Awkward Situations For Girls: Tatler Lesbian Ball (and friendship)
Last week I was thrilled to be invited to an all-girl party hosted by Kate Reardon, Editor of Tatler. The party - unofficially nicknamed the Tatler Lesbian Ball - was in honour of ‘normalising lesbians in society’. Despite my secret pondering whether celebrating lesbians is the same as ‘normalising’, I headed with great excitement to the ball with my best friend Katy, wearing a borrowed frock and those bizarre cat boots of almost-telly fame.
The night took some interesting turns.
As we arrived at Quintessential HQ - Katy smoothing down my fringe, me declining breadsticks for Katy (she’s wheat intolerant) - somebody commented we were “a cute couple”. Oh, yikes. Katy’s more part of my own brain than my other half; as well as both being straight, we have the sort of friendship that completes the other. I ring her when I’m irrational; she texts me when she’s raging. We once stayed up all night crying with laughter impersonating Eminem watching Sliding Doors. (It’s where he first heard the Dido song he sampled! Come on, that’s funny, because it’s so unlikely!) It’s strange, because we only met a couple of years ago, and friendship like this is usually founded in childhood. As someone once said to Katy: “Aww! You’ve found your Nick Frost.” (That anecdote probably makes more sense considering it was Simon Pegg who said it.) So, despite being horribly intimate - “she doesn’t like sorbet, it gives her wind” - my comedy sidekick and I are just friends, but that night we began to wonder if our closeness wasn’t perhaps the very reason we’d been invited to such a bash.
No matter. We did what anyone in our situation would do: stuffed our faces with canapes, talked to some fantastic women, and joined the hair-raising getting down on the dancefloor. Imagine for a moment that you went to a girl’s boarding school, and that every person had grown up to be fabulous - say, like every woman you follow on Twitter, rather than the people you actually went to school with. You are now at a school reunion around fifteen, twenty years on; you have a DJ playing the holy pop trinity - Madonna, Rihanna, Beyonce (I’ve exiled Gaga after that shonky second album debacle) - and when Whitney’s I Want To Dance With Somebody comes on, everyone throws down their clutch bag/cocktail and runs to the dancefloor. The DJ does the respectful thing and turns down the volume, letting us caterwaul the chorus.
In between the staccato “don’t you wanna dance - say you wanna dance - don’t you wanna dance-oh-oh-oh” interjections, I can’t help but think JESUS CHRIST THE ATMOSPHERE HERE IS BLOODY BRILLIANT. Why isn’t it like this every time I go out? Why don’t I feel this total lack of self-consciousness more often?
And, in the cab on the way home, my brain softened by fizz cocktails, I start to realise why. I think it may be because, when men are around, women become a little bit competitive. We want to be attractive - if not the most attractive - and we look women up and down and decide their shoes make them look better than us. Hell, we probably think that makes them better than us. We get jealous of others’ ability to do straight and equal flicky eyeliner therefore avoiding a resemblance to Keith Richards in the afterlife. We pout a bit on the dancefloor because we want to look all sexy to men and like we can procreate with our good, swaying, childbearing hips. (That’s science! It’s probably true.)
I’m not saying that gay women can’t also do bitchy oneupmanship or give an eyeball once-over that leaves you feeling like a mud puddle of nothingness. We’re all human, after all, and all longing to be extraordinary. But certainly that night, I felt for the first time in a long time completely at one with a group of women, absolutely regardless of sexuality. And that - to me - is worthy of celebration.
Here’s a video by Daisy Jenks. Myself and Katy make a couple of appearances… Sorry in advance for some poor, poor miming. (And dancing.)