Unlisted London

London’s a large, exciting, vibrant city of culture.
Any Saturday night, you can take your pick from a plethora of bars and restaurants, take in some theatre, catch an obscure film, attend a gig, watch live comedy, or wander round one of its many museums, galleries or open spaces. And there’s more nightclubs than you can shake a stick at (not that I’ve ever actually wanted to shake a stick). House, techno, indie, rock, garage, hip-hop, breakbeat, drum & bass; it’s all here.
The listings magazines are full to bursting with choices of places to see and things to do.
Yet there’s a counter-culture that never makes the listings magazines. Popular places that stay hidden, undocumented, known only to locals. Unlisted London.
And so despite my original intentions for a ‘quiet weekend’ I found myself accompanying my good friends the Dorset Boys to a club which came on recommendation.
Its name – ‘Infernos’ – was perhaps a clue to the shambolic disgrace it proved to be (in my experience, clubs ending in vowel sounds – ‘Pink Flamingoes’, ‘Bibas’, ‘Jazzos’ etc – invariably always are).
We made our way past the unpromising entrance to find a splendidly tacky oasis among the desert that is Clapham’s otherwise well-heeled, respectable, trendy bars. A meatmarket like I haven’t been to in years.
Beyond the cloakroom revealed an absolute tardis of a club. Flashing neon everywhere, the cavernous room was quite literally an amusement arcade; coin-operated glass-fronted crane-grabbing machines housing cans of beer instead of fluffy toys. Instead of breakbeat, techno or drum & bass, the huge main dancefloor played a succession of ‘Celebration’, ‘Oh What A Night’ and ‘Like A Virgin’. Whilst the only slightly smaller other floor offered a more ‘contemporary’ mix of Minogue, Eminem and Destiny’s Child.
It was classless in both senses of the word: lawyers rubbed shoulders with factory workers (though I suspect there were more of the latter), but stylish it most definitely was not. Lagered-up lads in Ben Sherman shirts circled groups of girls dolled-up to the nines. Sumptuous side-booths housed hen-parties, it occasionally seeming every other girl had a pair of angel’s wings on their back, along with the obligatory ‘L’ plates. I imagined how hellish it’d be for an ‘Infernos’ to represent my last night of singledom, but in the meantime it was like heaven on earth. When in Rome, I thought to myself, I don’t see nothing wrong with a little bump ’n’ grind, so I joined the masses to cut some rug on the dancefloor.
I’d been sceptical at my friend’s claims that it is the ‘ladies’ who approach the ‘gentlemen’ in this club yet, lo and behold, during an early play of ‘Angels’ (Eh? Slowies before midnight?), a pissed Kent girl lunged at me. The lads applauded this early surge. She passed me over to her buxom-breasted, fake-tanned mate, and though we danced and chatted for a few minutes I wasn’t seeking to close any deals this early.
Suddenly, pissed Kent girl was riding Dorset Boy #1’s back: his 6-foot-3 frame accommodating her with ease. Seconds later, she was riding Dorset Boy #2’s back: his slighter frame wilting with obvious discomfort. Within minutes, other Kentish mates were riding each of their backs. I shuddered as I received a smile from another of their friends, as I grew concerned at how I would carry her Jonah Lomu-like build, so decided it best to move on for my own safety.
As I single-handedly reinvented disco dancing, a sultry, dark-haired girl kissed me as she waltzed past. Dignity had been left back at the cloakroom. Alas my serenading The Tallest Girl In The World with ‘Deeply Dippy’ fell on deaf ears. And despite a couple of ‘near misses’ I found myself alone as the 2am deadline passed when any females had either collared a bloke, or had wisely left. I was too late. I’d managed to lose my friends. But at the end of a truly hilarious night I was not overly disappointed to be returning home empty-handed.
Sometimes, the best nights go unlisted.

1 Comment so far

  1. (unregistered) on July 13th, 1904 @ 3:33 am

    Sometimes I read boring posts.

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