It sounds daft, but it’s true. Ask most club promoters, and they will tell you that the first weekend in January after NYE is not the rave ghost town that you might assume. In fact, often it’s absolutely jumping. Some of this can be put down to the short-term alcoholism that afflicts many people in our great nation after the holiday period, when they find themselves in a physiological panic whenever the amount of booze in their bloodstream falls below ‘enough to poison a bear’ levels. But there’s another reason. The people who have been out clubbing on NYE for the first time in ages have realised once again just how bloody good it is. They’ve had a clubbing comeback.
Absurd as it may seem to us rave warriors, but there are many reasons why a person might stop clubbing for a while. Death, for example, comes to mind immediately, along with debilitating disease or injury, a posting to a foreign country in pursuit of some failed neo-imperialist gambit to steal oil reserves, and, for a statistically improbable number of our letters page contributors, a spot of Her Majesty’s tastiest porridge, can all serve to break the clubbing flow.
Sometimes people just drift away, lose their taste for it, before being reminded of what they are missing. A really great tune or album can restore your clubbing mojo, with the nagging knowledge that it might sound great on your iPod but you really need to hear it in a club at a level that makes your ears bleed. New, and better, friends can help as well, or purging your life of your most boring acquaintances before they drag you down with them.
Perhaps the most common, and desperately tragic, reason for a clubber letting their rave career slide is cupid’s poison arrow. Love can cleave a clubber from their true path as cleanly as a pair of bolt cutters on a ransom victim’s little toe. Falling for someone who doesn’t like going out is a horrendous, evil perversion, but if it happens to you, don’t despair. The night culture is there to welcome you back into its hot, sticky, embrace.
Whatever the reason for your absence, like a highly tuned athlete returning after an injury, you have to try to ease yourself in gently. Depending on how long you’ve been away, clubland will have changed. There are no breaks nights anymore, for example (try looking under ‘electro house’). There are many weird and wonderful new genres instead, a couple of which are actually worthwhile. Economy cocaine means that Charles M Chang is no longer the preserve of the rich and famous, so expect vastly increased numbers of boring, sniffing people from every social strata. And don’t even get me started on the smoking ban.
A spot of reconnaissance (or better still, a flick through the club country section of this magazine) might be in order to ensure you don’t reappear in clubland as some kind of fashion Rip Van Winkle, all Von Dutch T-shirt, baggy cargo pants and riding on a micro scooter. Bear in mind that you can avoid that ‘oh my god the world has changed and left me behind’ feeling by going to a hard dance night, where you will still hear pretty much the same tunes you remember, in the same order, albeit with slightly different remixes.
The news that Ministry are charging £300 to be taught to DJ by Danny Rampling and Chad Jackson has inspired me to look into setting up my own training camp for returning ravers, complete with guest seminars on aquacrunk and wobble-hop (OK, I made that one up) and a club-themed assault course – a bit like Takeshi’s Castle, only you have to complete it while carrying two vodka and cokes and a warm bottle of Tuborg, plus it’ll be dark and I’m also considering some kind of bouncer/pugil stick element.
In fact, perhaps that’s what one of my old flatmates, recently single, was doing that time I came home from work early and found him in his boxers, dancing in the living room to a Tiësto DVD, pilled off his stupid, grinning, obsequious face. He wasn’t just being an idiot. He was training.
Duncan Dick is Mixmag’s Features Editor. He’s come back so many times it’s as if he never left.