Staying in town is the new getting out of town don't you know?
The Smack started out just as a little venue to play in Whitstable when we weren’t out playing anywhere else. Most weekends, of course, there’d be parties to attend and DJ at, parties to organise equipment for, friend’s parties to go to and fellow DJ’s gigs to support.
The joy of checking a new club or sound system or DJ out was usually enough to guarantee getting the old bones out of town and exploring new spaces. But, I got to tell you, these days I actually prefer to play at the Smack with a few close friends. Eschewing travel brings smiles to the eyes. How can one's attitude change from one extreme to the other?
A walk home or a walk round to a friend’s house for a little mix up after the pub; lovely. Staying in town is the new getting out of town don't you know. I never thought I would ever tire of travelling up to London or over to France or wherever . As the old bones start to feel the weariness of the decades and a late night seems anytime after 10pm, these days, the fact that I can have a hours nap an hour before I go on the decks is a godsend they never tell you about aging.
Now it’s OK to still be humping and packing sound gear into vans or into the back of cars, to arrive at venues early and to spend lots of time carefully setting everything up before gazing at the immense stretch of time hanging out before you and to envisage the end of the evening which can be, sometimes, 12, 15 or more hours away and think Christ this is going to be a long night before someone will say 'shall we go down the pub?' then and you go 'yeah, lets' and you realise it’s only 6.30pm and you’ll probably be pissed by 10pm and wankered by 4am when you’re due on the decks but despite all the time and the time for abuse they forgot about that singular moment, which is the best bit of the night if you’ve suffered any excess and are stuck in London with a hangover or worse and that is ‘a couple of hours in the back of the van’.
Now you got to make sure the van is parked well away from the party after you have unloaded things to avoid that sad, sleepless inducing thudding vibration of sheet metal panels that thunder to every beat of the sub bass. Now a sleeping bag will do but a blow up mattress is better and many the time I have rued the day that a sleepless shuffle on the floor with no support has interfered with my focus whilst DJing.
So, rig set up, a few beers, a bit of a dance and chat and still hours to go before my slot at 4am. Idea! Get a few hours. Comfortably in the van, bag out, alarm set, eyes shut, bliss. 3am the alarm goes off. 'Where the fuck am I? Oh, yeah, in the van'. Half an hour later I slope in to the back of the venue, lean on the wall and listen to the DJ who is on so I get some idea about how I’m going to follow him, usually him, 99% him, rarely her, never her. Even if it is her she has so much more work to do; but more on that topic at another time.
By the time I’ve woken up and got a beer in my hand it’s time to go on. I go on do my thing; that only ever seems to last a blink of the eye then it’s all over; my reason to live, the thing that motivated me to get out in the first place; gone. What now? I talk to the others in the group and the party finishes at 8am, we load the kit up, get out, go home. How did I manage all this? A little kip in the van.
S’even better at home at The Smack in the Bubble. Gig starts at 8pm so kit loaded 7.30 and set up by 8pm. Free bar tab gets a hiding early; as always. Beer only. Always been a beer only bar tab, always seemed fairer that way till that Cottage Pi fucker started ordering shorts behind my back; he just grins as if to say what you going to do about it fatherfucker? I don't do anything but he knows I hate it.
Gig is so short there's no time for any kip so I push the boat out and do it all straight through till 12 midnight. What a fucking trooper! 10 minutes to pack the kit away then a gentle stroll round to Si’s house usually to upset his neighbours again. I’ve stopped going round to his now because I get upset if other people get upset and his neighbour the other night went absolutely ballistic. We were all round there for Kate D’s birthday celebrations Saturday gone. It was one of them affairs which they say starts at 4pm but I didn’t get to till 6pm because, guess what, I was having a nap because I get up so bastard early these days, around 6am, that I’m absolutely fucked 10 hours later. My brain doesn’t know it’s a Saturday, of course, and as I wake at 6am every morning for work I inevitably wake at 6am on Saturday and Sunday as well. So my girlfriend is going on Friday night 'I’m really looking forward to a lie in on Saturday morning' and I’m going 'yeah that’ll be great' because I’m not sure if she is using ‘a lie in’ as a euphemism for sex or whether she really does mean a lie in either way I’m awake at 6am regardless. By the time I’d played till 9pm and had an earful off the agreived neighbour who was shouting loudly despite the fact we had actually turned the music off it was time to go round to the Deco 5 Bar to catch the Brumster and his gang of hoary cohorts to give it a bit of funk welly.
By the time I drank a bottle of £25 bubbly with Kate and Lin, skulked in the corner for a bit then had a nice chat with Rick West the night was over and, as no one turned in a pumpkin but did turn into pissed up drunken monsters lurching around the bar, we went back to BJ’s to play some more records, which I did, till about 1.30 - 2am and I suddenly got all tired and though I need to get home for a nap; either that or drink some more and I wasn’t particularly enamoured with the old drinking malaky at that particular time and actually hanging round an increasingly drunken party seemed anathema to the clear, free thoughts of lightness induced by something far less harmful that the scourge of alcohol.
Grabbing the girlfriend we drove the whole 1.5 miles home where we sat and gorged ourselves on toasted muffins and Harry Hill till 3am and went to bed exhausted. A vainglorious attempt at drunken sex slash cuddle failed on my part as the mind was willing but the flesh was pissed and the room was pitch black and I couldn’t see a fucking thing and only then realised at that moment that sex is probably 50% a visual thing and 50% a mind thing.
A rather restless night then ensued but there is one thing I can guarantee you; I was awake at 6am.
Should have gone back to the party, nah, but instead read everyone’s faeces book entries which regaled self depreciating thanks for looking after the casualties and increasingly bizzare tales of people sleeping in flower beds.