That may have influenced the mindset I was operating under when I went downtown on Sundays to dance until four in the morning (and occasionally after) at the club Sway, which had a famous weekly Smiths party. Although I wouldn’t be caught dead there now, in its heyday it was stuffed to its brocade walls with models, wannabe socialites and fashion types, but the middle of the floor was always reserved for the people who knew the Peel Sessions inside and out. It was my ideal dating pool.
Wearing a Morrissey shirt to Smiths night was inadvisably nerdy in the way that wearing one to a concert might be, but also because people got dressed up for it like the man himself was going to show up and try to take their phone numbers. I would go a lot with my friend Kelsey. My first memory of her is at our own private Smiths night, a week after I fled New Jersey and at least a year before we’d first go to Sway. We were eating apples from her family’s Pennsylvania orchard with a few other friends in her old, smoky apartment in the East Village. After noticing my threadbare gray-and-pink shirt, a middle-school Christmas gift showing the album cover for Rank, she put on “Unlovable” and we softly sang along. Although we screamed the lyrics to countless others together during my Sunday night phase, that first time is always especially memorable.