One of the less fun things about clocking up another birthday is the dawning realisation that each visit to a club could be the last. As people slow down, the sofa or bar becomes more appealing, especially when weighed against the demands of an all-nighter.
Suddenly it is less certain that the weekend will be spent dancing to great music anywhere outside the confines of your own room. Another downer is the wry observation that, if – like me – your first experience of the nightlife was back in the mid-nineties, you are maybe sharing a dance floor with people who weren’t even born then. Close behind comes the realisation that dearly loved tunes are approaching their 20-year anniversary. Sobering isn’t the word.
But before I got this jaded, the first music I lost my heart to in a darkened club was probably drum ‘n’ bass, except that it wasn’t called that yet. Lucky enough to be in the right place at the right time, I headed out each weekend with friends from my town and others we had barely heard of.
Although the jungle raves and clubs we frequented were usually located in unglamorous warehouses a million miles from the nearest tube station, hearing sounds like this made all the adventures in getting there and back worthwhile. That said, I advise fast-forwarding to 01:34 for the good stuff, as the intro is a little over-epic:
Again luckily, just as me and my clubbing associates were tiring of the grunginess of drum ‘n’ bass, which might have caused a premature end to the fun, along came UK garage with the perfect excuse to get glammed up and give it another go.
The soul and joy of tunes like this made it impossible to think of settling for Saturday nights in front of the TV just yet:
Later, as the age at which mortgages and nappies take many away from the joys of dancing all night approached, I instead got another ‘second’ wind.
Spend any length of time clubbing and you begin to see how the influences refresh themselves. Those earlier beats meld into something else, sounding at once familiar and brand new. Journalists like to name genres, crown scene leaders and herald yet another bold dawn for UK dance music, but for the enthusiasts all that matters is that the music delivers. When it is this good, there is little else to compete:
So instead of going gentle into that good night, I prefer to take my chances. Planning to get in as much club-time as I can before the knees give out and a glance at my ID from the bouncers declares me too old to enter, rather than the opposite.
That I resolved to do this at about 4.30 am on Saturday in the main room of Womb in Tokyo, whilst listening to this fella spin should not cause you to doubt my commitment:
Here’s to a few more years of journeys home in the dawn with ringing ears.