• Afterglow

Post-Club Cheesy Chips: Why You Should ‘Debunk’ Your Night Out When You Get Home

By Megan Laing

Trigger Warning: References to sexual assault

Every night out I go on with either my flatmates or just my female friends,I can guarantee two things: 1) the night will end with cheesy chips (potentially with Doritos and a mug of tea if we’re feeling adventurous) which will be rapidly consumed around our kitchen table before we eventually stumble off to bed and 2) the conversation will centre around which creepy male specimen stared at our tits, grabbed our ass on the dance floor or tried to lure us away from our group.

Obviously, I am keenly aware of which boys I know that I can trust and which ones I absolutely do not. When it comes to clubs or even house parties, the most I will do with a boy that I don’t trust is engage in a polite conversation with the same rotation of questions - How’s your course? What do you take again? Where are you originally from? Who do you live with? This seems to satisfy my need to not be rude and their desire to try and oogle down my top. Because while their number one priority is to have a good time and maybe get somewhere with a pretty girl, mine is to make sure that I and everybody I’ve come out with gets home safe.

And so our cheesy chips ritual has become a staple of university life. I remember one time (a bitterly cold November night) my flatmate and I had been invited out by a girl on her course and her flat. Neither of us drank much before going out - a vodka and coke (maybe two) with our mandatory pre-club cup of coffee back at our flat - then only one at the club. We were happily half-drunk and having a good time.

Until, one of the girl’s flatmates had gone from sober to buzzed to drunk to drunker. On the dance floor, he had one arm slung around my flatmate and the other grabbing at my ass. We had peeled him off a number of times but his hands kept trying to grope at us. He had been nice to us on the way to the club but the second we crossed the threshold from the freezing outside into the sweaty warmth of the club, it was clear that something was beginning to change. The worst part? We thought we could’ve trusted him. Throughout the night, he’d been welcoming and friendly to us.

What course are you on? English Lit. What halls are you in? B Block. How long have you been with your boyfriend? Just over four years. Where is he tonight? Home, tonight is our girls night.

The conservation was short, straight forward and surface level. There was nothing to suggest that I wanted him to grope me on the dance floor or, even worse, try to drunkenly snog me. At the time, this was the worst club experience I’d had and it was the topic of conversation as we stopped off for our post-club chips and ordered an Uber home.

After this, we developed a code between our female friends, which we later expanded to include our male flatmates. It’s a simple thing to learn but memorable enough that we can all use it drunk if we need to.

Thumbs Up = Everything is good, don’t worry

‘Hang Loose’ = Not too sure, keep an eye on us

Peace Sign = I’m a celebrity, get me out of here!

Having hand signals is all well and good but we need to ‘debunk’ our nights out when we get back to recognise the signs, explain certain situations to our flatmates, make a note of people we know who acted in a way we didn’t feel comfortable with then talk to them about it when we’re ready. We need to check in with each other, constantly. Because, although I enjoying clubbing and going out, I would simply not feel safe going out on my own or in a small group of girls.

We’ve helped a girl (a stranger) back to her halls after she blacked out, we’ve fought off someone who tried to force my friend back to his room after he shared our Uber, I’ve had the front of my skirt lifted up, ass grabbed countless times, and somebody even pulled my waist from behind in an effort to get me to grind on them. My boyfriend has been groped a couple of times. I even know a girl who was choked (jokingly or otherwise) on a dance floor.

There is 100% safety in numbers and, even if exhausted, drunk beyond belief or even puking into our designated red mixing bowl, I will be there to discuss, analyse, debunk whatever happened that night, good or bad. I will boil the kettle, make the teas, reheat the inevitably cold chips in the microwave and we will stay up until everybody has shared how their night was and how they feel about it.

It’s not enough to just be vigilant, and hard conversations are always made that little bit easier with our post-club cheesy chips.

If you have been affected by the issues presented in Megan's blog here are a list of organisations who may be able to support you:

Rape Crisis England & Wales

0808 802 9999

Support for women and girls affected by rape, sexual abuse or any form of sexual violence.

Survivors UK

020 3598 3898

020 3322 1860 (SMS)

074 9181 6064 (WhatsApp)

Support for men who have experienced rape or sexual abuse.

Victim Support

Supportline: 0333 300 6389

Free helpline for anyone who has been sexual assaulted now or in the past.

Women's Aid Federation

National Domestic Violence Helpline (24hrs): 0808 2000 247

Women's Aid is the national domestic violence charity that helps up to 250,000 women and children every year.

This article was written by Megan Laing as part of Afterglow's blog writing opportunities. For more information about blogging for Afterglow visit