For those of you who are not local, The Loop is (now) a Minnesota chain bar with locations in St. Louis Park, Rochester and Minneapolis. The bar borrows its name from the North Loop neighborhood where its origin story takes place. By day, you’ll find comfy booths, good food, passable drinks, and, if it’s a weekend before or after college football season, awesome breakfast. By night, it turns into a dance club not fit for anyone over the age of 27 and even then, you shall have no fewer than four shots in your system.
I used to love The Loop. Despite living 90 minutes away at the time, I celebrated my 25th birthday with some of my dearest friends at The Loop. (I would now like to take this time to apologize to the aforementioned nearest and dearest.) Despite the tiny makeshift dance floor, this spot was the perfect place to placate my constant refrains of “I just wanna DANNNNNCE!” It’s just outside of the main downtown area, so the drink line was manageable and these giant booths accommodated larger parties that included people who weren’t as obsessed with shaking it as the hostess.
Now, the area has been pretty well overrun by rich kids whose parents pay all or some of their rent because heaven forbid princess should have to live more than four blocks from a Whole Foods. As a consequence, the lines have gotten longer and the drinks pricier. The biggest mark against The Loop now, however, is the fact that I have gotten older.
A realization never more clear than it was on Saturday night when, against my better judgement, I left my baby quilt (gift for a friend, don’t get excited, mom) unfinished to join a late 20s/early 20s pair at The Loop. From the moment I walked in, I became acutely aware of the fact that I did not belong. Sure, the playlist hadn’t changed in approximately 8 years—ALL THE SINGLE LADIIIIEIS—but, it wasn’t the same. I watched who I used to be booty popping across the dance floor while leering men struggled to keep the rhythm as lithe recent graduates slithered around in near them.
I was immediately bored and unhappy with my choices, but only those I made that evening. Every choice leading up to that moment was beautifully validated because I now lived in a world where this was an occasional experience. One I didn’t have to go out and replicate every weekend. Now, I’m not being judgey. (Maybe I am. Just a little.) I LOVED this type of night when I was in my early 20s. Perfecting eyeliner next to my best friend because what’s the fun in getting ready at your own house. The anticipation of the night ahead was invigorating. The night was filled with possibility and undeniable potential for massive fun.
Some nights lived up to the hype. We’d dance, flirt, maybe exchange numbers with strangers before crawling into a cab to cash on a couch or floor belonging to whoever was hosting that night.
Even the next morning was an exercise in building friendship bonds. We’d recap the previous events as we dozily downed cheap pizza and watched trash T.V. (My embarrassing loyalty to the Real Housewives franchise can be directly attributed to that time in my life.) As we began to recover, we’d contemplate the idea of going out for another round. Sometimes we’d pass, but most we’d lather rinse repeat until the anticipation became something more akin to desperation. And the mornings broke into lonely affairs because I just wanted to wake up in my own bed, but then I was waking up to my own regret. Regret that couldn’t be drown out by the cheerful chatter of my friends.
Again, I’m not trying to play some odd superior card earned by someone in her third decade. I think it’s just a natural course of events as we grown and mature. A Self preservation thing of sorts. I have an unfinished short story about this precipice. It centers around a young girl waking up piecing together the events of the night before heartbroken because she had gone yet another night without finding the one. Instead she had made out with (and yes only made out with I was what some may call a prudish young thing) the wrong one. Again.
It’s looking back on those memories that makes me happy I am where I am today. Damn I sound smug. I’m not trying to be. I swear. I think each of these phases is something we or at least I needed to get through. Burn off all that wild child energy so I can be content being the boring married person who stays home watching scary movies on Halloween and doesn’t get depressed about it in the least.
An episode of You’re the Worst touched on this in a way recently. The heroine was relieved to find a couple who had spent much of their youth making what some would call regrettable decisions only to find themselves settled into marriage and parenthood, but completely content with where their path had led. Because, as the wife put it, sacrificing something that makes you happy because it makes you a sell out is just as ridiculous as selling out once was.
Now, in the show the epiphany came crashing down because the husband is a douchebag man child who wasn’t nearly as thrilled with what his life had become as his wife was. But, I choose to represent the other side of that equation. My night at The Loop made me grateful for those experiences, yes, but mostly for the fact that I have escaped that phase of my life no worse for the wear.