I used to both DJ and promote in and out of Ibiza almost every day, all year round, for ten years. These are my party credentials. I’ve been in the biz for 30 years and I went out even more in my early 20s in London. However Ibiza is the hammer and your brain is the anvil if we are talking about having it. It is also the reason I don’t go out anymore. Not at all. No clubs. Zero.
Well I still DJ now and then, but the idea of actually making arrangements to go as a punter are as rare as a fiver from a Tory. My average has gone from 5 or 6 nights a week to once a year. This blip on my otherwise perfect record of funless sit-ins will not go away, however old and miserable I get though. For people who only really cut loose on New Years this might all seem moot. I am confused as to why I have to do it still. For me still going out is a ‘thing’ I can’t get my head around. Like a very badly knitted jumper.
Don’t get me wrong it’s not cos I don’t like going out. It’s cos I really really do. My issues with going out are the issues of an addict. I can’t be trusted with anything more intoxicating than a lazy wink from a lady. I always arrive first and leave last and it takes me about 4 or 5 days to get back to normal on account of all my glands and important inside bits being so abused they resemble sad little raisins and empty brown condoms.
So I tend to get excited about my yearly release into the community about 6 months prior to it. I gave up years ago trying to recruit anyone else as my friends are all either abroad, terminally normal, kidded up or just dead. Like a proper addict I do it on my own, furtive, shameful and feverish. I do get giddy though. It’s a pass-out handed to myself, from myself with explicit permission to hurt me. It’s a bit like an Australian Christmas.
To be direct it’s Boy’s Own I go to yearly. It’s always Boy’s Own and I will tell you why. It is always good. There are other promotions as auspicious and loads as hip, but none (literally none) been doing it so long, so very well. So if I am going to to go out it had better be good. Better be once-a-year good. I’ve been to all the others at some point and they can’t help being hit-and-miss. They either do it too often or are just victims to the law of averages doubled with diminishing returns. And once it’s pony, why go again? London is a big town. If you are going to win over the pros it had best be special.
First things first. Traditional amongst the Faithful is the Premans. As 90% of the Boy’s Own mob are hardcore London casuals so there is always an element of gang mentality and use of code. A place on the guest list is a ‘Freemans’ , after the old catalogue of mail order clothes and furtive knuckle shuffle at the girdles. Thus the pre-party drink-up is a Pre-mans. Keep up.
Don’t get me wrong I’m not in the gang. I am always outsider in all this and always will be. A bloody northerner. I like it. It makes me feel a bit like David Attenborough. I take my bike over to the Premans. Immediately the light ribbing, accent-copying and shoe criticism starts. I’d be disappointed if it didn’t. It means they like you. Many people can’t handle it. I can see why. It’s part of it all though. There’s no harm meant at all.
London can be oppressive and dark, but sometimes it is all pure glamour and romance. Summer helps, unsurprisingly. As our small crew walks over Southwark bridge on a deathly quiet Glastonbury Saturday it hits. The architecture and river make it special again. It’s the greatest city in the world on nights like these. Crossing the Thames has a strange power sometimes. It’s almost deserted as we thread through the maze underneath the Cannon Street railway bridge. The bankside, pontoons and strips of exposed muck unchanged for hundreds of years despite the surrounding developments. There’s a sense of anticipation and excitement that is particular to weaving through brilliant bits of London looking for the action. Sniffing out the vibe. Nodding to those clearly on their way there too.
We find the cobbled alley and see the queue. Immediately we spot the magnificent Miss Honey Dijon accompanied by Dalston entrepreneur Dan Beaumont. Boy’s Own parties have always been a who’s-who of London faces. Tonight is no different. We’re greeted at the door by original partner in Boy’s Own, Cymon. You’ll know him from his various proper boozers around town. It’s a doff and a curtsey to him and straight in. Formerly ‘Loose Cannons’, a huge city-boy bar, it’s now been taken over by the same owners as the Studio 338 venue south of the river. Now it’s ‘The Steelyard’. It’s a great venue, if not a little high ceilinged, acoustically speaking.
Entering the unassuming door it opens immediately into the best of Victorian grandiose arch work. A long bar is the first welcome sight and forms a sort of natural natter-buffer. A spot to meet and greet before diving in. The tall arches spread left to the huge long main room and fractured right into split level areas and toilets. Didn’t take long to get to the main floor to see legends Farley and Heller. The sound was top notch however, for such a tricky space. It featured twin festival-sized monoliths stage-side. More stacks were placed along the length of the cavern to make up for the difficult roof.
I did a couple of increasingly wonky laps and suddenly noticed that I had no idea who 90% of the handsome turnout were. And most of them were just kids. That is the beauty of these events. A perfect meeting of all the tribes. The previous Boy’s Own I went to with Dixon was a great example. Hundreds of kids being amazed that they weren’t the only ones at it. The numbers for a Glastonbury weekend here on the riverside were strong. The vibe was excellent.
Then the trouble started. The music shifted a gear and it was clear Honey Dijon was at the controls. Straight to the front for this old trooper. Time to get involved. Old-school bumbles like house bricks were abundant and with them came total immersion and loss of all sense of space and time. Or sense of tim.
I know Honey was awesome. I even remember some of her tunes. I have no recollection at all of M.A.N.D.Y. I’m told long after that I was saved by Cymon who prevented me getting thrown out for crimes as-yet unspecified. Apparently security was a bit on-top but they seemed fine to me. Then again the trouble with drugs is everything is ace. Have you ever taken any outside a club environment? You can find meaning and joy in a bowel movement if you are on the right dose. I loved the security. I loved everything about the night. As I came round I recognised old chum Daren Nunes taking the controls for the final push and he really pulled it out of the bag. Man of the match and no mistake. By the last tune I was the president and treasurer of the we-want-some-more club.
I’d literally danced myself sober when stepping out into the tunnel of daylight. I take the bike out specifically to make sure I am encumbered and can’t just hop in a dark taxi to further oblivion. I realised I’d drunk nothing but water for the last 6 hours and didn’t even notice. London was still totally deserted and was looking good in the sun. The leisurely ride back along the Thames, over bridges, through parks and silent backstreets was just another component of the joy.
I could talk about the next 3 days solid without washing or brushing. Managing to watch about a year’s worth of telly in one sitting. Getting emotional watching Glastonbury happiness and Mauve Tuesdays and Black Wednesday …but it’s not like I didn’t know what I was getting into. The entire point of all this was knowing with great precision what was going to happen. ‘Cos if you are a party veteran you do not want to waste a moment of what life is left to you. You have to know it’s going to be good. It’s always good at Boy’s Own. London at it’s best.
Words: Tim Sheridan
Pictures: Nick Ensing
Event: Boy's Own at the Steelyard, London - June 2015
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