In the late '80s my buddies - Nigel and Frankie - and myself were in a musical outfit known as Exquisite. Nigel and I wrote all the songs, I did all the keyboards, percussion and drum programming, Nigel did all the guitars and occasional keyboarding, and Frankie, whose real name was Nick, and who bore a striking resemblance to Patrick Swayze, did the backing vocals. My sister Carolyn, AKA Muff, was our cheerleader/manager/roadie/sound tech. We would rehearse in a place called Shrubcote Hall (no longer there) and we recorded demos in my bedroom and living room. We played exactly one show, at a party, and, despite the crowd of partiers being more intent on drinking and smooching than anything else, it was killer. Our yellow ex-GPO van (a Dodge Spacevan which we nicknamed "The Dodgy Van") which we had emblazoned with our logo in black spray paint on both sides, was not only a tour bus, it was our everything van. Nigel had put a bunch of carpet and cushions in the back, and occasionally slept in it. We went everywhere in it. We drove to Somerset in it to record a session. We once drove up to London to an art opening. Nigel worked for a picture framer and got some free passes. We made out with girlfriends in the back of it. On more than one occasion we went to the Crypt.
The Crypt was/is a nightclub in Hastings, East Sussex. It was in the basement of a place called The Electric Grape. It has played host to a lot of bands over the years, including Coldplay, The Fall, and Furniture. It was about the best nightclub available to us at the time, living as we did in Tenterden, Kent, a picturesque place that is actually a town but city folk referred to it as a village. We Tenterdonians loved to correct the tourists. There were precisely three night spots, other than pubs, which were within easy driving distance. Dusty's, in Ashford, was crap, or at least it might have been OK if it hadn't been in Ashford and full of Ashford types - offspring of East End London's postwar overspill. English rednecks, basically. The Oasis in Rye was again, Ok, but a bit boring. The Crypt was better in that it had better beer (Hook Norton) and it was in Hastings, by the sea, with a beach - the perfect place to sober up. Nice stiff breeze and the waves crashing, some fast food.... perfect.
We actually had to do that for Nigel one time. He was our driver. He was also broke, and the only thing he'd consumed all day was the beer in The Crypt. We were packed in like sardines, watching a band called The Fires Of Molech (who evidently had listened to too many Sisters Of Mercy and Bauhaus records and now imagined themselves to be Gothic). It got awfully hot in The Crypt with all those bodies in there. After the band finished, it was time to dance. The Crypt was the place where I became comfortable with dancing in public and developed my own sort of style. After a while, I glanced over at Nigel. He was easily visible. Standing nearly six-four with a shock of blond hair made lighter by the sun, in a black T-shirt he looked like the pint of Guinness in his hand, leaning against the wall looking all cool. Putting out the rockstar vibe. As we danced I saw him slowly sink lower and lower until he was sitting on the floor with his knees up. Never spilt a drop, mind. We quickly picked him and his beer up and took him out of the club into the cold night air. I could see steam rising from Frank's shoulders as we stepped along the pavement. We went to the nearest fast food place, which happened to be Kentucky Fried Chicken, and ordered up a load of grub, took it to the beach with us and made sure Nigel was fed and sober. He was our ride home.
Those were the days. Great times.
And what is my reasoning for writing about this today? Well may you ask.
mp3's. Or rather, the collection of CD-Rs I have on a spindle. Full of mp3s from my many years of burning CDs. I was going through them, and listening to stuff from those days, lots of House and Techno. I started dancing around the room. I was amazed at my ability to keep going, given that I'm chubby, don't really exercise, and am 44 years old. My dance style is built around the two halves of the body, upper and lower. This is because of my asthma which I've had to varying degrees since I was quite young. What I do is get my groove on, then if I get out of breath, instead of stopping, I keep my feet more or less stationary, keep a little bounce in my knees and sway my upper torso, and do something with the shoulders and arms which is less tiring than hopping about. Then when I have my breath back I start doing stuff with the legs again. I was dancing around, thinking firstly how I still had the moves, the old magic (yes, I know - self-delusion is a wonderful thing, isn't it?), and also I was thinking about those days. The sounds of Mr. Fingers and Lil Louis came flooding back to me. Let there be House!