It’s Saturday night and I’m on the dancefloor of one of the South Coast’s most on-point clubs. As the DJ drops a particularly tasty disco number, I reach into my pocket, grab my phone and hit the Shazam button. As the circular logo spins around, desperately trying to identify the track with very little 3G signal, a bright light shines in my face. A big, burly bouncer points a torch in my direction and grunts “no phones on the dancefloor please,” before directing my attention to a sign on the wall that reads “This is a no phone/no photo event. If you’re caught using your phone you will be asked to leave.”
For some time now the smartphone has been the ultimate drain on people’s attention. Everyone knows that feeling, when you’re trying to tell your girlfriend/boyfriend/mum/stranger at the bus stop about your weekend or day at work and their complete lack of interest is signalled by them reaching into their pocket, grabbing their phone and beginning to scroll with their thumb as they vacantly stare at the glowing screen, rather than you, the fellow human being standing directly in front of them. And don’t get me started on the use of mobile phones in the cinema. The white-hot anger it elicits in me would be considered as something of an overreaction by the Incredible Hulk. But is completely banning mobile phones in clubs really the answer?
Plenty of people seem to think so. Venues like Berghain and Trouw (RIP) have long-standing bans on phone photography, as much fuelled by the fact that a lot of the things you get up to in the club might not be suitable for Instagram posts as by a wish to protect the clubbing experience, while DJs including Jackmaster have complained via Twitter about having phone camera flashes going off in their face while they’re DJing.