There are many signs that tell you you are no longer 21: you have in-depth discussions about vacuum cleaners, you begin to understand what a mortgage is, you mutter to yourself ‘Oh, put a coat on’ at the sight of scantily-clad 21 year-olds shivering in town centres – but surely one of the most conclusive signs that you are no longer 21 is walking into an empty club you last went to when you were 21, realising it’s the most terrible place in the world, and then getting lost in it.
That’s what my chums and I did last night.
We went to what now calls itself the Kingston Hippodrome, or The Works if you’re a tiny bit older, or Volts if you’re practically ancient.
After immediately realising that a) the place smelt like an infected foot, b) it was empty, and c) we’d paid £4 to experience a) and b), we set about trying to find our friends who were in the place called ‘upstairs’.
This is not as easy as it sounds. You see, we could see the stairs, but we just couldn’t get to them. Do you realise how many barriers and partitions a nightclub has? When it’s packed full of people and you’re drunk, you just bounce off other bodies when you need to get somewhere. But when it is totally deserted and you are not drunk, it’s much more difficult.
So we tottered through this barrier, past that partition, up this little step, down that little step, all while the DJ was enthusiastically playing drum & bass (I wasn’t confident enough to write ‘drum ‘n’ bass’ there), and all with the stench of rotting foot in our nostrils. (Quite why it smelt so terribly of rotting foot I have no notion. I can only assume that either a) there was the decomposing corpse of a lost reveler in the air conditioning, or b) the carpet had never, ever, ever, ever, ever been cleaned. Ever.)
We eventually found the stairs, found our friends, bopped around quietly for a while, then had a loud discussion on the landing as to which flight of stairs was the best route back down. I mean, really. Have you ever stood in a club and said things like ‘No, these stairs are more direct’ or ‘But we don’t know where those go!’ or ‘I really feel that this is the best way back to the ground floor’? Of course you haven’t. Unless you’re not 21 anymore, in which case you may well have done.
We chose the wrong stairs, of course. We ended up back in the lobby when we’d meant to end up in the footish hellhole that was the dancefloor, but we’d chosen the wrong stairs, Gromit. Had to make a U-turn. Trooped across the foot graveyard of the dancefloor, through impossibly cool people much younger than us who were bopping away, seemingly unperturbed by the smell of foot death that hung like an atomic cloud. Maybe their 18 year-old noses couldn’t smell it. Maybe they just smelt fun.
I left soon after. At 1.15am, it was time for my bed. I’m sure the 21 year-olds continued to bop around in this putrid foot pit until the early hours, whereupon they left and went back to Megan’s house because her parents were away, and they bought shed loads of booze and drank it at Megan’s until 6am, at which time they decided to have a huge drug-fuelled orgy on her parents’ Habitat kitchen table, which broke while Lauren was trying to do something peculiar to Jack and Dan at the same time, and next door called the police when they heard Megan crying, and most of the revelers escaped and ran off into the dawn, while Megan was left with a house full of used condoms, piles of vomit in corners, an expensive broken table, the impending wrath of her parents, and an acute feeling of shame and emotional malaise, but I didn’t do any of that because I’m not 21 anymore, I just went home, had a piece of toast, and went the hell to bed.