Teens may finally have a place just for them. But does it even exist?
Teen Life: In search of a place just for us - Volume Club
Teenagers have long grumbled that we are the members of society who are ostracised for things such as having bubblegum-pinkstreaked hair or piercings. Adults are the ones, though, who create problems for the world, such as, oh, maybe the financial crisis or global warming. We are fully justified in our continual whingeing and self-pity. For one, there are not many places where we can simply go to just hang out with our friends. When we gather at parking lots or outside shopping malls, we are accused of loitering, as if we are no doubt out to create trouble and blow something up.
A skate park near my house used to be a favourite teenage haunt until it was closed down and the skaters forced out on the streets - no doubt because residents thought the play areas in the compounds were sufficient entertainment for us. Yeah, parks with a couple of swings and tiny plastic horses on springs that a 15-year-old would love to clamber on - if they could fit on the saddle.
Happily, a club, exclusively for teenagers ages 12 to 17 has opened in Dubai - the Volume Club in Al Quoz. The concept is fantastic: finally, a safe haven away from the prying eyes of grown-ups who are convinced that we are up to no good. Or at least, somewhere we can while our time away without them being able to prove that we are up to no good.
It's meant to be "a safe environment, allowing for quiet time, electronic gaming and other indoor sporting activities, or simply a place to relax and be with friends". Movies, a pool table, air hockey and PlayStations - there's nothing we love better than doing things that are deliciously and uselessly unconstructive.
The first visit is free, too, so I strung along a couple of friends for a visit. It was - apparently - a kilometre away from Times Square Mall, and dad, the loyal chauffeur, pulled up in front of Times Square. "Where now?" Aha, I thought, Googling a map on my phone, time to call up my unerring direction finder to the rescue.
I wouldn't wish the agony that followed in the next hour upon anyone. I stayed glued to the phone screen, shouting "Left! Left! Right and straight - no, turn back, I mean right if you look at it the right way up but it's actually upside down", while dad ground his teeth louder and louder. The girls were in full flow about so-and-so's scandalous crush and dad was growing increasingly redder when I yelled, an hour later, "Stop! Right, it should be in front of us."
We peered in wide-eyed wonder through the gloom. There was a building with a sign saying something about "Pest control" and a load of warehouses. Nobody picked up the phone when we called the contact number we found online and we were driven straight back home. The first step to providing teenagers with much-deserved fun and keeping them out of the way, I suppose, would probably be a comprehensible road map and accessible public transport. We will continue to delight you with our grouchy, offensively pink-haired presence until the happy day of locating our promised haven arrives - hopefully next week.
• If you want to try to find the Volume Club before Lavanya does, check out www.volume4teens.com
Lavanya Malhotra is a 17-year-old student in Dubai