Demanding Work Life vs. Nightlife
January 2, 2009 8:22 AM   Subscribe

Woe the aging hipster: How do I fit late night concerts/DJs into a demanding adult working life?

Music has always been a big part of my life and something very important to me, but looking back at 2008 it's not something I've been making any time for.

I've got a very demanding job that eats up the hours from 7-7 on weekdays and requires a full night's sleep to be able to keep up with. If I'm out until 2-3am I've basically ruined the next day for all intents and purposes. This means I usually end up skipping those opportunities unless I'm lucky to be on vacation.

Most people in their late twenties tend to lock into a musical rut, listening to the same things they liked when they were younger and not being engaged or involved with new music this way. This also feels a little like an extension of that.

If you're at that phase of your life, how do you make time for music or going out that late? Taking mornings off work? Some kind of power-nap? Loads of caffeine? I'm trying to be pragmatic.
posted by morallybass to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (15 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
Do you get vacation time? If so, talk to your boss about working something out. Instead of taking a traditional vacation, tell him you sometimes like to go see shows that happen late, and you'd like to occasionally take a half day using your vacation time.
posted by nitsuj at 8:28 AM on January 2, 2009

1) Get lots of rest before the day of the show. Don't skip meals, don't stay out all weekend drinking.
2) be in good shape generally - take your vitamins, eat right, work out.
3) Face that you're going to have to be picky, you can't go see every band that looks interesting or roadtrip it to Boston and Philly to see your favorite band and still work the next day. Or alternately, you can't stay out late just generally, you can only do it when you have a specific, very good reason.
4) Personal/vacation/sick days are your friends. I'll say I need half a vacation day for personal reasons the day after a show that I know will keep me out late. Then I can sleep in with no guilt and turn up at the office at 1pm. Other less scrupulous people will call in sick and then show up at the office saying, "I felt better so I decided to come in," which has the side benefit of making them look dedicated. YMMV.
5) Flex or comp time can also help - I used to have very flexible hours so no one cared if I came in at noon, because it was understood that I'd be there until 8 or be making it up on the weekend or something.
6) Plan on spending some time to recuperate - don't go out dancing two nights in a row and then think you can cut corners on sleep the next three nights, too.

I've come to terms that it takes an awful lot to get me out of the house these days, and I was a 3x a week showgoer, easy, up until I turned 40. I've got other things that are more important than rock shows and I'm okay with that. But when I do go out, these are the kinds of things I use to make it fit into my life with as little impact as possible.
posted by micawber at 8:33 AM on January 2, 2009

btw, do NOT tell anyone at the office why you want these half days or that you like to go see shows that happen late. That will kill any professional demeanor you have, and they will assume you do this all the time. Just say you need to use half a vacation day for personal reasons. No one will ask you why.
posted by micawber at 8:34 AM on January 2, 2009

Best indicator of what's most important to you: time you spend doing it. If music is most important to you, spend less time on things that aren't as important -- work, recovery, personal grooming.
posted by stupidsexyFlanders at 8:36 AM on January 2, 2009

How do I deal with the work/nightlife issue? I pick my spots. I'm turning 40 this year, and all through my 20's and early/mid 30's I used to go see bands 3-4 nights a week. Now, I tend to only go when it's a band I've never heard before that intrigues me, or if it's someone I absolutely can't miss because they rarely tour (Nick Cave being the most recent example of that). That great band I've seen 20 times? I can probably skip that, if it's a Tuesday night.

I don't know if you're a nap person, but naps definitely help - come home from work, power-nap for an hour, then go to the show.

Oh, and if you are in the habit of having several drinks at the show, you may want to cut back on that - my rule is "one drink per band", and I find that definitely helps me wake in better shape the next day than if I've had the 5-6 beers I was in the habit of having at shows when I was in my 20's.

Oh, and just to assuage your fears about being in a rut - even though I'm on the brink of 40 I still find out about/listen to/go see new music all the time. Keep up on music blogs and podcasts, keep talking to your music-loving friends, and you'll never be too far out of the loop.
posted by pdb at 8:52 AM on January 2, 2009

what about the weekends? why not give yourself time then to go out to concerts?

you can also try pandora if you have time at work or otherwise and can listen to streaming internet radio. it's interesting because you can discover new music that way. there's also watching taped concerts and etc on youtube.
posted by big open mouth at 8:53 AM on January 2, 2009

I'm in the same boat. Concurring that the key is to take care of yourself generally, don't get too drunk at the show, prioritize. And go home immediately after the band finishes, instead of having another drink or two because it's not last call yet. I don't know whether it's a sleep-cycle thing or not, but I find the difference between going to bed before 2:30 and after 2:30 to be HUGE in my alertness level the next day.

