Saturday, December 22, 2007

Christmas in England

Have tripped down the rabbit hole. Here in England for Christmas, and spent first jet-lagged weekend at a free party, properly sprinkled with happy fairy dust and ear-scorching techno beats.

Oh, you ask, do they still throw these free-party raves in London, then?

Yes, love, they do. And they go something like this, just as they did 5-10 years ago: yer mate tells you there's a party planned for Saturday, wait for details, you'll get a text. And then the organisers send word that they've busted into an abandoned Sunbeam Corp. plant in Acton, and the mob descends on the empty industrial building, hoodies, dreads, floppy jeans, girls n boys n boys n girls, no commercials, no branding, no cameras, no bouncers, and a minimum of security at the door, not a single cheap authority figure's jacket in sight, no sticks, no tasers.

The sound has assaulted your ears, painfully, even before you've entered Sunbeam, but in the main hall there's a crowd round the sound deck and speakers because this is where the party is, and off your head as you is, you want to be near the sound. In the center of the light and the smoke, and never mind the dark hooded boys wandering in the back of the cavernous space, don't really want to know what they're doing and you just want to be near the light, the music, the party & the people & the light, the light, the light.

You take a break, drift upstairs and past heaving faces in the stairwell, oh the humanity, descending into a Hieronymous Bosch hell or is it heaven, but not sure that you should seek eye contact considering the state you're in. Christ this place is dirty, and keep your eyes closed when you go to the toilets. For a change, it's lovely to see drug deals conducted so openly, which slakes one's curious thirst, but still you do make friends on the dance floor, Virginie the beautiful French girl and Kojo from Ghana, who are also there for the light and the music.

It may just be that you're feeling all loved up, but these are two of the most beautiful people you've ever met, and you're lit up by Virginie's devil nostrils and freshwater pearly teeth, and Kojo's tender nature so clearly above the brooding darkness of this transient squatters' ball. Two of the most gorgeous people you've ever met, and then you go and lose the freakin' phone number for Virginie, don't you?, that she's scribbled on a scrap of paper and you shoved in your graywool coat pocket. And now they're lost to you forever and you can only fantasise about them, Virginie's swaying moves and slouchy jumper on the dance floor, Kojo's gentle touch as he wipes the soot off a drunk boy's puss, and in return, headed back to Glen's flat near Hackney at noon, all sleeping on the train, you suddenly wake up at Bethnal Green and dash out of the car without a goodbye to him, asleep beside you.

Back at the flat, you sleep for 16 hours, eat a good meal with some lager from the off-licence, and you catch a cold.

On to the next stop, a sane and civilised place in the English countryside, where little girls decorate Christmas trees and men in tweed caps take their dogs for a walk.