The warmth hit you in the face when you went in.
Not just the heat and the sweat, but the warmth of the people; sharing smiles, sharing hugs, sharing drinks, sharing drugs. A sense of belonging, a feeling of community, a feeling of being home...
This was the London clubbing scene for me in the early 2000’s. I had just come back from my first season as a worker in Ibiza, and felt that same sense of eclectic and electric atmosphere on the London dancefloors, as I had in DC10, Amnesia and Space. Prior to Ibiza, I was at University in Southampton, who’s rave scene at the time was small and amazing. Clubs like Rhino and Junk hosted some wicked nights, not to mention the infamous High Tide boat parties, it was here I first thought about trying my hand at DJing after becoming obsessed by electronic music in all its forms, on and off the dancefloor.
After the season in Ibiza, I returned to London, for what I see as my clubbing heyday. Spending most weekends on the dancefloor at Fabric or The End, Followed by Jaded at AKA (The Ends smaller afterparty venue). TBar, Public Life and Plastic People were regular haunts too. At that time, the best DJ’s could be found playing across the capital every weekend, often in small venues, where a feeling of community and love felt universal on the dancefloor, I liked to imagine it was similar to the Acid House Vibes of the late 80’s and early 90’s, despite being there in spirit, I was not there physically to compare. Parties like 2020Vision, Mulletover, SecretSundaze, Jaded, Circo Loco, Ketoloco, Fuse, Superfreq and the numerous ‘secret’ warehouse parties all had bookers that you trusted, often putting together line ups of lesser known names alongside more well known DJ’s, with clubbers trusting their choices and being open to hearing new sounds and making new friends. We often went out not even knowing or caring who was playing, but knowing whoever it was, it would be good. And I felt totally comfortable going out on my own too, knowing I would be adopted for the night by a friendly crew and was even known to have the odd dance off.
As a young clubber newly immersed in the scene, I was hooked. That feeling of being at one with the music, the crowd and the DJ is like nothing else. Some say that that feeling is harder to find these days, for numerous reasons, but it can be found and I truly believe that it will return. After the crazy year we have had, I really hope a summer of love is upon us, and a return to spaces we can dance, hug, and feel truly free, putting our differences aside and becoming one.
We need it now more than ever, and I hope it happens soon.