‘Toilets represent a temporary escape from the noise of glaring eyes and invasive hands. With unimaginably dirty surfaces and queues longer than is reasonable, all it usually takes is a small compliment to spark animated conversation with another woman and her friends.’
This^ is from an article (on the essential gal-dem blog) named ‘The Joy and Escapism of Club Toilets’. The writer mentions that, apparently, men’s toilets lack this kind of vibe. I can confirm this. A neat example of this can be found in The Pickle Factory, one of London’s most reliably positive clubs (which is really saying something in this city, where my girlfriend once got called a pikey and asked what her pay bracket was, simply because she was wearing a backpack on the dancefloor, in Corsica Studios). The Pickle Factory has one major shortcoming; not only are its men’s toilets host to the typical awkward silence, the only men’s cubicle has no lock. However, this does have the advantage of providing a nice conversation starter; ‘would you mind watching the door whilst I’m in there?’ ‘Yeah no worries mate.’ Mate! I can see what that writer meant, having a chat in the toilets is lovely. He goes in, I stand next to the door, and his mate comes out, wearing a languid facial expression, a low-buttoned, cream coloured shirt, and an inverted crucifix necklace. I ask him what the necklace means.
‘Uhhhh, nothing?’ He sighs, ‘I mean, I’m queer, so for someone like me to wear it, I guess it’s anti-establishment.’ I worry that I’ve been a bit invasive, and - as I so often do - go into word vomit, saying that I was just intrigued by his look, that I liked its ambiguity. He raises an eyebrow, and I say that, well, you can usually guess someone’s background from their outfit (very questionable statement), I can’t read him at all, at which point his mate pipes up from the cubicle ‘he’s an Australian twat.’ We laugh, the cubicle opens, I head in and he heads downstairs into the music, which has reached peak intensity over the last few hours.
This peak is really hard to describe. Well no, it’s easy to describe; techno, drum’n’bass, various glitched out hybrids of electronic dance music. But that doesn’t get at the bizarre, convulsing, magnetic energy of that room. Records (such as the Plaid track above) that are simultaneously hard to dance to and yet impossible to resist, music that both insults and seduces, that twirls you around like a ballerina and kicks you in the chest like a horse. Planet Euphorique is no glassy moon, it’s a rabidly evolving ball of hot, angry lava, just barely encased in mud.
The night began conventionally enough. It had sold out online, meaning that a few dancers had turned up at 11pm to ensure entry via the few tickets kept for the door, and upon entry dotted themselves around the edge of the room. One guy sat, eyes closed and cross-legged on one of the foot-high platforms at each side of the dancefloor (a simple but great feature of the club; allowing people to briefly experience the perspective of a tall person).
The DJs (playing b2b2b all night) wasted little time in leaving ambience behind, sliding into a squidgy, fidgety bop. A grey hoodie-clad dude in the middle casted a tentative around the room before throwing some bouncey shapes, as the beats swell with tension and complexity, skittering drums, scrambled vocals, at one point a spooky Romanian-sounding organ, then - for a few tracks - percussion takes over, before synths are slipped back into the mix. But like I said, this just doesn’t quite describe the music, listen to the track below and you’ll see what I mean, it’s lean and minimal and percussive, but also twisted. Even in prettier moments, the beats carried a gradually developing tension.
Eventually there was even this track, ‘BoDiEs’, taken from Bored Lord’s Nu Metal Toolz. Yep, that’s right, Nu Metal, as in like Limp Bizkit/Linkin Park, that kinda sound, cut up into a brutal techno smash.
Casual fans of Ciel (who dropped said track) hoping for a smooth night of ornamental electro in the vein of her breakout release (or D.Tiffany’s gorgeously smooth 2018 track AK) may well have been pretty confused at this point, particularly considering the night’s title. I didn’t notice any disappointment in the crowd though, their mood best summed up by comments the following day on a facebook group dedicated to finding track IDs; ‘Actually unreal vibes wtf’, ‘Insanely great night and beautiful crowd!’
It reminded me of the kind of rock concert where any moshers who fall over are immediately pulled back to their feet, sweat pouring over their beaming grin; the crowd was jubilantly welcoming. No glaring eyes or invasive hands (according to my female companion). At certain points, such as Homemade Weapons’ Retinae, challenging musical moments acted as a crucible, melding members of the crowd together into animated shapes. The most beautiful moment came with the final song, which inspired one of the bouncers to walk onto the dancefloor with arms raised, swaying until the final bar with a massive grin on his face. Not a night for the faint-hearted, and or one that I’ll ever forget.