Better off alone: Why it’s time to hit the club solo

From the mental health benefits to friend-making potential, here’s why raving on your own can be one of life’s most rewarding experiences

A group of people dancing in a dark room
A group of people dancing in a dark room

From the mental health benefits to friend-making potential, here’s why raving on your own can be one of life’s most rewarding experiences

By Jack Ramage15 Mar 2024
5 mins read time
5 mins read time

Years ago, during Freshers Week in Leeds, a conversation stuck with me. Amid the usual small talk you have between new acquaintances, we veered into music territory, particularly the city’s thriving club scene. Back then, I hadn't found anyone who shared my enthusiasm for electronic music, so I suggested I’d head out on my own. The response was blunt: “Who goes alone? That's just weird.” I’m sure it wasn’t with malicious intent – but as an impressionable and anxious teenager, it was a statement I just couldn’t shake.

For years, I avoided going to a club alone – until I turned 21, and learned to stop caring. My first outing solo was at Wharf Chambers, an inclusive and cobble-floored club; a small, DIY club-slash-pub type venue. Although it took a while to settle in, it wasn’t long before I was approached by an array of like-minded people, in the smoking area and on the dance floor. Although it may sound dramatic, it was a pivotal moment that altered the course of my life. Clubs might be seen by some as mere catalysts for intoxication and casual encounters, but any dance music fan will tell you they’re so much more than that. They act as third spaces, fostering communities through the power of music.

Fast forward to today, and much of my life revolves around going to clubs and festivals alone. As a music and culture journalist, it’s my job. And while it’s a vastly different experience to going out with friends, I’ve learnt to love the transient nature of solo raving – the freedom of your own company and the dissociation that comes with dancing in a dimly lit room full of strangers (don’t get me wrong, I’ve made lifelong friends from clubbing alone, too).

“Clubbing is the great cure from loneliness and burnout which are huge issues that we face today,” Disha Daswaney, lecturer in fashion psychology at the London College of Fashion tells woo. “It’s a way for us to make up for what we have missed out on [because of the pandemic] and can promote a healthy sense of community. In those moments of clubbing, we also have these intense dopamine releases, especially when we dance and connect with others.”

So why do some people choose to club alone? Ayu, 25, began clubbing solo after relocating to North London. “I didn’t have any friends there, so I’d wander around by myself at warehouse parties and such,” she explains. During this time, she also entered a period of sobriety that lasted around eight months. I found it challenging to be around friends who were drinking or using drugs,” she adds. “By going at it alone, it definitely takes away the urge to get obliterated because you’re raving on your own terms – no group, no logistics, no one else to worry about.”

She recalls feeling “very uncertain” about going out alone at first, particularly to places like small clubs and warehouse parties where “everyone knows everyone”, which often led to her “hovering around the room”. However, after some time, she began to embrace the experience. Ayu also emphasises the significance of going out for specific DJs and artists rather than just the act of clubbing itself. “If you’re alone and sober, you have to make sure it’s worth your while,” she adds, preferring “high-energy music” because “mid [music] just doesn’t quite cut it”.

“I can’t stress it enough – clubs and parties are crucial for me as a trans person. They’re some of the few places where I feel truly comfortable and safe”
Ayu, 25

“I’m a 6’5 trans woman, so I take precautions regarding what I wear. If I'm going to parties where I'm unsure of the crowd or area, I opt for big, baggy clothing that makes me look like an asexual tarpaulin and skip make-up altogether. However, I can’t stress it enough – clubs and parties are crucial for me as a trans person. They’re some of the few places where I feel truly comfortable and safe.”

Caitlin, 23, from Brighton, shares that their solo clubbing adventures began with a particular club night called Polyglamorous. “I remember really wanting to go but not having anyone to go with,” they recall. “So, I decided to channel my sparkly, naive freshers’ week self and often found myself adopted by very kind girl gangs.” Caitlin highlights the importance as a queer person of club spaces as places to connect with like-minded individuals without having to rely on dating apps. “If you're looking to make actual queer friends, gossiping with gay club regulars in the smoking area is a great way to go about it,” they suggest.

As an autistic person, Caitlin also finds a certain level of solitude in clubbing alone. "I genuinely go to the club to stim, and it sometimes annoys the people I go with, so solo clubbing is the best option for me," they share. "I'm usually there to look at shiny lights and twirl my hands about, and nobody looks at me any differently because they just assume I'm drunk. I'm often sensitive to sound, but for some reason, I can't stand the noise of an electric hand dryer, yet consistent bass thumps are perfectly fine for me.”

So what’s stopping so many people from hitting the dance floor alone? Well, the answer isn’t black and white. People may be reluctant to take the plunge into solo clubbing for a myriad of reasons – not to mention the negative stigma surrounding it, and the financial strain on club spaces due to the cost of living, which can also make it difficult to afford both entry and transportation home. And frankly, if it’s your first time, it can be pretty daunting, too. Read on below for our foolproof guide to taking your first steps onto the floor without worrying about feeling like a billy-no-mates.

So, you want to club alone but are unsure where to start, or how to prepare yourself? Obviously, I’m in a privileged position as a white, cisgender, and able-bodied man. My experience would undoubtedly be vastly different if my skin pigmentation or testosterone levels were different. However, as a general rule of thumb, here are a few things to keep in mind before taking the plunge.

Consider sobriety

It’s best to try to keep a level head when clubbing alone, so going sober is a good idea. While it might be tempting to rely on liquid courage before heading out, going trashed is likely to end badly. That doesn't mean you shouldn't refrain from a little bit of hedonism if you really want to, but make sure to take it easy and know your limits – this applies to alcohol, weed and other drugs, too.

Choose the right venue and music for you

Don’t fall into the trap of going to the first club night that comes your way. Ensure that you're attending for the music or, at the very least, the overall vibe. Do your research to ensure the event is safe for you as well – an illegal rave might not be the best option for a solo first-timer.

Ask yourself why you really want to club alone

This aspect requires some contemplation, but it's something that shouldn’t be overlooked. Ask yourself why you’re clubbing solo in the first place. Is it to make new friends, see a particular DJ set, or simply have fun without relying on anyone else? Whatever your reason, it’s valid – but understanding it will help shape the night you’re planning.

Plan, plan, plan

Planning can make your solo clubbing experience much more rewarding. Make sure you know how you’re getting to and from the club, and avoid public transportation if possible. It’s wise to have a plan B too and let people know where you are, for instance, if you’re unable to order an Uber or miss that last bus home.

Be aware of yourself and others around you

Be mindful of the space you’re in and others around you. While the majority of clubbers are friendly, it's important to acknowledge that there may be a few bad apples in the mix, regardless of where you are. Keeping a level head can ensure you’re clubbing safely. This goes the other way too, especially if you're a man – ensure that your space isn't causing discomfort to anyone else in the room.

Relax and have fun

This one goes without saying. You’re here for you: focus on the music, atmosphere, and your enjoyment of the night. Take breaks if needed to recharge, avoid sensory overload, and leave whenever you feel ready.