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Memory sticks: Club keepsakes have a very particular power

DC10 fans, Pacha whistles and Space lighters can pack a great punch of emotion

  • Words: Melissa Harrison | Illustration: James Clapham
  • 21 July 2017
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A few months ago I cleared out a kitchen drawer – you know, the drawer of random junk everyone has, home to takeaway menus, birthday cake candles still sticky with icing, broken sunglasses, dead Biros, rubber bands, cling film and obsolete phone chargers. My drawer also yielded an unopened bottle of poppers – sorry, ‘room odouriser’ – a business card for ‘Boss of NOS’ (“Quality nitrous delivered to your door”), a Ministry of Sound VIP fob (no idea), and a Space lighter.

Oh my heart: that Space lighter. Not a crappy plastic job; a metal one, pleasingly stubby with a tactile rubber wrap embossed with that naïvely retro Space logo and the words ‘IBIZA DANCE’ underneath. Unlike the DC10 fan, I can remember everything about how it came into my possession: the year was 2012, me and my friends were at We Love…, and Jeff Mills was playing one of the most extraordinary sets I’ve ever witnessed, tough, uncompromising and totally lacking in anything familiar, the kind of set you have to fully commit to or ship the fuck out. We got on board, and Jeff repaid the commitment; and in the euphoric hours that followed we made a couple of new best friends in the dance and they were so funny and friendly, we had so much in common, it was like we’d been friends for years, we couldn’t believe we hadn’t met each other sooner, we properly loved each other, like really, not just saying it, and they were both so beautiful, and she must have nipped to the Space shop on the way back from the loo because she suddenly presented me with a lighter to say thanks for something I’d given her (you don’t need to know what I’d given her) and we had a group dancefloor hug and it was like hugging your soulmates, really it was beautiful the way dance music can bring people together and help you get in touch with your feelings and connect with humanity on such a meaningful level.

Obviously, we never saw either of the sketchy weirdos again. But I still have the lighter, which has added poignancy as a keepsake now that Space is no more; and while it’s easy to laugh at the chemically induced nonsense we all spout in clubs, the fact is that while that new friendship may not have blossomed, the ability to let down your guard and trust total strangers – if only for a few hours – is one of dance music’s greatest gifts. So my lighter is testament to something precious, as well as a souvenir from the best club the world has ever seen. I binned a load of junk when I cleared out my kitchen drawer, but I kept the lighter. And the poppers, obviously. There’s no use-by date on amyl.

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