Last night I attended a midnight showing of the Avengers. I'm not particularly into the Marvel movies (never even saw The Hulk or Thor, so sue me), but it was a friend's birthday and it sounded fun and I thought, Hey I'm fun, I'm young. Sure I'll go.

So off I went and had a great time and today I feel like a truck driver who attended a rave immediately after a 32 hour shift. But hey, that's all part of the fun of gathering in a packed movie house at the devil's hour. It's not easy, but it can be done. Here is a how-to guide to getting the most out of your midnight movie premiere.

Always Pre-Order Your Tickets.
Duh. It's 2012, we should be pre-ordering our tickets for a 2:30pm on a Monday showing of Fool's Gold at the YMCA.

Eat First.
Timing is the trickiest part of any midnight screening. The time that spans after-work and your arrival at the theater is a precarious one. Do you go home for dinner? Or do you stick it out and kill time by meeting friends for drinks or a round of mahjong? While I find that staying out is the best way to keep your energy levels up, don't be a dummy about it. Use your head: if you drink too much before the movie, you will be loud and annoying for exactly 21 minutes, after which you will pass out for the movie's duration. Make sure to eat some dinner. No one's enjoying anything at 3 a.m. with popcorn cotton mouth, so fuel up. If you do go home, beware the bed that beckons. You will want to take a nap. Don't. You will hate yourself when you wake up bleary and disoriented at 10:30.

Know Your Audience.
If you are attending a mid-week midnight premiere of a movie that will continue playing in theaters for weeks after, chances are you're a pretty mid-sized fan. Midnight showings are a fan's game, and fans can be an intense sampling of humans. Though every screening will have an excited and unique fanbase, it is important to gauge what you're dealing with. Are they of the tween variety or the comic book? Accurately pre-judging your fellow audience members will help you plan out the night's timing.

Timing Is Everything.
If you are attending the premiere of a comic book movie: One hour in advance will give you plenty of time to get a decent seat, movie treats, and at least two trips to the bathroom before go-time.

If you are attending the premiere of an insanely popular children's book: An hour and a half. There will be parents here, and parents are notoriously good planners. It's sort of their thing. The seasoned ones will have snacks and folding chairs and will not hesitate to get physical over seats. They're in sweats and they don't give a fuck.

If you are attending the premiere of a tween flick: Tweens are the most rabid and unpredictable of all fans. Plan to arrive two hours in advance, amid screaming, costumed maniacs who have all been there since 5am making love-collages from Tiger Beat cutouts.

If you are attending the premiere of a fantasy series: Also two hours. These are the quiet obsessives, but do not let their calmer exterior fool you. They have been waiting in the shadows for this night, and oh, they will have it.

Dressing Up Is A Bad Idea.
No one over 16 is allowed to do this. The only clothing item you should carefully consider is your shoes (Comfortable, always. Socks and sneakers do best against cold theaters and sodium-induced swelling). Be sure to maintain a safe distance from those in violation of this rule.

Seating Is An Art.
Maintain a safe distance from anyone dressed up. If possible, avoid sitting next to hooligans, trouble-makers, urchins, unsupervised young couples, and suspiciously out of place old people. They should be in bed. Same goes for anyone with a water bottle full of anything orange, red, pink, or brown. Always check for balcony seating: people forget about the balcony and it usually still has a free seat or two when the lights go down.

Cheering and/or Clapping During the Movie.
Knock yourself out. Clap, hiss, hoot, holler, yelp, boo. Like I said, this is a fan's world and if you can't let loose in this small kingdom, you really can't do it anywhere. Enjoy being among people who are loving this as much as you are and revel in the knowledge that you are seeing this first. Sleep is for the birds.

Staying Awake.
First, if you do fall asleep, try to remember that it happens. Don't be too hard on yourself and promise yourself that you will see it that weekend. Your friends will be excitedly reliving every swooping action scene and marveling over the special effects; you will be cranky and want to yell at them. Don't.

Coffee, soda, and chocolate are all helpful here. Also Adderall and cocaine. If you have a strong bladder, I can personally attest to the success 44 nutritious ounces of Coke Zero.

Getting Home.
If you're living a public-transit-dependent life, expect on coming home the way you came. Assume that all of the cabs fell into an enormous manhole that opened up blocks from the theater and you will never ride in the back of one again. Prepare to wait at least 18 minutes for the subway. Come to terms with and accept the fact that you are riding it with the city's dregs and that very soon but not too soon, you will be home and in bed unable to sleep for those last hours before work because you have too much adrenaline/pot in you to sleep.