Last night I was at a dinner party in Stoke Newington, at a friend’s plush house I could only dream of ever owning. It was a lovely evening, and dare I say it…very middle class. I was the most common attendee by far, which I clung onto as we drank £40 bottles of wine.
But I guess you don’t have to fight the power every day and sometimes it is nice to spend time with people much richer and successful than yourself. Although I did read two chapters of Das Kapital when I got home to stoke the fires of revolutionary socialism, it didn’t really work to be honest, but I got to sleep easily enough.
However, something strange stuck me on the way home, as I jumped on the newly introduced 24 hour tube at Highbury and Islington station on the Victoria Line at around 2.40am, it was quiet, not dead, but nowhere near as busy as I thought it would be. I was expecting a biblical scene of vomit, blood and poorly sung power ballads, but it wasn’t to be. I travelled virtually the whole line to the final stop, Brixton, and it was, well, fairly pleasant. I know it sounds weird, but it shouldn’t be.
I don’t know the figures of people who have been using this all night service, I’m sure you can find them somewhere, but it seemed that it was quiet, because there isn’t anywhere to go anymore. Maybe London was full of people at parties they can’t leave, as they can’t use the old “I need to catch the last tube,” excuse, but I doubt it.
Now I am 35 and my clubbing days are behind me, but I have been to enough all night parties and raves to not remember any of them, if you get what I mean.
When I was 25, I was at loads of different underground venues every weekend, which mates much cooler than me took me to. During these times the night tube would have been immense, scuttling around under the streets of London going onto the next warehouse rave.
Instead we got illegal cabs, something I don’t encourage anyone to do. But I was generally with a gang of very loud, and fairly intimidating Geordie men, so we didn’t have any trouble, as you can, or possibly can’t imagine. We even once brought one of the illicit drivers into a house party, but that is another story.
However in the intervening ten years, I have got older and party less, one am is now a good innings. Saying that my missus was out until past 5am on two school nights last week, so at least someone in the household is flying the flag for London’s nighttime economy.
Also during the last decade the gentrification of the capital has seen many venues close down, with Fabric being the most recent. I was apoplectic with rage about it, until it dawned on me I hadn’t actually been myself for about four years, even though (name drop time) a couple of my school friends, until recently, DJ’ed there regularly. Also the many clubs surrounding Elephant and Castle are shutting down, as the million pound a pop flat developments have sprung up in the last couple of years.
Of course there are places still to party in London, I’m just probably too old to know about them. But there are nowhere near as much as there were a decade ago. However, London feels like it has become sterilised. Why would I bother to get the night-tube to Kilburn to a new All Bar One type venue, when there is one on my own high street? The incentive to explore the city has diminished and it’s a shame because soon most of the lines will run all night at the weekend. London is now your oyster, but it is a shell of what it once was.
Maybe there will be a clubbing renaissance in London, but I can’t see where, how or when, as young people are priced out. One thing I do know is that I will not be there to see it.