Sent: Wednesday, June 26, 2002 01:26 AM
Clubbing in Australia - 02/03/02 to 12/05/02
Prior to arriving in Australia we only had one rule about Mardi Gras: Keep our powder dry (metaphorically you understand) in the week leading up to the Parade and Party. One rule was all we had, and could we keep it? Could we heck. I blame Wade and Alan Thompson. Wade for his HUGE love for Alan Thompson and Alan Thompson for launching his new deal with Ministry of Sound at a party in Sydney on the Wednesday before the parade.
So off we trot into the Sydney night on the Wednesday before the Parade and Party with lots of promises made to ourselves and each other to take things easy and avoid peaking too early.
The Mile High Club (who in MoS Marketing is to blame for that one?) is to be found at City Live one of the venues which will be used for the Mardi Gras Party so we can at least partly excuse our presence as a scouting mission in preparation for Saturday. As usual our excitement has us setting out way too early at 9.30pm. Mind you if it had been left up to Sausage and Wade we would have left the flat shortly after lunch time.
There are two words that should strike fear into the hearts of any sane clubber, being the potential ruination of any club night "free alcohol." Shot glasses are lined up at one end of the bar and you can choose from translucent stuff and dark red stuff. Both taste like the leftovers from the medicine factory which maybe accounts for the need to promote them. But their presence has drawn a number of people in relatively early, which at least gives us something to look at.
Our first DJ is playing chart nonsense and the dance floor remains semi-deserted until a particular bassline lopes out of the speakers causing an almost universal scream. Kylie, national icon, gay icon and therefore definitely Wade's icon has the floor filled in seconds. Another universal truth is immediately revealed. Australians can't dance. Men dig holes, women flail like dervishes, men direct aircraft, women wrestle invisible alligators. It is as shocking as it is funny.
Over the next couple of hours the floor belongs to the drinkers whose lack of dancing ability becomes ever more pronounced before they start to slowly retreat into the darkness around the dancefloor. Our second DJ seems intent on proving the absence of anything that could be called a music policy by replacing the chart candy floss with that commercial trance that has saccharine hooks spread like too thick jam across every tune and leads, with terrible inevitability to Mairie Brennan from Clannad or some other soundalike warbling plaintively over the top of a load of syrupy rubbish.
So you can imagine what a relief it is when Alan Thompson takes over. I can only think that he had heard a little of what had gone before and wanted nothing at all to do with it because he just lets the previous DJ's last tune play out and starts from scratch with the helicopters and sirens of 'We have the house surrounded.' By the time the first proper tune kicks in Wade is floating somewhere close to the ceiling with a big grin on his face, a position from which he does not move for the next three hours.
By half an hour into Alan's set the drunks have evaporated and the medium sized crowd look like they are enjoying what they are hearing, prime time DTPM floor fillers, lots of vocals, funky, relatively quick. Sausage and I both have grins on our faces of a type that you only see at the end of a long enforced separation from something that you REALLY like.
Biggest surprise of the night comes when Sausage bounds back onto the dancefloor to tell me that BK and Pandora are upstairs. We've met these two a couple of times, the last time at Dance Valley in Amsterdam last August when Ben was having a very bad day, a plane delay meant he missed his set, he eventually got to play for half an hour with no monitors and then had his record box stolen! Pandora is a young woman who is filled to bursting with excitement, so much so that it leaks out, all the time, making the most mundane things VERY EXCITING INDEED!!!!!
It turns out that Ben lived his weekends in Turnmills at Trade at exactly the same time as Sausage and I. So he and I had one of those nostalgic, 'back in the day,' 'wow, and what about the time that....' conversations that you can only have with someone who shared in something special, even though our paths never crossed back then.
The good news about the Mile Hile Club is that it finishes at 3am so we make our way home rarely having laughed so much in a club and having had a gentle warm up for our big night out on Saturday. We return to a flat where Cathy is asleep meaning that the four of us retreat to Wade's room and unwind with a cup of tea and whispered conversations.
Are all clubbers creatures of habit? Or am I on my own in always wearing the same knickers (we don't want stuff falling out do we?!) and in needing plenty of time for my full pre-clubbing ritual (shower, skin care, smellies, getting little clubbing wallet ready etc etc etc). Well imagine the disruption if you have to leave the house at 5pm to watch some stupid little procession like Mardi Gras and then go straight on to go out clubbing???? How can that be possible? So it is that the early part of Saturday is spent with 2 queens and 2 Sausages finalising the preparations for, and logistics of their expedition. The story of the parade is to be told elsewhere so I'll proceed straight past GO!, shan't go to jail and will fast forward....
At 10pm the final phalanx of swaying arses retreats into the distance marking the end of the Mardi Gras Parade and goodbyes are said to Helen and Alex who aren't coming to the party with us. Longed for pees are taken behind trees, Wade slips into the smallest pair of black hotpants I have ever seen and we join the throng walking across Moore Park to Fox Studios on the site of the old Royal Showgrounds.
Getting in is a breeze and we set about finding our way around the four main rooms. At 11.30pm we meet up with Danny, Nick and Alan Thompson. Meeting Alan Wade can't speak, David can, unfortunately, as his opening gambit is 'Hello, I thought you were Smokin Jo!' Alan's face seems determined to set off in about five different directions all at the same time, not due to the shock of meeting David Borg, though he does have that effect on people, but because he has foolishly allowed Nick to 'help' him enjoy his evening and must now live with the consequences.
Our first port of call is the RHI hall which holds about 8,000 people and is full to bursting with a crowd swaying like blades of grass (the only movement possible because it is so packed) while having the most appalling europap shoved down their ears and waiting for the first act of the night. 45 minutes late, just at the very limits of our G.A.Y music tolerance Deborah Cox appears. Young, black, Canadian, with a voice to die for. The show is very well done, from the entry on a podium that travels the entire length of the hall bearing the diva, her four dancers and the deaf signer to the finale where she is accompanied by 26 drag queens in fake Coco Chanel outfits (that'll account for the delay then!) But with the press of the crowd we're happy to escape into the cool night air at 1.15am.
Outside we meet a very damaged, damp Danny who had nipped out for some fresh air, found the doors locked when he tried to get back in and got soaked as the heavens opened. We pass through the Dome, a sweatbox with a floor an inch deep in sweat and turgid tribal beats plodding on their way to nowhere in particular.
But we sit down and put the world to rights in the Hordern Hall where we wait for Rachel Auburn. By the time she comes on at 3am we are like two kids wacked out on tartrazine. Rachel is one of 3 overseas DJ's brought in and the only one in the hard house room. What can I tell you. She blew it, big time. If we were hoping for a reminder of life on the cutting edge what we get is a history lesson including Energy 52, Olive and old, old Signum. For the first hour and a half of her three hour set we are just happy to be there but the novelty of hearing all those old songs just wears off after a while and I can't help but think of a cracking back-handed compliment that BK told me on Wednesday 'Oh, I haven't heard those tunes in soooo long.'
Time bends in all the
usual ways, much complete bollocks is talked. Danny, Nick and I climb.