16. Kicks Like A Mule – The Bouncer

As previously mentioned, I was eager to experience the world of clubbing from an early age. But despite this pre-teen enthusiasm, I didn’t enter my first proper nightclub until I was a disappointingly legal eighteen years old. Our regular Lower School Discos not only didn’t sell intoxicating substances but were horrendously uncool to actually dance at (unless it was with Andrew Tomlinson – and I had zero chance of managing that). The Spanish holiday resort club in 1998 was similarly unsatisfying: filled with dry ice, flashing lights and no music, it was ghostly empty save for me and my mother. I sat in silence for half an hour, sipping a watered-down Malibu and coke, worrying about my GCSE results. By the time I could pass for eighteen I was avoiding chart-friendly house music at all costs.

The most notorious (and only) nightclub within staggering distance was Discotheque Royales (formerly Regals, formerly the Regal Cinema, now part of a national franchise called ‘Liquid’), which played exactly the kind of music I hated. Or so I assumed, based on the music tastes of the kids at school who attended it regularly and hogged the radio in the common room. UK Garage? Ibiza Classix? Yuck! Surely there couldn’t be any possible merit in this music if Leanne and Rachel liked it? I definitely wasn’t going to queue up in the cold to spend the evening dancing alongside them. I resolutely stayed at home and played the guitar along to my Radiohead albums.

Then two wonderful things happened: I acquired i) a group of older friends who enjoyed socialising (including a Proper Boyfriend, blimey) ii) a photocard driving license with which I could prove my right to purchase intoxicating liquor. Many happy evenings and weekends were spent in the pub getting sozzled, and it so happened that one of these evenings led us to walk past the doors of Discotheque Royales.

We decided it would be hilarious to venture inside and see what all the fuss was about, even if it was just to see the look on Leanne and Rachel’s faces when they saw us invade their territory. The mysterious world of proper clubbing seemed within my reach for the first time! There was no queue, and even if it was really dreadful we would happily take advantage of the 2-for-1 Vodka + Red Bull offer. We walked up to the entrance and smiled at the bouncer.

The bouncer did not smile back.

“You’re not going in with trainers on.”

“They’re not trainers, they’re Vans! They’re not even white!”

“Sorry, mate.”

I thought I could hear Leanne and Rachel laughing at us from deep inside the club. How on earth could we get turned away from a sh1thole like Royales? Why had I tried to intrude on a world where I didn’t belong? Surely trainers are the optimum dancing shoes? The unfairness of it all! Now I would never hear RnB, Hard House, UKG spun by DJ Mikey C. At that moment I knew exactly how Kicks Like A Mule felt. My name wasn’t just absent from this list, but all lists. We trudged away, miserable…

…then we remembered we lived in fvcking LONDON fer chrissakes’ and there was nothing to stop us jumping on the tube straight into Soho, dancing to Britpop all night and swigging Smirnoff Ices until we felt sick and had to make the 2-hour journey home on the N207, trainers and all. In your FACE, Leanne.

Watch the video to ‘The Bouncer’ below (only up to 1min 48secs though as it’s kind of buggered after that point):