Another university assignment, another break from my social life. Nights spent in with a laptop and a stack of academic texts are interrupted by daydreaming about far more fun evenings spent out and about in the city. Once upon a time I did not trail home at 7 or 8pm, shattered with nothing but an evening of reading articles of the empowerment of women in developing countries ahead of me.
When I lived in the Accidental flatshare, fresh from my university days (most of which revolved around watching Neighbours and staggering from one ridiculously cheap gin and tonic to another) we made the most of every free evening. Not a single Friday or Saturday night went by without some form of 'we don't have to go to work tomorrow' celebration. Now this may have had something to do with the fact that one of the Accidental flatmates worked for a well-known champagne house at the time so we had a plentiful, and pretty high class, alcohol supply. Any remotely exciting event was met with the sound of a cork popping. Seriously, any excuse. A bottle was once opened to mark the momentous completion of a first draft of one of my essays. (Needless to say, our neighbours were not fond of us.)
Fridays in the office would be punctuated by a series of rapid-fire emails between us Accidental flatmates as we wound each other up for a houseparty that night. We would already have dancetunes crashing through our iPod headphones to get us in the mood as we sat at our desks, we'd email all day about outfits and when half five finally came you couldn't see us for dust. Once home, a huge pot of pasta would be whipped up (excellent for soaking up alcohol) and the first drinks would be poured. Bedroom doors were propped open and three CD players would crank up, creating an unholy mash-up in the corridors and hallway. Each of us would try on the majority of our own wardrobes before raiding those of each other. The over-excited process of preparation to go out was often more fun than the hours which followed when we had finally left the house. (And it frequently continued as guests arrived, then usually joined in.)
We had plenty of options for places to drink and boogie where we lived, with many of the city's hotspots for the young and loaded within easy reach. Generally these were eschewed however in favour of nearer and cheaper venues. As drinking out and about in London is pretty expensive, we'd usually do our drinking at home then simply head out to dance off our hyped-up energy. Our "local" club of choice was Putney's "Fez Club"; a classic basement club that usually got hot and sweaty pretty fast. A favourite amongst the post-uni London immigres, one stood a good chance of a somewhat embarrassing encounter with someone you recognised from a weekly lecture on the flashing dancefloor. If we were feeling adventurous we would hop in a cab to Fulham and wriggle on to the minimal floorspace of "Sugar Hut", where a guitarist and a steel drummer thrashed out 90s old skool tunes.
Up towards Chelsea was "Mare Moto", Italian restaurant by day and monied venue full of permatanned European lovelies splashing Daddy's cash on overpriced beverages by night. They could spend as much as they liked on their drinks however but the club beneath is nothing special. The dancefloors in the vast majority of London clubs will always be overcrowded, sweaty, sticky and strewn with shards of broken glass. And gone midnight the music will always revert from club tunes to the 80s rock numbers to which everyone just loves to scream tunelessly along.
Rather than heading west from our flat we could head east and south out to Clapham, to the notorious "Infernos". I am firmly convinced that this horrendous place was only so popular with our university friends as it was the closest thing we could find to the grotty student club of our undergraduate lives, where sweat used to drip from the ceiling but the drinks were delightfully cheap. Infernos reminds me of an enormous working mens club. (By which I mean the space itself was huge - it wasn't a club full of surprisingly large men.) Depressed, and probably deaf, fish swim backwards and forwards in vast tanks next to the bars. The carpet is permanently sodden from years of spilled vodka and cokes; after my first visit I vowed never to return wearing a pair of shoes I actually cared about.
By the early hours of the morning we would be headed home to collapse into our beds, probably still strewn with earlier discarded going out ensembles, make-up and odd shoes. The next morning, the flat would be silent. And then someone's phone would go, and it would be another of the us, calling from our beds to compare hangovers. Someone would volunteer to make the tea and we would congregate (like victims in a horror film, still in yesterday's slept-in make-up) in the tidiest bit of the house to relive the gossip and drama of the previous night. Then, when we could put it off no longer, we would crank up the CD players once more and tackle the clean-up operation.