From The Straits Times    |

Life was one big boozy party for nightlife marketer Trina*, 25 – non-stop highs, and even one-night stands while she was supposed to be working. She tells writer Jeanne Tai why she’s done with “party sex”.

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Image: Getty Images

“I’ve worked in the nightlife industry for three years, doing publicity and marketing for the trendiest clubs in town. I’ve not only had my own experiences with “party sex”, but I’ve seen it happen with others as well.

I’ve watched women get plastered, with guys all over them. I’ve seen so-called “friends” letting their drunken girl pals leave the club with men they’ve only just met. I wouldn’t trust a strange guy to take my friend home. But what can you do? Crap happens.

Party World
I started clubbing as a student, and was smoking and drinking by 17. Because I partied so often, I met people in the industry who offered me a marketing job at a hot new club after I graduated from university. “Why not?”, I thought.

I entered a fun, energetic world. It could also get pretty crazy. For the past few years, my work routine has been the same: I plan marketing strategies from home in the day via e-mail, but am at the club three nights a week to entertain customers and make sure they’re taken care of. This means personally ushering them to their tables, supplying them with drinks, checking that they’re enjoying the party, and so on.

I’m at the club by 11pm and leave between 3am and 5am. If I’m hosting a guest DJ or act, I stay until he finishes his set and am always on hand to get him drinks, ensure his equipment is set up and that he’s comfortable. Almost all the DJs have tried to get into my pants.

They ply me with drinks, and sometimes put their arms around me and try to get me to go back with them. I always say no.

I never knew how much people could make you drink until I started work. I got high whenever I partied mwith friends, but at work, it was something else altogether.

I saw rich customers splurge on seemingly endless rounds of alcohol. Every night, I’d go around the club, stopping at all the tables to mingle with guests. And that’s when the wild partying would start. My customers would force me to drink so much, I was downing the equivalent of two bottles of champagne a night. It’s hard to say no – you have to keep people happy or they won’t come back and spend.

No one discouraged me from my heavy drinking. My co-workers all understood it was part of the job. It was common for my colleagues and even my bosses to also get drunk by the end of the night while “working”. I paid for it in the mornings with terrible hangovers. I’d crawl out of bed with a pounding head, groaning, “Why am I doing this?”

Birthday hook-up
My views about sex changed while on the job. I used to think that girls who got drunk and slept with men were cheap sluts who couldn’t control themselves. But after I got sucked into this world, I realised it was easier said than done.

There’s temptation, there’s alcohol, plus you see people hooking up every other night, so it almost seems “normal”. More than once, I’ve seen tipsy women let guys finger them in the middle of the club.

I had drunken sex twice within my first six months at work. Both hook-ups occurred on the job, while I was entertaining customers.

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Image: Getty Images

The first guy was a friend and colleague, Max*. It was my birthday, and I was drinking more than usual – I can’t remember how much. Basically, I was downing whatever was being offered to me.

The last thing I remember was thinking, “I need to go home now”. After that, my memory is an utter blank. The next thing I knew, it was morning. I opened my eyes and found myself lying in Max’s bed, right next to him. “Crap!” was my first thought.

What a birthday present.

I didn’t even remember how we ended up there or how the sex went, but it must have happened. Why else would I have been in bed with him?

He’d also been drunk and woke up horrified. “What the hell happened?” we asked each other. Things were awkward for the next few days. We still had to face each other at work, where I avoided talking to him too much. I didn’t want him to think I’d developed romantic feelings for him because I hadn’t. I wanted to draw a line.

A few days later, we both sat down and had a talk about what happened. We agreed that it would be nothing more than a one-night stand. In fact, we grew closer after the incident. Perhaps it’s because we’d been intimate, but more importantly, it helped that we were mature about the whole thing and didn’t end up overanalysing or obsessing over it.

I now consider him one of my best friends. We can talk about anything.

Pregnancy scare
My second brush with party sex turned out to be my last. It was with a former flame, Eric*. I’d met him years ago, while living abroad for a year. We’d dated for a while but it didn’t work out and we remained friends.

He worked as a DJ and, coincidentally, was invited to spin at the club I was working at. I was tasked to host him that night.

Just like the first time, I drank like a fish while working and mingling with customers, and ended up drunk. That, combined with whatever lingering feelings Eric and I had for each other, resulted in me spending the night at his place. I woke up the next morning with no memories of the previous night, and Eric lying next to me.

It was the same story with Max replayed, just that this time, it was less awkward as I’d had a thing going on with Eric previously. Plus, I didn’t have time to feel “awkward” or remorseful. He had a flight home to catch, so he quickly packed and we left.

I was more worried about getting pregnant. I wasn’t on the Pill and there were no signs that he’d used a condom. I was scared and spent the next month worrying about whether anything would happen.

I would check my calendar, counting down to the week when my period was roughly due. The day it finally came, I was so relieved. I’d been so freaked out.

After that scare, I decided to put a stop to my behaviour. Firstly, I didn’t want to drink to the point where I blacked out anymore. While no one had said anything, I felt it was getting bad for my image. Secondly, it was unprofessional as I had technically hooked up when I was at work on both nights. I couldn’t be sure of what I had drunk or how I had behaved, and I was worried about how my customers and colleagues would see me.

And finally, I definitely didn’t want to have drunken sex again. I was fortunate that both Max and Eric were friends. Till this day, I still feel that it’s an ugly sight to witness a girl getting so drunk she has no idea what she’s doing and gets taken advantage of by men – and I see it all the time at work. I always think: How would people look at you? I didn’t want to be in that position. As for Eric, we’re still great friends and Skype chat at least thrice a week.

But we’ve never talked about that night. It’s almost as if it never happened. And that’s how I want to keep it. I think that if you continue dwelling on the incident, you’ll feel awkward all over again and you’ll never get past it.

To me, what’s done is done. I want to move on.

Sober and smarter
After those two incidents, I made sure I’d never wind up having drunken sex again. I started drinking later in the night, so I could last longer. And if a guest offered me a drink, I’d take slow sips instead of gulping it down. If you finish your drink faster, people tend to top it up. I also constantly drank water to “recover” after each glass of alcohol. I also try not to mix my drinks, but it’s tough because my customers buy me diff erent sorts of alcohol. I’ll just sip a little so it won’t kick in so fast.

Thanks to all this, I’ve never passed out or had drunken sexual encounters again. These days, I get through the night on five glasses of alcohol, a big drop from when I started. Sure, I get high sometimes, but I’m always conscious. I know what I’m doing. If I’ve reached my limit, I’ll say, “sorry guys, gotta go” and head home. Controlling your alcohol intake is all in the mind. You shouldn’t give in to peer pressure.

I’m still in the party business. Despite how exhausting it is, I love my job and I love entertaining. Some people think women who work in nightlife are cheap and that we sleep around. But in fact, because we’ve seen so much, we know how to protect ourselves. I know my limits now and how not to get into trouble.

I did regret sleeping with Max and Eric initially, but now, I don’t because those incidents helped me realise that I never want to do it again.

My advice for women who’ve had party sex: don’t waste your time and energy on regret. It’s more important to learn from your mistakes.

Anyone can say that they regret having drunken sex, but then get plastered again at another party and repeat their mistake. They don’t learn.

If you really regret hooking up, make up your mind that you’re going to change something – for instance, watching the amount you drink when you’re partying. I do believe you have control.

Always be careful when you’re out having a good time. Watch your drinks, party with good friends and if you do hook up with someone, get protection.”

* Not their real names

This story was originally published in Her World December 2012.