Nights out have certainly changed, as I found out a few months ago in a basement in London Fields. At 11pm, as the DJs were warming up, I saw a young lad tire of dancing, turn to his phone and open up Pokémon Go. He then spent most of the night trying, with little success, to catch a Pidgey by the decks.
Pokémon Go ruined many activities last year (shopping, walking, going outside generally), but clubbing's a new one - not that the augmented-reality game is entirely to blame for clubs across the country shutting down. Since 2005, the number of nightclubs in Britain has almost halved, down from 3,144 to 1,733.
Personally, I blame hygge. The Danish art of living cosily involves nuzzling in comfort and wellbeing, and I'm guilty of it too, sort of. Just instead of luxe Scandi design and Jo Malone candles, my nights have paid more homage to American entrepreneur and renowned recluse Howard Hughes - they involve seeing as few people as possible, while watching as many Netflix series as I can humanly manage. Which seems all well and good, but it does leave clubbing looking a bit neglected.
Boiler Room, the platform that live-streams DJ sets and gigs around the world, may have the solution as it launches the world's first virtual-reality music venue in London. The physical club, due to open this year, will be rigged with cameras, which will allow fans to watch gigs and go clubbing in real time, via virtual-reality headsets. In short, you'll soon be able to rave from your bedroom in a more immersive way than just turning the speakers up until your neighbour calls time on your homemade Haçienda.
Over the five years I've worked as a DJ, I've seen a lot of things - from punters at the start of the night awkwardly stomping around as though they'd watched YouTube dance tutorials from C-3PO, then a couple of pints later swaggering away like Liam Gallagher listening to "Supersonic", to people vehemently refusing to leave until their record request gets a play (it never does) and grown-ups in the early hours having a bit of a moment to Toto's "Africa" (who hasn't?). I've played at venues about to crumble - one memorable December in Leeds, I spent an entire set with a portable heater next to my decks because the club's windows were smashed in as I attempted to warm up the frostbitten crowd with some Prince. I'm intrigued to see how any of that can be replicated.
At Boiler Room's headquarters in Hackney, I try out a few of the virtual experiences on offer - it isn't live and the technology has now been updated, but it's a rough guide to how it will be. The virtual-reality headset I try on is an older Samsung model that looks like a pair of futuristic ski goggles. It's heavy and bulky, almost like the VR equivalent of getting your first Nokia 3310 (I'm told that a good-quality headset is around £100, which seems quite pricey for the odd bit of bedroom dancing). When I pair the headset with some noise-cancelling headphones, I resemble a budget Black Mirror episode, or an early draft of The Jetsons.
I try out a VR club night with grime MC Kano, which feels a lot like being in the computer game Doom. It's like a wonky Nineties video game, with Kano towering over me, shouting beats in my face. There's a DJ hovering over the decks looking incredibly serious; young kids are dancing - others bob their heads stoically - while a few are taking pictures on their phones. So far, so authentically east London.
I'm squashed in the middle of the crowd, without the sweat and beer flying around, unable to interact with anyone. It's quite cold and soulless, a bit like being inside a gif, and it leaves me feeling like a very sober voyeur intruding on a good night out. In reality, I'm swivelling around the conference room of a hip young company in unflattering apparel, trying not to knock coffee over expensive tech.
Like Glastonbury, the idea of watching the highlights from afar on a couch, with indoor plumbing, can be pretty appealing - smugness-inducing, even - when you miss out on getting resale tickets or you happen upon images that year of humans swallowed whole by mud - although it can never really replace the experience, long drops and all.
There's certainly an appeal to the virtual-reality venue. This could be the solution for when you can't make it to a night out (if you're full of cold, skint or just a bit lazy), a way for fans in far-flung places to watch their favourite DJs without having to spend a fortune. But then clubbing was never meant to be virtual, or even convenient. While virtual-reality clubbing is exciting and looks set to be the next best thing to going out, it's certainly no substitute for actually going out.
Clubbing (in real life) is the anti-hygge. It's cumbersome, an effort to get everyone out and, rather than revelling in warming Scandi accents, can feel more like having the flu: sweaty but somehow always freezing. And yet all these things are important, because you're young and things aren't meant to feel like a bubble. Everything as a twentysomething feels aspirational and unattainable - except for clubbing, which is real. And that's why it should probably stay exactly how it is.