In 1967, zoologist Desmond Morris published his famous book The Naked Ape, in which he claimed (among other things) that nights out with the lads were part of men’s genetic programming, a remnant of the days when they bonded together in hunting packs, and unparalleled in women, who were evolved to stay home and look after the kids. Now, 36 years later (not long in evolutionary terms) it would be interesting to know what he’d make of A Night Out With The Girls, which showed packs of women hunting down a good time with a ferocity that would make a caveman tremble.
It was striking how similar the girls’ idea of fun was to that of the typical party-animal male. Clubs were their chosen hunting ground, alcohol and sex their preferred stimulants, and rowdiness and baring of flesh their way of expressing enthusiasm. The main difference was that the girls partied a lot harder, probably because they were able to get away with things that would have got boys either locked up or beaten up.
The most obvious was their touchy-feeliness with male strippers (with, it must be said, the strippers’ evident consent), although their minibus driver might not have been so indulgent if it had been five men baring their arses through his side windows, either.
There are downsides to this kind of thing, as the film was at pains to point out. The worst is the effect of massively excess alcohol consumption, as in the case of the teenager who, already drunk, downed a third of a bottle of spirits in one go, then half of another, then died.
Sexually transmitted infections are also a danger, especially as women are more likely than men to have their whims in this department indulged by passing strangers. But none of this seriously worried the girls, who seemed intent on making up for a million years of missed pack-bonding.
Back in the 1960s, Desmond Morris suggested that working-class and aristocratic men indulged in more pack-play than the middle classes, the former because their unstimulating jobs were poor hunting-substitutes, the latter because they simply didn’t have jobs. Interestingly, the wildest group of party-girls in this film worked together in a Mansfield factory, and spoke of feeling the need to let off steam after a hard week’s toil.
Perhaps Morris was half-right, and the pack-bonding instinct is genetic, but not limited to one sex. Exposed to the lads’ traditional hunting-substitute environment, and freed from the cultural conventions of “ladylike” behaviour, the girls seem to be every bit as good at it as the boys.