It’s approaching midnight on the high street of a small Midlands’ town. It’s dry and cold and the air pumps with the sound of Ricky Martin’s ‘Livin La Vida Loca’ – or is that ‘Las Ketchup?’ I’m not sure; you can never be 100% sure.
Tonight is different though, tonight we dive in to the only cocktail club in town – the DJ playing what sounds like his bedroom remix of deadmau5.’ Oh god, oh god, is that ‘Cthulhu steps?’ Now I’ll never enjoy this ‘Cheeky Cosmopolitan.’
Most people order a Pornstar Martini and you realise just how out of fashion you really are. Even Dave’s gone and ordered himself a White Russian because he still thinks that’s cool. You leave through a thick smog of wavy beats asking yourself if a White Russian was ever cool? You want to smack the bloody thing out of his hand, you’re embarrassing yourself, you shout – but you’re just another voice in the crowd: another person communicating over the slamming bass lines of the ‘Cha Cha Slide.’ No, DJ Casper, we’re not going to do the ‘cha cha real smooth,’ we’re going to sit in silence and wonder how club music came to this.
You stare at the remains of another Pornstar Martini and suck at the insides of half a passionfruit – suddenly every cocktail garnish tastes wonderful. It reminds you of happier times. Sucking the fruit, you imagine blue lagoons and palm trees; lying on a beach, tropical ambience, perhaps somebody even passes you a chocolate Bounty bar. But wait, this isn’t Fiji – there’s a used condom under your beach towel. Soon the dream turns nightmarish – terrible house music plays – oh no, you scream, anything but Magaluf!
Nightclub music in the West Midlands is a tragic affair – I challenge anyone to prove me wrong. They’re the kind of places where washed up dance hits go to die, and DJ’s get paid £200 a night for pressing play. If all the best music trends were to start in London, the West Midlands prove shit trickles up as well as down. Unfortunately, that murky trickle is long and laborious, the movement of fluids in an iV drip.
Seriously, if the state of club music was lying in a hospital bed, it would come with a big sign that says: ‘do not resuscitate.’ Except, every time it dies, some Midlands’ disc jockey punches it in the heart, over and over again, until it’s another bloody mess on the mortuary table – the insides all hanging out like wobbling bass lines. You think it’s dead, but it’s not, it’s just comatose – ready to be remixed into a Frankenstein’s monster by the next basement DJ.
But it’s not all bad. At least your average nightclub plays some honest stuff. They’re cheap laughs and you’re not going to need your Sunday best, a pair of loafers and a shoe shine boy. It’s not a pretentious night out or an academic deconstruction of Creamfields. It’s not going to play you a slow Burial track between Madonna’s greatest hits.
I guess you just know what you’re getting with the West Midlands’ nightclub scene – two hours of remix to ignition followed by a greasy kebab. Then again, that’s just nightclubs everywhere, really.
Photo by Elliott Brown