Hell on Earth is a West End Nightclub
When I was sixteen and at boarding school with no family in the UK to go to on the weekends, I used to go to stay in London with friends and we’d hit the town, in the hopes of snogging someone. I remember those dark, pulsating bars and clubs that robbed us of far more cash than we really had (I have no idea where it even came from in the first place, our cash) for a few crap drinks and entrance. I remember that feeling of bewilderment when you find yourself all alone in a room crammed with strangers, all of whom seem to be sweatier, better looking and more sexually successful than you. A teenage classic was to stand by while the two friends you came with pulled other guys. You stood there feeling crap, but still you hung on with a fake smile glued to your face, trying to look happy and fun- read available- but inside wanting to wilt. Notting Hill Arts Club, Equinox (!), Tiger Tiger, even Ministry of Sound – not happy times.
Therefore nightlclubs, such as Mahiki, have never really been my bag since I grew up enough to admit to myself that they aren’t my mileu. Every now and then, of course, an exception will be made and I’ll go with the flow, desiring a dance – and maybe even a cheeky snog and number exchange (though I’m always suspicious of the men I meet in clubs). Last night, my chums were doing the whole “guest list” thing around the West End. We started at Home House, a civilised affair, if full of suspiciously well turned out people. But at least there it was possible to have interesting, audible conversations.
The next stop was the Hell on Earth of this blog’s title. It had one thing going for it: it was a simple, perfectly succinct statement of how horrible the moneyed, swirling underbelly of culture-free nightlife is in a town like London. The club was Tramp, supposedly for members, and I should express gratitude for having been allowed in. Apparently it’s quite hard, and nobody seemed very happy about it – from the woman that barred my entry to the cloakroom with rope until a member could vouch for my connection with him (we’d never actually met, he was a friend of a friend of a friend…) to the shouty barmen, to the cloakroom bitch (you have to describe your coat to retrieve it- no tickets. Great for non English speakers).
Finally inside, instant depression. Immediately you were assailed by the dismaying collective soullessness of the clientele- identikit men and women, play boys and play girls, immaculate women one wouldn’t bother to compete with, especially not for the kinds of men who frequent the place, trumped up Eurotrash, Russians and Arabs – some of whom are quite good looking. It’s dark, swirling with rude, pushy people (several of us got bruised from being jostled), drinks spilling, and a dark, low dancefloor over which nameless, colourless club tunes were being pumped. It was worse, music wise, than a university disco. With the bad attitude heaped on it, and the sneery, cold boys and girls thrusting their booties on the dancefloor, I really rather yearned for a school dance. But that’s to be defeatist. At one point a good looking guy came and tried dancing with one of our crowd, who happens to be engaged. Naturally, after a bit of flirtation, she pushed him away. So I sallied up and began a conversation (err, perhaps not the right word), but he only said this: “I’m the boss here. There are lots of women-look around.” I did, at the circles of pulsating, dolled up flesh and short, awful men in suits. Then, noticing he didn’t follow up this statement with: “But I’d only like to be the boss of you, you divine creature” – I sort of slid back, ashamed, to my crowd. A few more knocks like that and I lost my patience.
On my way out, a fat older man stopped me and suggested I stay for a drink. I noted he was lording it over several jeroboams of sparkler-lit Crystale. Then he got nasty and snatched my champagne away, telling me he’d thought I was someone else (now that’s just bad body-guarding) and that I needed to leave. Curiosity killed the cat, so I went on my merry way. A guy from the group followed me out – I shudder to know why – to tell me these guys were far too naughty for me, unless I like orgies and so on. I don’t- particularly not with them. Them being a Kuwaiti prince and his entourage.
A fight with the cloakroom girl (how many ways are there to describe a black coat), a desperate Lebanese 21 year old insisting my cab drop her in Chelsea- at an address she couldn’t remember until I looked on my iPhone- and then, to fill the emptiness that Tramp had opened in my soul, a box of Ferrero Rochers at home, polished off the evening. The token I have today is a hangover and a very useful little note to myself: stay away from West End Clubs- they mean one thing, and that’s annihalation of my oh-so-sensitive soul.