Nearly every girl I’ve ever met has a story like mine.
One night this past February, my roommate and I decided to go out clubbing to celebrate the start of New York Fashion Week. While we normally stick to large groups, that night it was just the two of us. We didn’t plan on getting very drunk and to ensure that, we ate a giant pasta dinner beforehand.
Nursing our food babies, we headed to a bar we had been to dozens of times — we liked to pregame there because the drinks were cheap, and the bartenders were hot.
A couple of drinks in, our bartender started chatting us up. He kept pouring us free drinks, and we greedily lapped them up because, hey, a free gin and tonic in NYC isn’t something we take lightly. His shift was ending, he said, and when it did, he joined us around the bar and ordered us a round of shots from the next bartender.
The off-duty bartender then asked for the bartender on-duty to make us a “special,” which required him to hop behind the kitchen door to make it. The drink apparently had some special ingredients that they didn’t bring up to the bar yet. Okay, fine. We’ve been to this bar before countless times, and if we were getting a fancy-ass drink for free, we sure as sh*t weren’t going to say no.
That’s when things became fuzzy. My roommate and I remember only snippets of the night, but from what we both gathered, we made our way to a different bar after we both downed that drink. From what she tells me, I made out with the bartender, then went to the bathroom to throw up under the sink. I then passed out and had to be carried by the bouncer downstairs into the cab along with my roommate, who was puking at every landing.
I don’t know how we both made it home alive, but I still thank whatever higher power that we did. I even had to be carried out of the cab by a random guy on the street, which was the most f*cked-up-princess moment I’ve ever had in my entire life.
It wasn’t just two girls getting piss-drunk. We were sick — violently sick — for the next week. It wasn’t a hangover, it was a near-death experience. We were drugged.
As a woman, you’re told that you can do anything and be anyone and have no fear. Unfortunately, that’s not the reality. When you go out as a female, if you’re not extra-vigilant and taking extra precautions, you run the risk of becoming a target. No one likes to think about that, especially when you want to go out with your friends and drink your ass off. But this stuff happens — and you need to be prepared for it when it does.
This is what it really takes to go out as a woman:
Heels can be your own worst enemy.
Not only are they a pain the ass to walk in (especially after a long night) but they also compromise your safety. If you ever need to run from someone or something, doing it in your six-inch heels is not going to get you very far.
Every girl should have a pair of roll-up flats in her night-out clutch: They’re light, they’re affordable and they will save your poor feet. Wear your heels for photo ops with the girls and the portable flats for your commute to and from the club.
You have to ditch headphones.
Sure, listening to some Rihanna on your way to the bar may get you in the mood, but it will also keep you from hearing an incoming car — or someone else's feet behind you.
If you absolutely cannot fathom the thought of walking without your beloved Spotify going-out playlist, only put in one earbud and keep the volume low enough to hear any off-putting sounds.
Always look like you’re on a mission.
Many people say as long as you look like you know where you’re going and you're focused and aware of what’s around you, people will leave you alone.
While that’s not always the case, this notion can be a great deterrent. If you look like you can totally hear the guy behind you getting a tad too close, he knows he lost his greatest weapon: the element of surprise.
Have good posture, walk with your feet planted firmly to the ground and look straight ahead. Your friends will forgive you if you take an extra few minutes to “like” their photo.
Scope out places you can hide if you feel unsafe.
When I was apartment hunting, an important factor for me was that there were places open late between my building and the train, so in case I ever felt I had an unfriendly shadow, I could pop in.
When I told my guy friends about this, however, they weren't very understanding. “Who’s going to follow you?” and “Just run to your apartment and you’ll be fine,” were the most common sentiments.
What men take for granted or just aren’t conditioned to understand is that these things happen no matter what neighborhood or city you live in. I lived in one of the safest neighborhoods in New York with a constant police presence, and I was still followed into my building by a drunk, potentially violent man.
Always double-check license plates before hopping into an Uber.
How many stories have you heard of cabbies posed as Uber drivers assaulting, kidnapping or raping unsuspecting drunk women? Uber drivers have his or her license plate listed on the app when you log in, so cross-referencing the two will help.
Don’t look for the sign on the door — anyone can print an Uber logo on a sheet of paper.
Make sure you leave home with your phone fully-charged — and bring a backup battery just in case.
Important for Instagramming your night, yes, but also important to save some battery for your ride home so you can text your friends that you're home (or call 911 if needed).
There’s safety in numbers.
It’s an age-old saying, but so true.
A potential attacker is far less likely to attack a large group of girls than one drunk girl. Go out with as many people as you can. There’s bound to be someone less drunk than you that can help you should you need it, and you can also commute together for safety.
If a situation feels sketchy to you, it probably is.
If you ever feel uncomfortable at a bar, club or party, grab your friends and bounce. If you don’t want to ruin your friends' good times, then know your limits and immediately hop into a cab.
Hold on to that drink like you would your phone while waiting for a cute guy to text you.
Everyone tells you to never let your eyes leave your drink if you’re sitting at a bar. Take it one step further and actually hold your drink. It’ll be harder for someone to drop anything in it and will deter any potential trouble.
If you have to head to the bathroom, don’t leave your drink at the bar and come back for it (even if the bar is empty or if you asked the bartender to keep an eye on it). If you must, ask your friend to hold it, but your best bet is to just leave it and order another.
Never accept a stranger’s drink.
Sure, it’s super flattering when that cute guy buys you a gin and tonic “because this place makes them the best” but unless you saw the bartender physically make your drink, politely decline. If your parent told you accepting candy from strangers is bad, accepting drinks is infinitely worse.
Buy your own damn drinks, or get friends to buy rounds. If you want to break the ice with that guy, actually talk to him.