If they're in, how comes they're out?

Nesting? Cocooning? Old hat. Now plain old Staying In is the ultimate in cool.
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Indy Lifestyle Online
REMEMBER the ignomy of being caught staying in on a Friday night? When if you weren't out in some dank dark venue in Catford you were out of it all together? Not any more. Bars and clubs are still full, but they are full of sad people who don't realise that staying in is the new going out. That, in 1997, the sofa beats the bar stool.

The Face has labelled it Domestic Hedonism - the perverse pleasure of staying in. "Why pay pub / club prices," the magazine opined, "when you can get some mates round, stick on a record and crack open a bottle of vodka?" No wonder off-licence sales are looking so buoyant.

Staying in as attitude statement is for the confident only. No one must doubt that you have more fun in the living room. This is not to be confused with the thirtysomething anti-materialism cocooning frenzy. This is staying in for the sake of cool. It is in part a nostalgic yearning for when life was uncomplicated, with only a bedroom and a record collection to look after. The time when the biggest dilemma one faced was whether to put Debbie Harry or Paul Weller on the wall. In this spirit, Muzik, IPC's clubbing magazine, has a monthly "sampling in the home" competition where readers are invited to send in their best music mixed in their bedrooms.

The new breed of celebrity is anxious to prove their stay-at-home credibility, too. The quintessential modern celeb Sandra Bullock boasted in an interview last week: "At the end of the day I run a huge hot bath. I go and check my e-Mail and respond. I make lists, which allows me to be forgetful. All this time the bath is cooling and when it's ready I finish on the computer and go and soak and then go to bed." Rock 'n' Roll, eh?

And what sweet irony it is, seeing DJs and nightclubs now looking to the domestic environment for inspiration. Face editor Richard Benson is opening a club in the late spring that will be trying to combine the benefits of a night in, with the life-on-the-edge feel of the best nightclubbing. "It's going to be called All Back to Ours," explains Benson. "It will hold two or three hundred people and it will recreate a sitting room and a kitchen." It will be much more comfortable than a conventional club. Domestic delights will include toast and a half-hourly "runner" who will do trips to the 24-hour garage.

Broadcasters have long been scheduling for the young on Friday nights but while many used to set the video now they watch live. "It's a top telly night," explains Michaela Bly Bly, 27, who used to be a big clubber but who is now much more inclined to stay in. "The bars are heaving and full of naff people. It's much more enjoyable to stay in or have people round. One Saturday night I was watching TV and so I didn't go out to a party until midnight. But even when I got there, they had stopped the whole party to watch Match of the Day. There were 40 people there and they had turned the music down and everything.".

For her Friday night's viewing Michaela Bly cites obvious choices such as Never Mind the Buzzcocks but then mentions Gardening From Scratch, in which stern fortysomething Helen Yemm takes young urbanites through the basics of pruning and planting. Gardening? For the kids? On a Friday night? It's a phenomenon, explains series producer, Gay Search. "For the third repeat there was an average of 4.1 million viewers and the figures were going up every week, suggesting that people were telling their friends about it. 30,000 people wrote in for the factsheet. We are appealing to people who used to think that gardening was something that their Dad did and who used to be too busy. Now they want to stay home."

Another big asset to the staying in lobby is sport on satellite. As more households get hooked up and more sports abandon the sinking terrestrial TV ship, a night in front of the footie has become a much bigger event. Last week's England vs Italy match was their biggest viewing figures yet at 3.8 million. Many viewers used it as a party opportunity. One man made all his guests turn up in a dressing gown.

Another great boom area is games playing. In an otherwise stagnant market, one sector still growing is adult games. (Note: not the same kind of "adult" as in "adult videos".) "The market is picking up year on year," explains Waddingtons Press Manager Claire Sawkins, "by between 7 and 10 per cent. People want intelligent games, they are not interested in playing with children. Hence Cluedo's move up the IQ scale. Cluedo Super-Sleuth bas been introduced where the outcome is no longer dependent on getting lucky during the mad dash round the rooms at the end.

Scrabble sales have leapt 15 per cent year on year. "In the mid-Eighties Scrabble was a game for the forty plus age group," explains Marketing Director Ray Perry. "Now it is very socially acceptable for the twenties and thirties." Even Boy George, fed up of being kicked out of nightclubs, has become a scrabble addict. Scrabble advertising is aiming at cool, associating itself with cartoon characters such as the Simpsons.

But before we start buying footstools and the Radio Times there is one caveat. Mike Soular explains: "There could still be a sad loser stigma that when you go out you know you have friends, if you stay in then you don't. It has to be that you could have gone out, you just didn't choose to."

An insider's guide to staying in (and a survivor's guide to going out)

When you stay in, prepare yourself

1. A fridge full of beer

2. A freezer full of of vodka and mixers

3. The confidence that you are doing this

through choice not desperation

4. Widescreen TV

5. Comfy chairs and no scuzz, otherwise you're

just being a student and there's nothing cool in that

If you must go out, remember the essentials

1. You must wear fashionable clothes - why waste that pub toilet 'n' fags aroma on any old thing?

2. Forty quid in cash for the taxi (deposited in two different places) so that when half mysteriously 'goes missing' from the cloakroom, you can still get home.

3. Good ears

4. Strong legs

5. A tolerance for the attitudinal shift at 10 o'clock at night. Suddenly everyone is 17, drunk and very ugly.

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