Life: Raving, Red Stripe and Reminiscing

From my late teens to early thirties, I couldn’t get enough of going out.  My weekly routine started on a Thursday at a late night bar, Friday and Saturday night clubbing, and Sunday all day drinking –  purely because it was a Sunday. Monday, and particularly Tuesday, generally feeling pretty shabby, Wednesdays had a slight sense of normality about them, and then back on it again, because it was Thursday.

So far removed from my routine 20 years later of yoga, eight hours sleep, regular meals and the occasional glass of fizz. Today I gain as much pleasure being in bed by 2300 with a good book as I did queuing for hours in the rain to get into a club or a rave.

My clients are mostly my age and often a song will come on a playlist or the radio during an appointment which sparks a memory – albeit blurry –  of the decadent lives we used to live. Sleep deprivation, lack of nutritional food, in fact, a general malaise when it came to wellbeing, the rite of passage that is ‘the clubbing years’.  We were the first ravers, we danced to acid house and floated through the 1990 Summer of Love.

We were the generation that stuffed ourselves into small cars and drove around the countryside looking for clues in phone boxes, which led us to lose our minds dancing around a field in cycling shorts blowing on whistles. We sweated beyond recognition in badly ventilated warehouses, not concerned in any way that in the next room the floor had just collapsed. DJs were gods and we prayed to them with our ‘hands in the air,’ ‘reaching for the lasers,’ begging for just ‘one more choon.’ Pills and Red Stripe were the usual bounty for a 90’s clubber, a tub of Vicks, an overpriced bottle of water and 20 Marlborough Lights in your handbag.

A couple of weeks ago I found myself in an orderly queue with a legitimate ticket to see the legends that are Mike Pickering and Graham Park ‘spin the wheels of steel,’ alongside a symphony orchestra with their show, Haçienda Classical.

NB: My handbag contained none of the above.

There can’t have been an available babysitter that night in the whole of town; 1000+ middle-aged, middle-class ravers, re-living their 20s. Every track gloriously taking us back to a time before mortgages, mobile phones, glamping and prosecco.  There we were, once again, ‘putting our hands in the air’ and getting a sweat on.  So grateful we had chosen seating instead of standing and weren’t too far from the loo.

A few days later I was with a client, one of those I secretly refer to as a Superwoman.  Most of my clients are Superwomen, they keep their families alive, have jobs or run their own businesses, don’t get much sleep, but still, manage to keep fit and have great social lives. The aforementioned Superwoman had also been at Haçienda Classical. We reminisced on the evening and the debauchery of our mid-twenties.

Midway through her appointment, her boys were deposited back into her care by a tall, dark, handsome man. A tall dark handsome man I recognised.
Who is he?
Why do I think I know him?
He recognised me too I could see him scanning his brain, dipping into the dark recesses of his memory…Who is she?
And both of us silently wondering: Have I slept with you?

Maybe it was just recent events and conversations dredging up memories of distant times. If I’m honest – and I’m sure I’m not alone here – there are a few blurry moments, with a few blurry guys. But was this tall, dark, handsome father of three one of them?

Thankfully not. Transpires he owns a local deli. Phew! Awkward moment averted by the mutual admiration of Superwoman and me for his homemade pasta. It was only his lasagne I had tasted.

As much as I enjoyed my clubbing years, and I wholly believe that we should regret nothing, I wonder how much damage I did to my mind and my body. Mentally I could feel the effects of smoking, drinking and recreational drug taking, and in my early 30s, I started to clean up my act.

But there was a lot to be said for the random conversations and friendships that were made in the girls’ toilets of a sweaty club. Of sharing a ‘cheeky half’ with your mate. Of going back to someone’s house until the early hours – drinking tea and talking drivel.

The friendships I have today with the people I collected from those hazy days are some of my strongest. They may have been built on the unstable foundations of an ‘all-nighter,’ but they have, unlike many of my brain cells, stood the test of time. Long may they, and the odd trip back to the Old Skool, continue.

This article also appeared in The Huffington Post

 

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