A definitive guide to the land of lavatories
A while back Britain stopped making things. This is because when it came down to supply chain logistics a nine-year old Bangladeshi boy is easier to pay tuppence than an adult worker with heavy union representation. So instead the nation exported ‘service’ and thus places such as the city became the provider for lucrative opportunities such as legal counsel and financial management. But it didn’t stop there, Britain also leveraged its history of post industrial enlightenment and exported ‘culture’ – the invention and commoditisation of sports such as ‘Premier league football’ a glaring example, but another area has been ‘nightlife’.
Now only some overly patriotic idiot would proclaim Britain to be the genesis of a ‘night out’ but in the heartland of the electrical musical spectrum, Britain has made it’s mark. House music may have been spawned from the African-American homosexual warehouses of Detroit, but it remained niche. In Britain, ‘clubbing’ has been a journey of a nation, from clandestine motorway caves through to Balearic amphitheatres, ending in the bedroom’s of a nation of disc jockeys. The rest of the world has undoubtedly taken this and run with it, but not without Britain retaining some influence and indeed its slice of the fiscal pie.
The most fascinating part of the commodity of clubbing is its innate and constant desire to oscillate, to skew the correlations and to try as best it can to defer any lasting assumptions. Gurning in a Ford fiesta, sexy pink fluffy boots, hooded drum and bass, YSL shirted garage, urban outfitted in a park – clubbing paradigm shifts have somewhat been a reaction to their predecessor as much as their own entity.
So where are we now? Everywhere and nowhere. The internet is a hub that has bred a creative in all of us, but then a haggard old raver would argue that the immediacy that comes with the accessibility is to the detriment of experience. In the eye’s of the Porcelain Gentleman, clubbing is now akin to a supermarket. If champagne, private tables and music branded ‘funky’ is one’s bag, this is no longer the luxury of petty Essex drug pushers but available off the shelf on aisle four for £20. If one prefers clubbing slightly more ‘real’ in a venue that pays homage to its run down origins, than gone are the days of meeting a chap called ‘keef’ by the piss soaked vending machines of suburban rail station’s and instead aisle 7 has it for £15.
And thus, without having to even leave my bed, my tickets were bought. I was heading to Wapping.
Originally, the location of a nightclub space would be less down to choice and more down to the result of a session shadow boxing with the laws surrounding noise pollution. Ministry of Sound, for example, may now be some sugar coated global brand of pop, but lest we forget its origins are sandwiched between empty office blocks by a roundabout in Elephant and Castle. Fabric is a space that sits by a functioning meat distribution market, where noise through the night is an assumption, and indeed fallen comrades like ‘the cross’ were tucked in an archway in a destitute part of Kings cross long before the overlords of gentrification even knew it as a place on the map.
In today’s climate however, one get’s the impression that the shoddy warehouses in rundown parts of cities that gave nightclubs their infamy is now less an exercise of an elimination process surrounding police evasion and more a knowing selection to continue to recreate and prolong the nightclubbing ‘vibe’. As a result they reside in industrious areas, on the fringes of urban development, far enough away from amenities such as a mini cab office’s to ensure at the 4pm crossroads of vacating the premises, one is far more likely to stay the extra hour awaiting the suns appearance, before then taking the long walk into the unknown valley of the Brownfield site. Wapping studios, located between a place called ‘Machine Mart’ and an Esso garage, epitomises such a venue.
As for the inside and the ‘clubbing’ itself, the well refined nightclub combination of noisy darkened room, smoking area and semi lit bar section where people reveal their inner thoughts was there, with people circulating between the three and stationing themselves in one dependent on where they were in the drug ‘ingest, digest and profess’ cycle.
Between the pushing, the queues, the narc addled faces, the diluted drinks and the constant referral to when it was better, I came to realise that ‘clubbing’, much like Triathlons, Games Workshop and Heroin, is something one must truly feel and want, otherwise, as it looks to outsiders, it seems like a ghastly way to spend one’s time. Yet to those with whom an affiliation to the world of clubbing is a key lifestyle choice, the pitfalls to the untrained eye are the magical moments with which the collective treasure. Queuing is simply an indicator of a rammed and thus desired moment of music. Pushing is part of the overwhelming sense that spacial boundaries are being transcended in a haze of Ecstasy, and the drug addled faces are those to which social etiquette has been abandoned and thus is a new best mate in waiting.
Whatever one’s take is on standing in a dark warehouse at 3am listening to the throb of a drum machine may be, it will always remain infinitely more preferable to the alternative of a poorly lit late night chain bar pumping out garishly remixed chart music and full of people desperately trying to ensure that the final line of their Monday morning life affirming Limerick involves the words of some piteous copulation with the opposing sex.
Like some ill thought out Dickensian parody, Wapping studios is very much a ‘tale of two toilets’, split firmly along the lines of which sex you profess to be for your moment of bathroom visitation.
For men, there is, in fairness, choice – though one must appreciate it is simply a decision based on some wanton desire to vacate a frying pan and immerse yourself in a faecal fire; Inside the venue is the fast moving tiny urinal conveyor belt where a testosterone fuelled atmosphere thrusts one into the overly exposed realm with which stage fright is a reality that one cannot indulge (no pictures of this could be taken under threat of expulsion from the premises). The other is a small gathering of portaloo’s located in the smoking area. Here the concept of stage fright is eradicated, making way for isolation and as a result apathy to the way one must conduct themselves. Portaloo’s always remind the Porcelain Gentleman of what would happen in a world without consequence, if no-one ever knew it was you. Urine in the streets, loo roll on the lampposts and generally a total disregard for your fellow man as you never have to look them in the face and explain why you refuse to flush.
For women the offering is far more luxurious, combined with an attention to cleanliness that is unparalleled in any bathroom experience I have faced. Now granted the initial caveat is steep – an endless, non moving queue that requires women to adopt some level of ‘strategy’ behind their chosen moment to frequent the restroom throughout the evening.
However once you have made the decision to commit, not only are you then treated to facilities that are far beyond the average warehouse club night fare…
….but also the assurance of upmost asepsis that comes with a cleaning lady who cleans the toilet after every, single, use.
Scan the timetable of the rota placed on the back of any bathroom door across any land and you shall never see one structured with such a level of frequency.
The Porcelain Gentleman:
Upon vacating the premises the Porcelain Gentleman came to realise that the heart of clubland and the engine behind it’s success, comes down to the fact that everyone, not just those making the money, but all personnel involved, wants it desperately to work, to be the best night ever, to litter their memories with hedonistic pleasure that continues to sparkle long into old age when simply frequenting your local becomes a chore.
In restaurants, gigs, office spaces, train stations….the floor always seems sticky with trepidation, with people waiting for the inevitable moment when all their scepticism bears fruit and something goes wrong. But at a rave it can seem that an opposing force is in play, people are willing to overlook the queue and the poo simply to preserve an experience that lulls them into believing they are on the forefront of some important debauched epoch defining moment.
But I cant let this sentiment dilute the reality (3/10 (+1 for the cleaner))