The Psychology Behind why we Enjoy Clubbing

by Violet Koh

In the heady days before Zouk shifted to Clarke Quay and the passing of the Liquor Control Act (2015), it seemed that clubgoers had done it all – from chugging terribly mixed whiskey at the bridge behind Zouk to frantically looking for restrooms in Grand Copthorne Waterfront. For every teen, going to Zouk was almost like a rite of passage into Singapore’s nightlife.

But this article is not just about Zouk. This is about why despite vomiting our guts out, cab fares burning a hole in our pockets and waking up with terrible hangovers, we did it again the next week (and the week after that).

The following is based on the TEDx talk by Yale Fox, a nightclub psychologist and sociologist.

Yes, they sell entrance and overpriced alcohol. But what nightclubs are really selling is sex and social status.

In Singapore, the gender ratio of males to females in nightclubs are generally dominated by men, perhaps except for Ladies Night – a marketing tactic to increase business by enticing more men to patron the club, or “selling sex”, as we might call it.

When your friends from school and NS buddies are all going, you don’t want to be left out, missing out shared memories and decrease your chance of being part of the ‘in’ crowd. Also, posting an Instagram picture that you’re at Zouk ups your social game.

The effects of alcohol.

We all have that one friend. You know, the one that is usually soft-spoken but unleashes his/her true form after a few drinks. This effect of alcohol is known as disinhibition, where they disregard social conventions, hence becoming more outgoing and louder.

So what biology is saying is you are actually behaving more honestly under the effects of alcohol. Furthermore, booze also affects the way your memories are being encoded and how you remember things. This might play a part in explaining why we look at people we drank and clubbed with emotional attachment.

The Rock Star Effect.

What is the Rock Star Effect? The release of oxytocin during singing, which is intensified in a group setting. What is oxytocin? A hormone that produces feelings of trust, love and even morality in humans.

In simple terms, we experience the Rock Star Effect when we sing along to whatever the DJ puts on, hence we remember the night with emotional attachment. Perhaps this is why people get excited when “their song” comes on, the gasps and screams of elation says it all.


Some go to look for chiobus, some find it an excuse to dress to impress, while some simply go to be around people and watch how human interactions happen. Ultimately, it’s about the people and the atmosphere.