That was a very exciting period of my life – making new friends, going to gay discos.

Then in 2002, I fell into a deep depression. I had worked hard all my life and tried to make smart investments, but the company I invested in went bankrupt. Overnight, I went from being well-off to comparatively penniless.

After about four years, in a state of misery and spending a lot of time alone, I started assisting older people with their technology problems for a bit of pocket money. This was more pleasant than I’d envisioned. It unlocked something in me. I remember thinking, I do still want to get something out of life.

After an afternoon spent helping someone with their computer, I decided to go to Soho in London. That’s how I discovered the G-A-Y nightclub. It was fantastic. I was very shy at the time, so waited until there were lots of people on the dancefloor and then, trepidatiously, I started dancing, too. It was an incredible feeling. So I went back again the next day, and danced again. Then the day after that.

I kept a diary, and realised I’d been to G-A-Y for 31 nights in a row. The club is open every day, so I thought: why not see how long I could carry on doing that? I reckoned 100 nights would be quite an achievement.

My dance style is unique. My favourite move is spinning on the spot, like a pirouette. It’s a nice sensation. I was once called Wonder Woman because I would spin so much.

I like to dance to Abba, Kylie Minogue and Madonna. A really good song gives me a surge of adrenaline and I can feel the endorphins kick in. I only drink tap water – I get a high from the music and dancing alone.

I’m happy now to be the only person on the dancefloor. Underneath, I’m still quite a shy, private person, but when I’m dancing, I become a character. It’s an alter ego and I put my all into it.

I clocked up 200 nights at the club – I even went on my mum’s birthday. It got to 300 nights, 400, 500. The only time I didn’t go was on Christmas Day, when G-A-Y is closed. Then, on what would have been my 998th night, the club closed because of Covid. I was devastated. I tried dancing at home, but it meant nothing without other people; the connection to others is what gave it meaning. So I found the early days of lockdown quite difficult.

G-A-Y reopened on 4 July 2020, with table service. I went and tried to dance, but was told off by security. I still count it as my 999th possible consecutive dance at G-A-Y, but I was desperate for more.

Last month, the clubs finally reopened again and I got to attend my 1,000th night at G-A-Y. As I approached the entrance, the security guard beamed at me, then one of the managers almost gave me a hug. As soon as I got in, I was right back into the swing of it – jumping and spinning as if nothing had changed.

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I’ve realised that if there is something you want to do, it’s very important to not just think about it or talk about it but to actually go and do it. Otherwise, you could be thinking about what you love for years, without actually trying it.

I still tend to go out six out of seven nights now – dancing is something I will never give up. It has transformed my life. I want to encourage people who are too shy or frightened or afraid to consider spinning on the dancefloor. You never know, you might enjoy it.

As told to Jody Thompson

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