Sunday, 25 May 2008

Young and Free, Only 17

So guess who decides to go clubbing last Friday? It was Richard's fault entirely. He was taking pictures down at Rampage's reunion dance at the Inc club in the 02 Arena and thought it might be a neat idea to drag me along as well. For those who aren't familiar with Rampage, they were (are) a really popular bunch of DJ's, who basically provided the soundtrack to the lives of many young Black Londoner's during the mid 90's. Back in the day you could guarantee that a Rampage dance would be a road block affair. It's the kind of event that would cause you to pull out all the stops with regards to your personal grooming. Hair, clothes and make-up had to be on point because you were bound to bump into your work mates, college friends and ex-boyfriends. Like all good things that must come to an end though, Rampage parties were no different. In amongst trying to hold down careers and starting and raising families, I guess we all kind of grew up and clubbing moved way down on the list of priorities for most of us.

But by some stroke of genius here we all are again 10 years or so later, trying to re-live that magic. Who knew that everything aspect of the 90's rave scene would be delivered with such authenticity? At 2am I'm still trying to decipher why 200 plus people are standing outside the venue queuing up to get in. I loathed queuing for clubs in the peak of my raving years, so you can imagine how hard it is to resist the urge to say to Rich "Let's just knock it on the head." Plus my feet are killing me. I'm wearing a pair of strappy gold sandals, shoes that I haven't worn for about a year, and the unfamiliarity is becoming more and more apparent. I'm shuffling from foot to foot and trying to remain a good sport. We're standing in the guest list queue and the doorman assures us that we'll be let inside within 10 minutes. But he's lying. And did I mention that my feet are burning me? Then to make matters worse, a Black Joe 90 look-alike enters the equation. Lanky, loud and wearing oversized spectacles, he plants himself right behind me and Rich, his opening statement instantly grating me - "Women run the world they do". He keeps repeating this nonsense in a voice that is so shrill, annoying and hysterical sounding that I just wanna chin him. He just doesn't stop talking. Then deciding that his audience of 6 wasn't sufficient enough, he tries to talk to me (BLANK). Not one to give up easily, he diverts his attention to Rich, figuring that he'll get in there by talking about that universal topic of interest to men - phones. But again - BLANK. The model chick and her two mates in front of us - BLANK.

I try my best to block him out. Right now all I care about is getting inside, having a glass of Bailey's and listening to a few good tunes. Finally the moment arives. We're frisked down, and ushered into to the club. Typically, the club is half empty and a hundred or more people are still waiting outside. Ah well never mind. I have to sit down for 15 mins for my feet to recover. Rich buys me the Bailey's I've been longing for and heads off in among the crowd to start taking pictures. It then dawns on me that without my female friends I might be in for quite a lonely night. Just as I'm thinking that, Rich spots our friend Lorraine. She's here with another one of our friends, Ursula, and I rejoice at some much needed female company - yeah, the party is on. Minutes later we're in among a sea of faces, swaying, dancing and reminiscing to old soul classics. "Forever My Lady" (reminds me of a guy I was seeing who showed me the door because I was taking too long to give up the goods). Brandy's "Best Friend" (takes me back to my University days , sitting in the canteen having a laugh with Buki, Denise, Raj and Aeesha). "Stroke You Up" (brings back memories of R-Kelly being a cool, up and coming artist taking the R&B world by storm - what happened dude?) It was that kind of night... a night of enjoyment and reflection. My young adulthood captured sonically in a four hour segment. By the time the music changed to Jungle to House then to Garage, me and the girls had found three prime spots on top of the speaker boxes and just decided to chill. I refused to acknowledge my tiredness. It was only when the ragga (or bashment as it's now known) came on, and I couldn't even lift a leg that I knew it was time to hit the road.

Reluctantly we leave the club, when we arrive outside the 02 Arena at 6am I'm surprised to see a world in motion. Birds are soaring energetically, businessmen are boarding their trains, and store vendors have opened up shop. This is another part of clubbing that I recollect vividly - the feeling of embarrassment when you re-enter the real world with dishevelled stinky clothes, smudged make-up, and sweated out hair, set against the rest of the population who are up and about looking well-presented and clean. To quote an old school saying, "Shame guy".

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I am a thirty-something African Caribbean female from South East London. My blog will shine a light on Black British culture offering the best in entertainment, fashion, beauty, community, film & music, with the occasional personal musing thrown in from yours truly. Thank you for taking out the time to peek into the pages of my diary. Now grab a cup of cocoa, relax and enjoy.