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What Katie did next: In which I mingle with the living dolls...

HAVE you ever had a preconceived notion about an establishment in Dublin – be it a restaurant, bar, or club – before you've even stepped foot on the premises?

Indeed, you decide that you will never step foot on the premises, whether because you heard they serve their drinks in dinky little jam jars or because they charge €8 for a bottle of water.

'Not. My. Scene,' you think, before deciding to stage a one-man boycott. You have integrity and honour, godammit, and you will never, ever darken the doors of this den of iniquity.

That is until you go out with your work friends, get hammered and find yourself not just darkening the doorway but in the middle of the dancefloor, rum and pineapple juice spilling down your front.

And as the rhythm pulsates through your body and the alcohol courses through your veins and some young one is singing about giving you her number and calling her maybe, you're forced to concede that it's not such a bad spot after all.

Well, that's pretty much the complete opposite to what happened to me on a recent night out.



After years of harbouring what I understood to be an irrational hatred of 'VIP' nightclubs – venues that don't so much have a red velvet rope as an entire series of echelons – I was, against all my better judgment, witness to the goings-on inside one.

And it was worse than I could ever have imagined. Much worse.

This place was defiantly, unashamedly, obnoxiously elitist. I felt like I was on the Titanic, or in Upstairs, Downstairs. It was the proletariat versus the bourgeoisie, one coloured wristband against the other.

I was a VIP that night . . . along with a fella who was in an episode of Fade Street, an Olly Murs lookalike and a 'model' I once saw handing out flyers for a drain cleaning company.

God help us all . . .

It's not so much the clubs per se that I have a problem with, rather it's the type of people who frequent them. The regulars. The people who "literally live there", as they might say themselves.

Something happened to them during the evolutionary process. It just . . . stopped.

They bolster their identities by their ability to get past a velvet rope or their capacity to buy the most expensive bottle of champagne (sadder still when you consider that they may have to scrimp mid-week as a result).

There is an unashamed pecking order on this peacock walk and, from what I could see, the men with the biggest wallets and the women with the tightest dresses are at the top of it.

These women are what writer Natasha Walter calls 'Living Dolls'. Every feature has been enhanced and hyper- sexualised. The tan is fake, the eyelashes are fake, the hair is fake, the nails are fake. And that's just the entry level.

Waists are whittled in, breasts are hoisted up and bottoms are pushed out and into what has become the regulation uniform: the bandage dress.

They all look the exact same.

What's most worrying is that they all act the exact same way, too. They seem to have adopted the very same affected gait and dead-eyed stare.

They exude a sense of contrived vulnerability and powerlessness with their flailing limbs and wide-eyed pouts.

They pander to men in ways that men didn't even realise they wanted to be pandered to.

I can't even comprehend how much grooming it takes to look like this. At the very least, it has to take up the better part of the weekend, if not every single evening from Monday to Friday. These women are full-time, unpaid personal groomers.

And to what gain? I saw 12 of these Living Dolls surrounding one man – a sports star, of course. It almost looked like they had formed a queue. I wouldn't be surprised if he handed out tickets. "Number 3245, please."

I could go on, and on, and on about nightclubs like this being

an affront to feminism, but to be honest, I'm beginning to bore even myself with that old rant.

What I will say to the women who go these places is that it is an affront to economics and basic business and marketing sensibilities.

If you're going to objectify yourself, at least have the self-respect to fetch a decent price.

The man on the street could tell you that this is a buyer's market. There were at least two women to every man in the nightclub I braved, and most economists will tell you that that is totes competitive, babes.

Neither is there any diversity in the marketplace. Every product should have a unique selling point. What differentiates you from the rest of these women, apart from the colour of your clutch bags?



Granted, you might look absolutely ravishing in your Herve Leger bandage dress, but remember that the woman he hooked up with last weekend, and the weekend before, was wearing one, too.

Hence the Law of Diminishing Returns kicks in. You'd actually have a better chance if you wore a pair of culottes and an Aran jumper.

And, remember, occasionally businesses need to merge to overcome. Competitors become collaborators.

So, instead of looking other women up and down with that slack-jawed survey of incredulity that you're all very good at, consider siding with them and embracing the sisterhood.

Finally, you're already guilty of false advertising, which augurs no good for the start of a business relationship.

In the weeks ahead, he'll wake up to find a strip of spidery false eyelashes on his pillowcase and discover that your butterfly-shaped vajazzle now looks more like a Rorschach test. In short: you're f**ked.

But there is a glimmer of hope. You can stop taking short-term strategies and making high-risk investments, and that starts by easing off the pressure that comes from going to nightclubs like these. It's just bad business acumen.