Club Plus Life, the first size acceptance nightclub in Reno — and awesomely, that’s just how they describe it — opened last week. Co-founders Anthony Piersanti and Jean Olson met at a plus-size club in California and were bummed to find that Reno didn’t have one when they moved there. So they started one. Kickass.
And she means everyone. Although the club was created with plus-sized customers in mind, Piersanti himself isn’t overweight and loves hanging out with the mixed crowds. He said he prefers larger women.
“We call it a size-acceptance club,” Piersanti said. “We cater to the plus size, but we wouldn’t turn away somebody who is thinner. Last Friday we had all shapes and sizes. Everybody could feel free to be themselves.”
I LOVE that. At first, I was leery of the concept because — as much as I totally appreciate the need for safe spaces — I hate the idea of fat people sequestering ourselves. The fact that it’s uncomfortable to go to a plain old club — and it definitely can be uncomfortable, even for smaller fatties (and hell, that’s if they let you in the door) — shouldn’t be our problem to fix, you know? And the solution really shouldn’t have to be hiding ourselves away, so those people who made us uncomfortable get exactly what they want: they never have to see fat bodies dancing. They can continue to pretend that fat people don’t exist, or that we all spend our Friday nights at home alone, or that we’d never want to dance in the first place, because it’s too much like exercise. Fuck that.
But of course, all that’s the idealism talking. Realistically, the assholes out there can suck the fun out of anything, especially something that involves moving your fat body in public. So a hassle-free place for fatties who love to dance is indeed a breath of fresh air, even if it’s simultaneously problematic.
What I like about the sound of Club Plus Life is that they’re not just creating a fatty safe space, they’re creating a real alternative to clubs that are all about getting conventionally hot babes in the door so that not-so-bright men will follow them in and spend a ton of money trying to impress them. I hated those clubs when I was thin, too, but I always loved dancing, and there was nowhere else to do that. (There was one ancient beer hall and one vaguely Mexican restaurant that both had DJs and much lower-maintenance crowds, so we’d go there sometimes, but the trade-offs were having to step around pools of barf on your way to the bathroom and going home smelling like burritos, respectively.)
As I always suspected, and confirmed when people sent photos for the BMI project, many of the people who read this site aren’t fat. And many more aren’t very fat. Body image bullshit affects everyone, and there are a whole lot of people out there of all sizes who just want to be able to enjoy the lives and bodies they’ve got, without constantly feeling guilty and ashamed because they don’t measure up to an absurdly narrow beauty standard. Not to mention people who do more-or-less measure up but recognize that standard for the horseshit it is anyway.
All of those people need an alternative to traditional clubs, where that absurd standard is not only reinforced but celebrated. Fatty-only dances are swell, and arguably necessary, but I really prefer the idea of a broadly inclusive People Who Don’t Suck club, where the only requirement for getting past the velvet rope is that you not be a judgmental dickwad. A club where people go because they just like to dance and drink and hang out with their friends — and if you hook up, great, but that’s totally not the point. Where is that club?
It sounds like Club Plus Life is trying to be that club, sort of, and yay for that. If I ever get to Reno, it’ll surely be my first stop.
What do you think about all this, Shapelings? Are fatty clubs a good thing, or do they amount to us voluntarily marginalizing ourselves? Do you think a size acceptance club open to everyone will really be just that, or is it likely to be a de facto fatty-only club? Have you been to plus-size clubs or dances? Do you go to regular clubs and hold your double chin high? Tell me everything.