WARNING: I’m opening up a big ol’ can o’ worms here. It’s entirely possible that some of you who see this may be annoyed, upset, or personally offended by what I have to say. This rant isn’t specifically aimed at any of you personally — but I can’t claim that it’s not aimed at many of you in the aggregate. For that, you have my apologies in advance.

The last two times I’ve gone out clubbing, I’ve split my time between Vogue Night and The Mercury, as I like both clubs and have friends at both places that I like to see when I make it out of the house. I’ve bounced around on the dance floors, had fun seeing and flirting with friends, and generally had a good ol’ time.

I’ve then spent the next week or so feeling like crap, coughing up crap, and generally regretting immersing myself in secondhand smoke for two hours.

At this point, I have to face the fact that I just can’t do it anymore.

There’s a number of people I know who are definitely Merc people that I’m probably not going to see very often anymore (though, admittedly, I’m not the social butterfly that I once was, so technically there’s a lot of people I don’t see very often anymore…but there’s this subset that I’ll be seeing even less). That’s a bummer, ‘cause I like a lot of you, and as my current school and personal life schedules don’t leave me much time for socialization, my (roughly) monthly club nights are my best chance to see people.

What’s more frustrating, though, is that the Merc knows that there are people out there like me, who’d like to come to the Merc more often (or at all), but can’t handle the smoke. They’ve tried to support us in the past, with special non-smoking event nights, and for a while they even tried monthly smoke-free Saturdays. The result? No support (or, at least, not enough support to make it fiscally feasible). Apparently, the smokers are so wedded to the concept of being able to smoke indoors that, when faced with a non-smoking night, they won’t go rather than take smoke breaks outside, as they do in virtually every other public situation they go to. So, the Merc does what it has to do, and sticks with the formula that brings in the most business, so that they can stay afloat.

It’s disappointing to me that enough of the Merc’s supporters have made it clear that they will only support the Merc as long as they can smoke that the Merc cannot realistically hold smoke-free nights on a regular basis. I have to admit to a certain amount of curiosity about what that segment of the Merc’s regulars do on those non-smoking nights. Do they simply sit at home, puffing merrily away? Or are they so hypocritical as to go somewhere else entirely, at which point they have to do the same thing as they would be doing had they gone to the Merc that night: going outside for their smoke breaks? At that point, they’re merely withholding their business from the Merc out of petty spite, and that’s just sad, especially if they love and want to support the Merc as much as they might claim on any other night.

(I have a vague belief that the Thursday(?) night Lucifer’s Lounge is smoke-free until midnight, and from what I understand, it gets decent attendance. However, I’m not in the small subset of people that have the ability to go out clubbing on a weeknight. So, while I thoroughly support this, it’s not something that I can take advantage of.)

Understand, I’m not angry at or disappointed in the Merc in any way. They’ve managed to find a very useful loophole and set of circumstances that allows them to cater to a segment of the population that no other club can do, and that’s something I support. I enjoy the Merc, its clientele, its music, its employees, and even its figurative atmosphere — it’s only the literal atmosphere that causes issues for me.

As a former smoker, I never wanted to be one of “those” self-righteous ex-smokers. However, sometimes, even the most high-minded of us can give into temptation…and after having this rant bounce around in my head for the past week, it was time for me to give in.