While considering the theme of my next (overdue) blog post I misclicked on a youtube video from 1999 which just so happened to be the year that I began going out to bars and nightclubs armed with a fake I.D.
There’s nothing better to get me out of a funk or bad mood than music. It reminds me of better times. It changes my present moment in a heartbeat. It can take me to experiences, places and memories that had been hidden away for a long time.
The video in question? Love Inc. – You’re a Superstar.
Straight away I was brought back 15 (!) years to a time when my innocent virginal self would be hitting up The Elk, in Toomebridge, Northern Ireland – THE ‘go-to’ venue for those on the cusp of adulthood because the bouncers were fairly lenient about letting under-age drinkers inside.
The ritual in those days was to get shit-faced as quickly as possible in a friends house knocking back blue WKD‘s and Goldschlager shots before taking the bus to the nightclub. My wingman and I would share a packed bus with other partygoers, some of the toughest teens in the neighbouring towns and we were careful to remain fairly docile as they took up residence in the back seats throwing empty beer cans at passengers much to the amusement of an adoring posse of girls.
Because we were still finding our range, the alcohol we thought we could manage was always widely miscalculated. On more than one occasion I had to puke up on the bus and the gangway slowly filled up to a river of vomit which flowed up and down the aisle as the oblivious driver applied the brakes. Shots don’t sit well with me. It’s taken a decade to realise that fact. An embarrassing experience on Millennium Eve should really have been my first and last lesson on the matter.
On future occasions, we improvised and started bringing a Tesco carrier bag to deal with the ‘motion sickness’ so as not to incur the wrath of the ruffians. Also, I wanted to preserve my shirt which was usually matted with dry vomit – on a few occasions I had to wear it inside/out hoping the bouncer wouldn’t notice.
But for a magic few months before we all left to attend Universities across the U.K. and Ireland, they were some of the best times of my life where buddies came together to work out the puzzle that was girls, life, the Universe and everything.
First time getting drunk. First time being with a girl. Stumbling into a makeshift bed at a friends house and comparing notes, analysing the different plays countless times until dawn broke, laughing about tiny incidents and philosophising on things that at the time were monumentally important.
If on one of those rare occasions someone had ‘scored’, dissecting if that girl who gave you her number was THE ONE and how to play it cool so she won’t see how inexperienced and terrified you really are.
That was also the era of Sky One’s Ibiza Uncovered which my older brothers watched religiously. I caught the show a few times and while there was a comical side to it, there was a real ugliness and seediness that I couldn’t wrap my head around. I began associated getting the girl to having to get shit-faced drunk for a long time because of that show and that reflected reality in the club scene around me.
My buddy and I went to Ibiza for 2 weeks shortly before my 18th birthday and I saw first hand the debauchery there. We were like lambs to the slaughter and avoided a lot of the carnage because we were so out of our depth. My devout Catholic mother was kind enough to hide a pack of condoms in my suitcase which must have been a tough thing for her to do. Needless to say, we used them all up on our last night by falling them full of water and lobbing them off our hotel balcony at the drunken Brits below.
Crazy to think that in those formative years how much pressure was put on our young shoulders – University – Peer Pressure with Drinking – Losing Virginity.
Fortunately the little social bubble that housed my like minded nerdy friends and I never really got punctured and we managed to eke out some great times and preserved that innocence of youth – an innocence that seems to be taken much sooner these days than my own only one and a half decades ago. Teen discos, Facebook tagging, smart phones can all be used to humiliate and embarrass. God forbid if some of my antics were ever caught or recorded from those days. As it is those experiences are only accessed in my mind, and with the passing time I can recall some of the happier moments when we were all still figuring it out.
I’m always brought back to those times when I hear the likes of Alice Deejay, Paul Oakenfold, Roger Sanchez et al.
They don’t make music like that anymore, no matter how hard Mr. Guetta tries.