I’m in The Roundhouse in Camden. I picked up some free tickets in someone else’s name, I’m off to see Little Dragon. And I’ve got a special wristband that lets me into the afterparty.
It’s my mother’s birthday. God rest her soul. I wept a little for her memory. I expect she wouldn’t have enjoyed Little Dragon. But I also suspect she would have wholeheartedly approved of me being here on the guest list. The place is full of delightful fools. I was worried that my presence would bring up the average age by a good decade, but thankfully I’m not alone in my demographic. I suspect it’s because Little Dragon is born out of the music I grew up with. And it’s coming back into fashion.
When I was leaving school, we were raving, despite it already being sanitised a bit. The Chart Show was piping The Shaman and The Prodigy into everybody’s shit living room. But in the real world, warehouses that are now being used for immersive theatre events were filled with half naked crosseyed teenagers hammering their systems with chemicals and banging it all night, shoutdancing, sweatfacing, gone. The electronic music scene had somehow gone counterculture and everyone felt they were part of both the counter and the culture. Pet Shop Boys and Pascal’s Bongo Massive mixing together in a mess of light and dark and compromise.
We were kids in velvet trousers on buses in the morning with eyes like plates, jittering alongside all the commuters, holding hands. We were global hypercolour fools, realising too late that our expensive shirt just shows our sweat and if we wash it it’s just a shirt. We were thumping, as we are always thumping, to the sound that we thought was new because it was ours and because we sensed that people older than us disliked it. We were new stamped wide eyed grinning gurning raving idiots. And it was large and we were ‘aving it. But it was tiny.
Irrespective of the size at which we were ‘aving it, we definitely ‘ad something. We ‘ad a lot of dancing. We ‘ad glowsticks. Fuck we danced and danced and danced. And then we danced.
A million years later, I’m here to see Little Dragon. There’s a girl half my age in crutches with one leg. She’s crutch-dancing like crazy and they haven’t even started yet. Twenty minutes until the set starts and the atmosphere is already electric. And the music they’re piping is making me wish I’d caught up with my old friend Ebeneezer. Although he doesn’t actually seem to be here. Because this is the rave scene sanitised. This is people looking at pictures of a bacchanal and saying “looks like they were having fun.” This is party-archaeology.
I realised my wristband got me into the VIP area, so I thought I’d check it out. It’s the same but with a better view and fewer people. Everyone is very polite here, and very well dressed and slightly judgemental. It’s like I’m sitting in the gods at The Globe. “Oh yes, we watch them do the thing they do do from afar, but we don’t need to clap or cheer, goodness no, can you imagine? No no we are not of them, we are observing them.”
Unlike downstairs, nobody is dancing here even though they all have more legs than that girl downstairs as far as I can tell. They’re all just watching the little people dance, admiring each other’s clothes and trying to pretend not to be real. It’s like the opposite of Zion in The Matrix. Everyone is standing still and talking obediently about hummus while avoiding eye contact and trying not to touch their makeup.
Time has passed, and I can happily say that it was a good gig. I managed to alienate someone by asking him if he used to steal cars. I only did it because he was busily hiding his truth and I wanted to get something honest. He really didn’t like me for it, but it was an honest question, if deliberately arch. I think he thought I was jousting with him. Poor dull boy. I should’ve been sensitive to the fact he was on a date, but she and I got on well and I wasn’t trying to move in. I just didn’t see any personality so was trying to work out where he was hiding it.
Thinking about it, that’s why he clammed up. Ugh. Oh well. Little Dragon was ace. It was interesting to stay in the post show carnage despite inadvertently upsetting some self defeated ape of a financier.