Irish dancing, DJ Phil, and My Left Foot: a cautionary tale.

This is what my foot looked like after a failed attempt at an Irish jig over the St. Patrick’s weekend.

footAnd this is what it looks like a week later.

dying foot

I expect it will fall off any day now.

Of course, once again I made the mistake of numbing the agony with a lot of vodka, which works wonders at the time but also leads you to think that the injury isn’t all that bad and therefore you can walk on it as normal. Cue an awful lot of pain the next morning when you wake up and realise that there is absolutely no way you should have been standing on it, let alone dancing around the bar at 3am.

Yes, it’s great being a sensible grown-up!

As I lay bedridden and helpless, unable to walk, and occasionally crawling (literally crawling) to the freezer for more ice to put on my multicolored skin, I was reminded of the first time I sprained my ankle. It was about 10 years ago, and yet the circumstances are so similar that you’d be forgiven for thinking my life hasn’t changed at all since then. Both incidents involved a bar, vodka, and me merrily trying to do something that was obviously rather stupid.

When I was at uni in Glasgow, I frequented a Student Union pub called The Barony Bar. On Fridays, immediately after lectures, we would all head there for TFI Friday – an event that can only be described as organised chaos fueled by cheap booze. The shenanigans were hosted by one DJ Phil, a stocky, cocky English guy who kept the crowd entertained with a pub quiz, cheesy music, and games. It was a very popular event, not least because of the infamous “Happy Half Hours”. For 30 minutes each Friday, pints of beer were 50p each. (Americans, I think that’s about 80 cents.) Yep. Then, for the next 30 minutes, vodka-mix drinks were 50p each. Yep.

It didn’t matter which one of these was your beverage of choice; when the first announcement was made, every single person went to the bar for their 4-beers-per-person allowance. Half an hour later, every table was groaning under the weight of hundreds of 50p beers, at which point the second announcement was made and everyone went back to the bar for their 4-vodkas-per-person allowance. I really wish I’d had a phone with a camera back in those days, because I sound like I’m exaggerating when I say that every available surface, including the floor, was covered in plastic cups of vodka and beer. It was quite a sight.

By the time all the beer and vodka had been imbibed, DJ Phil’s antics had generally reached utterly ludicrous levels of stupidity which obviously seemed completely hilarious to the crowd of drunk 20-year-olds drinking 50p alcohol. He would issue impossible, embarrassing, and/or mildly dangerous challenges with the promise of – oh, yes! – free booze for anyone who was successful. One particularly stupid day, the challenge seemed to involve (from what I could hear over the roar of the crowd) DJ Phil placing one end of a long piece of toilet paper between an unfortunate volunteer’s buttocks, giving him a pint of beer, lighting the other end of the toilet paper on fire, and shouting “DRINK!”. The idea was that if he could finish the beer before the flames reached his bare backside, DJ Phil would put out the fire and the guy would win, oh, I dunno, more beer. If not… maybe they let him burn to death, who knows?

My parents thought I was off at university, like, learning and stuff.

So the crowd was going insane, there was cheering and shouting and clapping, DJ Phil was narrating the whole ridiculous experience into the microphone, and my friends and I were stuck at the back of the bar, unable to see over the hundreds of excited, jumping, drunk people. It was at this point that I decided, in my infinite wisdom, to climb up on to a rickety wooden bar stool in order to try to catch a glimpse of whatever the hell was going on on the stage. Alas! I still couldn’t get a clear view, and I turned sadly to report this to my waiting friends. My memory of exactly what happened as I stepped off the stool is somewhat muddled, but I most certainly did not land on my feet as intended.

I picked myself up in the way that one does after an embarrassing public fall, laughing it off and insisting that I was fine, totally fine, perfectly fine, hahaha. It was only after about 15 minutes of excruciating pain, when someone pointed out that my face had turned ghostly white, that I confessed in a whimpering voice that perhaps I wasn’t really all that fine after all, and promptly burst into tears. I ended up sitting outside on the stairs, having my swollen ankle bound and strapped by a member of the student volunteer medical team, before limping back into the bar to find that my concerned friends had helpfully clubbed together to purchase a line of shots and vodka for medicinal purposes. By the end of the night I was dancing without a care in the world to the music of a really bad Elvis impersonator.

I couldn’t walk for a week after that.

I used to tell that story in a nostalgic “when I was young and foolish” kind of way, but given the current condition of my foot, I think it’s probably time to accept that this is just the way I am…

4 thoughts on “Irish dancing, DJ Phil, and My Left Foot: a cautionary tale.

  1. “Oganised chaos fueled by cheap booze” – that’s a perfect description of all student nights. I think! Our Friday night at the union was called “Pounded”, becasue all drinks were a pound. And one of our DJs was called Phil as well!

    • … and apparantly the memory of alcohol-fueld nights at the union causes me to lose the ability to spell. I meant “organised” and “because”, obviously. And the full stop after nights should have been a comma. Oh dear…

  2. Hope your leg feels better soon. I also was a student in Glasgow and spend most of my time in Curlers in Byres Rd (the bar not the hair doo dahs) or Bennetts, Ah those were the days

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