‘HAVE YE SEEN THAT REALLY UNCOMFORTABLE NIGHTCLUB MEME GOING AROUND? YEH, SO FUNNY… WHO WOULD DO THAT!?’
In case you missed it, this is the most relatable nightclub photo in the history of art, according to The Internet. The muse? An unsuspecting 18-year-old Lucia Gorman, whose face launched a thousand memes. Literally.
Speaking to UNILAD, Lucia said she ‘can’t wrap [her] head around’ overnight viral fame or the truth behind the photograph she ‘can’t escape’ on her timeline.
The shot, taken by David Wilkinson at Opal Lounge in Edinburgh last Tuesday, captured Lucia’s disinterested expression at exactly the perfect moment.
Although they say a picture is worth a thousand words, Lucia told UNILAD:
All my family who have seen the photo since have agreed it is the most typical photo of me when anything you say is going in one ear and out the other.
I do the face quite a lot, actually. It’s a bad habit. I just cannot contain my expressions – ever. If I’m thinking something then you’ll be fully aware of that through my face as you can tell.
She joked it ‘doesn’t always play to my advantage’, adding, in this instance, she felt she wasn’t ‘exactly looking my finest, but I’m sure it could’ve been a lot worse’.
Just take a look at this woman’s viral moment:
In a sequence of events we can all recognise, Lucia had no idea the cameraman was snapping the shot and, with the evening’s events blurred by WKDs, only discovered the existence of the photograph when a friend sent her a tweet.
Lucia recalled how the Uncomfortable Nightclub Meme started small.
Jacob Welner – who happened to go to school with some of Lucia’s friends – noticed the photograph while looking through Milk’s Facebook album and thought it would spark a great caption competition.
Needless to say, his original tweet snowballed, with over 16,000 people loving his not-so-subtle sexual interpretation at the time of writing.
Thus, in the week of the Kavanaugh hearings, the Labour party conference and a No Deal on Brexit looking more and more likely, folk from around the world have found some light relief in the captions.
When in doubt, the Internet did what it is want to do: Extrapolate on an image of a real life situation with absolutely no knowledge of the wider context for their own agenda – be that comedy or commentary – and amusement.
“A SAID DAE YE WANTY COME BACK TO MINE AND PISS IN MA MOOTH” pic.twitter.com/gz1ETe9z8H
— Jacob Welna (@WelnaJacob) September 19, 2018
Lucia’s favourites? While she thinks lots of the memes ‘could quite easily be fitting to the conversation’ she tells UNILAD she likes the original memes the most, in which the brazen cheek of some persistent people is the punchline.
To have my face slapped on them is just so crazy but I laugh every time. I don’t even understand half of the captions now, a lot are linked to football and I don’t have a scooby what they mean but it’s still funny to me.
"AM NOT A WEIRDO AH ACTUAL PLAY FOR MOTHERWELL" pic.twitter.com/mfNPe4i7Ev
— Robert Borthwick (@RFBorthwick) September 21, 2018
The interpretations were a-plenty, all evoking long suppressed memories of hundreds of vapid conversations forced over club loudspeakers.
In their thousands – at the time of writing – the caption competition meme entries have ranged from the obscene to the satirical by way of some cutting social commentary.
One guy hopped on the Bodyguard bandwagon:
"It's just 'Bodyguard'. The Bodyguard was a 90s film" https://t.co/uOnd2W9Kqy
— Ross McCafferty (@RossMcCaff) September 23, 2018
Some took the opportunity to fan the flames of class stereotyping with a little satirical inscription.
They mercilessly took the piss out of some commonly held half-baked views most often overheard at middle-class rugby club parties for under-16s with varying degrees of hilarity.
From mansion tax to reforming the House of Lords, they nailed it:
"I actually didn't vote Labour because the mansion tax would have hit us really hard. My parents bought the house for pennies in the 90s, it doesn't seem fair for them to be taxed just because it's gone up in price. I'm not rich or anything, I was on half a scholarship" pic.twitter.com/IhhKGtc9MP
— S (@seanbgoneill) September 23, 2018
"actually 90 of the peers in the Lords *are* elected" pic.twitter.com/i31tKPLY5R
— Esther Webber (@estwebber) September 24, 2018
One of the most joyous interpretations – IMHO – comes from within the electronic music sphere.
In painfully self-aware terms, the likes of MixMag and Plastician have recounted a narrative yelled into many an unreceptive ear over teeth-chattering bass and tinny high notes from the minds of beanie-wearing math rock and electro music fans who’ve just purchased a rare EP from Fabric back in the day and will tell anyone within a three-mile radius.
Sound familiar? Take a look:
"I actually copped the first Autechre EP when they were called Lego Feet back in '93 for about £7 and now it's fluctuating between £800 – £1200 on Discogs. It's mint condition but I won't sell it yet, give it a few more years and I reckon I can get £2000 at the very least." pic.twitter.com/cDLOzStcds
— Mixmag (@Mixmag) September 24, 2018
“Basically it’s kind of like Tech House but more underground shit but not deep like minimal. It’s it’s own thing. I don’t really do genres I don’t like being put in a box. I’m just me, you know?” pic.twitter.com/fMqmVbbr5i
— Plastician (@Plastician) September 24, 2018
The more simply-minded instead chose to give aesthetic commentary, pointing out the pair’s clothing.