Also, I'm comfortable with the decision that I would rather be able to go out at night than get a full eight hours of sleep every single night. A little mental preparation gets my ass out of bed with a minimum of internal whining.
posted by desuetude at 9:05 AM on January 2, 2009

Things that help, some of which mentioned above:

- General physical fitness
- Avoiding smoky venues
- No drinking
- Don't stay until the bitter end
- Look for early shows (e.g. record stores, public parks, radio promotions)
- Rest up the night before
- Plan to get work done ahead of time and not scheduling much for the day after

And to echo micawber, some workplaces might frown on music as an extracurricular activity. Obviously, you know your workplace better than us, but I've known a couple of workplaces that got fed up with flaky musicians and music goers among their ranks. It's a real shame they ruined it for those of us that want to keep our "day job."
posted by GPF at 9:29 AM on January 2, 2009

Also, the caffeine nap works.
posted by GPF at 9:31 AM on January 2, 2009

Don't get me started about employers and music. Staying home with a sick kid unexpected is not a big deal, missing the first couple hours that you planned several weeks in advance for apparently shows a lack of commitment. Like you might run off and join a band for a couple of years. Oh well. Here are some tips:

- Morning after, Olay moisturizing skin and Red Bull. Definitely don't drink caffeine at the concert and stay at one drink a band rule. People were gossiping about me being a lush, even though I definitely had not been drinking the night before. I think there's a combination of smoke filled rooms, dancing and loud music that permeate your skin and create the tired, hung over look. Definitely want to avoid people thinking you get wasted every day.

- Lay out what you want to wear the next day, shower the night before. My waking up and going to work consists of shampooing my hair and throwing on what I laid out. Showering also gets me in the mood to go to sleep and music venue grime off me.

- I always have to plan things in advance and avoid the temptation to go to a concert at the last minute. I've learned to tie up all existing loose ends and not start any up the night I'm going out. Like if you e-mail someone at the end of your work day, even if it is generic and not a big deal, you don't want that person to be up in arms about where you are the next day. Nothing pisses off bosses more than people asking where you are, etc. You can't really help this, so you have to be active in taking steps to prevent it. I found that bosses don't care if you made plans to take a morning off, if they hear people complaining they think you have taken too much time off.

- Keep it a secret! Keep it a secret! Not even the coworkers you think are cool. Again, going out at night is frivolous things you should have been done with when you turned 18. So you're spending all your time on "dates" trying to find a girl, right? Right? Okay stick to that story.
posted by geoff. at 10:27 AM on January 2, 2009

Everyone has great suggestions, and Micawber has it on the head. What I do:

1. try to go to bed early the night before.
2. hurry home to catch an hour's nap before the show
3. immediate application of caffeine upon waking up from said nap
4. don't drink at weekday shows
5. use personal/vacation days judiciously
6. choose my weekday shows carefully
7. leave immediately after the show
8. if I can't take the day off, I try to set up the next day to be "quiet" -- get work done ahead of time, don't schedule meetings, etc.

Take people's advice above, and definitely do not discuss with your boss why you are using said personal days.

If I'm not super interested in the opening band, I'll sometimes skip it to get that extra bit of naptime in. The nap really makes a difference in getting through the show. Likewise, a 20-minute head-on-the-desk recharger during lunch hour can be helpful the next day.
posted by tigerbelly at 11:17 AM on January 2, 2009

I'm 30. I need eight hours of sleep a night; my job is pretty demanding and I often work 10 hour days. I like to fit a show in every once in a while, although I went to see the Faint on the spur of the moment on a Tuesday. The show was great; the rest of the week sucked. My recommendation? Stick to weekend shows. It's hard (and many say impossible) to catch up on sleep, and despite your best efforts (moisturizing, lots of water, a nap before you go out), the day after a late night is usually pretty exhausting and tough to focus. Lots of stuff happens on the weekend, and you should be able to catch Girl Talk or Xiu Xiu or whomever on a Friday or Saturday night.
posted by cachondeo45 at 11:21 AM on January 2, 2009

As I've gotten older, I've gained vacation time and been able to be more selective with my jobs, too. I get to work from home somewhat regularly. You may want to seek out a job that allows you to come in around 10 a.m. and work from home a couple of days out of the week. If gradually changing your schedule to accommodate your personal love of music isn't an option, then everybody else has it covered.

The only thing I'd recommend that hasn't already been said if you do start taking 1/2 days: Gossipy people shut the hell up pretty quick if you mention that you're seeing a therapist. As far as I'm concerned, yeah, music IS therapy. Nobody is going to get on you if you're doing something proactive for your mental and physical health, and if that's what music does for you, then saying you're seeing a therapist regularly isn't the worst white lie you could tell to your cubicle-farm mates.
posted by Unicorn on the cob at 11:27 AM on January 2, 2009

Start liking more new bands. These are the bands that open up for the headliners, and if you get sick of the headliners but like the opening bands you can leave earlier.
posted by rhizome at 12:05 PM on January 2, 2009

I'm going to make a suggestion that is alluded to sort of above. Type up some low urgency but high-ish priority emails and save them in the few days prior to your show. This way, when you're in the office, and potentially miserable (though hopefully feeling alert and chipper) you'll have some stuff in the can that you can just hit "send" on and it looks like you've done some work!

And something I haven't really seen mentioned enough in this thread, (once, it's been mentioned once!) is water. Drink enough water. Always. Find out what enough water is for your own personal body, and always be hydrated. (For some folks this really is 8 8ounce glasses of water each day. For others its...more ...or less.)
posted by bilabial at 6:54 PM on January 2, 2009

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