Singles of the year: #84 (NMC)

84. Flashdance – Deep Dish

This year, I only had one Big Clubbing Night Out in London: a late summer excursion to DTPM @ Fabric, followed by Beyond @ Fire. Both pleasant enough events in their own ways, and yet, and yet… was it just me getting older and more jaded, with priorities re-aligned, no longer buying into the collectively maintained illusion, or was there something fundamentally missing? Because, compared to my glory days at Trade in the mid-to-late 1990s, both events seemed terribly… I dunno… polite, restrained, buttoned-up, just another leisure time routine/lifestyle option to be consumed, rather than to actively participate in. Where was the heady, delicious sense of freedom, of letting go, of surrendering yourself to the mayhem… of community even? Because frankly, you’d find about the same levels of friendliness and interpersonal connection in your nearest out-of-town supermarket.

I suppose that what has changed is this: firstly, that all remaining connection with late 80s/early 90s rave culture has long since been severed (whither PLUR these days?), and secondly, that the shock of the new has vanished: even at Trade in 1996/97, there were still plenty of newbies each week, experiencing full-on club culture for the first or second time – and their sense of amazed wonder and delight was infectious, influencing the overall mood of the night. Whereas now, gay club culture is an entirely known quantity, fully documented and codified – and largely static, it has to be said.

So, anyway… there we were, Buni and I, early on, finding our way round the unfamiliar hi-gloss labyrinth of Fabric, feeling for all the world like nervous country cousins in the big bad city, having our first shy little bop in the main room, and I’m wondering what the music’s going to be like, and this track comes on with this nagging, repetitive rock guitar riff, and I’m thinking: goodness, wasn’t expecting this sort of thing… and three or four weeks later I hear it again on the Top 40 countdown, and oh, this is Deep Dish is it? Wow, they’ve changed their sound since the Junk Science album (my favourite album of 1998, no less). So, you know: memories and associations, basically.

Postscript: A couple of hours later at DTPM, and I’ve got well into the swing of things, away with the fairies, lurching about to funky tribal house or whatever the hell they were playing by then, when this short girl next to me nudges my elbow, looks up at me with a concerned expression, and asks whether I’m feeling all right.

– Yeah, I’m fine, why do you ask?

– Well, you were pulling such a face – it looked like you were in pain or something.

You see? You can’t even do cheesy-quaver gurning no more. Kids today, they’ve no idea…

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