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︎ Short Read: A Clubbing Experience


by Tosh van Kampen, May 19 2020


photo by De School

During the summer, two years ago, someone smiled at me. It wasn’t the kind of smile you get from people you half-know. It was a genuine smile of appreciation, followed by an absence of vocal introduction. This small encounter would normally be forgotten as a small detail in a long day of dancing and socializing with friends and potential friends. However, in the following months the smiling stranger would keep giving me this honest sign of appreciation. A small gesture, that I know, but powerful nonetheless.
After a dozen close encounters with the smiling stranger I turned to some of my friends to ask them if they were lucky enough to be gifted an ‘I see you and value your presence here’ by them. To my surprise all of them didn’t have any idea what i was talking about, except for one of my dearest friends. We would talk shortly about the nameless individual, while keeping in mind not to let our imaginations fill in the blanks because our words would always be inferior to the mysterious, magic concept of the smiling stranger.

One day I found myself in the corner of the club’s garden talking to someone previously unknown to me, when I saw the aforementioned smiler walk up to us. I ceased conversation to prepare myself for their words, how disarming they would be.

In a soft, but perfectly clear voice, full of warmth and calmth they said: “Ever since the first day I saw you, I admired your presence here and I want to thank you for being here time and time again. You make this space a better place.” Naturally, I was at a loss for words and stuck with the thought of my words not even coming close to the power of theirs. I explained and expressed my genuine appreciation but before I could get to know them, they walked off slowly and smiling.
The following year, I kept smiling back. I knew they acknowledged how valued and good they made me feel. The same friend I spoke to about the stranger mentioned a similar experience and I was so happy to see the smiling individual turning into a recurring part of my clubbing experience.

The last time I was able to see the stranger, I was with my friend. We saw them walking over to us, with the usual generous smile and they gave something to us. Something I still keep in my wallet to this day. It was a card that I still read sometimes and it always makes me want to be more loving to the people around me.


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