Thankfully, Lucia said she doesn’t mind because ‘everyone’s been positive about it and found it funny and amusing’, adding, ‘I’ve not heard people talk badly about it and the photo isn’t anything malicious so I have no problem with it!’
Here’s some good, wholesome animal content:
‘How’d they let ye in wae a hedgehog’ pic.twitter.com/76Uk509DON
— Matthew Cleland (@MattCleland96) September 24, 2018
The true meme historians have even added Lucia to a long list of Important People Throughout Meme-Story.
She will now take her place alongside the likes of Success Kid, Disaster Girl and that student who ‘held in a fart during class’.
Indeed, Lucia said the experience has made her ‘realise how fast things can travel online’ and understand how ‘anything online really can end up anywhere!’
While the experience isn’t going to turn her into the iGen’s Edward Snowden, she’s n0t wrong. The World Wide Web has really taken her expression under its collective wing and people as far as Australia have been suggesting their own version of events.
Look at this meme-ception:
THERE’S THIS MEME WITH A BLOKE TALKING TO SOME BIRD ON A TRAIN BUT I DON’T GET WHY IT’s FUNNY pic.twitter.com/4DaqpMZRAD
— Mrs Gladys Steptoe (@GladysSteptoe) September 22, 2018
But Lucia, an Edinburgh-born 18-year-old who now lives and studies in Glasgow, shared the reality behind the meme.
She explained who the guy in the promo photo is actually someone she went to school with, called Patrick Richie.
We hadn’t spoken to one another for a few months then bumped into each other that night which was crazy, then I guess it’s just got even weirder since!
I have to be honest, I can’t recall most of it, however I do know it was definitely a good night and from what I can remember it was good fun, despite what my face may say.
Lucia was back home in Edinburgh that night to see Jack Fowler from Love Island make an appearance at Milk – an opportunity she joked she ‘couldn’t turn down!’
The same probably can’t be said for the conversation Patrick was bringing to the table, she laughed:
We spoke about uni and had a catch up but I think Patrick ended up alone away from his friends so I was very confused why he was wandering around on his own.
I think I was more confused than anything about the whole thing! I can’t remember what he was saying but what I can tell by my face that I’d certainly had enough for one night.
I couldn’t even tell you reality of the photo but I know even if Patrick had been talking about baby puppies, EDM or Brexit, I’m sure I’d have tuned out either way! I needed my bed!
Lucia and Patrick have since been in touch and Patrick is ‘okay with it all’, although Lucia thinks ‘it’s maybe been harder for him as he’s getting the brunt of the man-bashing.’
Indeed, for most women who cop the meme it’s hard to not read into it and come up with an often-lived experience of women the world over who are approached in nightclubs by countless Casanovas who, in their perhaps well-meaning efforts to impress, end up doing the opposite.
The memes have (justly) mocked mansplaining and archaic opinions on Match of the Day:
“If you weren’t so angry I reckon more people would be up for listening to your message babe. It’s a tone thing. Communication. I learnt some stuff at work about it. I can give you some pointers. Basically you start by smiling…” pic.twitter.com/WZcz3rDjPs
— morgan lloyd malcolm (@mogster) September 25, 2018
— Sam Whyte (@SamWhyte) September 22, 2018
However, Lucia, who does consider herself a feminist, added:
I think it’s funny, I don’t think people should take the photo too seriously or interpret it under any negative light.
It is something I feel a lot of people have experienced in a club and this photo just helps to make it more relatable. People have come up to me since saying how relatable they find it which is great!
I think it’s a good laugh, it can be interpreted any way but I think it’s super relatable to both guys and girls in many, many situations but the photograph should be taken light-heartedly. He meant no harm!
Lucia was also keen to dismiss the assumptions the photograph was constructed as a money-making stunt. The Edinburgh local has worked in PR for Milk in her hometown before taking a role for the company in Glasgow, where she now lives.
She went on:
But I can promise you it was by pure coincidence that this photo has gone around and it happens to be that I worked there!
Funnily enough my dream had been to set up a night club or a club night for students in the future using my business degree… Who knows, maybe this club photo could be a step in the right direction!
Luckily, Lucia isn’t too worried about the reception of the photograph. She’s ‘super happy to just get on with life at the moment’ and wait until it it blows over when the next funny photograph goes viral.
Meanwhile, her meme is helping her make friends at university, now that she’s a recognisable face in a sea of strangers.
All the same, she doesn’t really know how to act when people approach her for a photograph of their own on nights out or in lectures.
I didn’t think I’d be recognised so when I have been it’s just been hilarious. I don’t know how to act.
People usually just get the photo up and show it to me and I’m like, ‘Yup! That’s me!’ And then I laugh. It’s so strange but so funny how people have recognised me; I really, really didn’t expect it!
Love it, hate it, or relate to it, this moment is the stuff memes are made of – and there’s no point crying over spilt milk.
For more stories from behind the memes, follow UNILAD’s new series of interviews with the people who star in your favourite viral content; ‘That’s Meme’.
If you have a story you want to tell send it to UNILAD via [email protected]
A former emo kid who talks too much about 8Chan meme culture, the Kardashian Klan, and how her smartphone is probably killing her. Francesca is a Cardiff University Journalism Masters grad who has done words for BBC, ELLE, The Debrief, DAZED, an art magazine you’ve never heard of and a feminist zine which never went to print.