[06/03/2004 16:17] SuPayne: Don't drink too much beer, and have a good time.
[06/03/2004 16:18] Bxiie: Between flying and riding ambulances, I don't think I'll be able to drink much... Except in London. Probably should stay away from my LJ after that weekend.
[06/03/2004 16:18] Bxiie: Did I tell you? Last time I found an underground rave party.
[06/03/2004 16:19] SuPayne: Is that some kind of drug?
So, to clarify, here is a note that I sent to friends after my last trip (actually, it was the trip before last... I cut my last trip short when war broke out).
I'm back in NH. I spent last weekend in London, after working for the
week in Reading, UK.
London was quite fun. I took the train down on Friday evening after
work. I was in the city and at the hotel by 6:30 pm, at which point I
was ready for a bit of drinking. I started off on a walk to a brewery
that had been recommended by a coworker ('the Orange Brewery'). It was
about a mile from the hotel and I found it without too much trouble...
Except that they had stopped brewing in '98 and now only had crap
(okay... Crap for the UK. Any cask ale in the US would be lovely). So
I got back out after my pint of Courage Bitter and set the GPS to Soho,
about 1.7 miles back the way that I had come. The GPS is a very handy
thing for staggering about the city... You have to set a few points of
interest, or waypoints, ahead of time. After that it's just a simple
matter of following the arrow 'til you get where you want to go. I
stopped at a few pubs along the way, doing my level best to try as many
different ales as I could.
In Soho, I had dinner at an Indian place and then went looking for
somewhere to go dancing... First I stood in line for a really long time
to get into Madame JoJo's, only to find them playing a retro-seventies
mix that didn't really thrill me. I went next door to the Electric Bar,
but that really wasn't it, either... The music was better, but it was
very crowded, too bright, and no good beer. The GPS was nice enough to
alert me to the Limelight nearby, so I went over there. As I approached
the door, a man was being thrown out and I had to wait while he
threatened to kill the door staff. After a bit they let me in.
It was as you would expect the Limelight to be, and I spent a good hour
or so dancing. Then I went home, following the luminous arrow through
street and park until my hotel appeared.
Saturday I got up fairly early and went shopping in Covent Garden on my
way to a second pub that had been recommended to me; Black Friar's, in
Blackfriars, right near the Thames and in the financial district.
My hotel was right near Buckingham Palace. I left the hotel and started
walking towards Covent Garden. Soon I could hear marvelous martial
music and allowed myself to be drawn to it... It was the changing of
the guard. I watched for a few minutes.
I was driven away from Buckingham by my most surreal moment in London.
The military band finished the march they were playing, a stirring piece
with bagpipes, and started into the theme from Star Trek. I walked
quickly away but was not fast enough to miss hearing the flawless segue
from the theme from the original series to the one from 'Next Generation'.
Shopping was okay, although they didn't have the shoes I wanted in my
I continued on and got to Blackfriars and Black Friar's only to find
that they were not open on the weekend. Curses! I wandered down the
Thames back to the hotel to drop off my purchases and regroup stopping
to pick up a grotesque chicken tikka pita wrapped in cellophane and a
bottle of water.
My coworker had given me three recommendations; two had not worked out.
I still had a third on my list; the White Horse in Parson's Green.
After some thought I decided to go for it... All three couldn't suck,
could they? Parson's Green was almost two miles from the hotel...
Along the way I stopped twice for refreshment, trying different brews.
The White Horse made up for the two previous lame recommendations. They
had fifteen or so cask ales, a slew of 'regular' CO2 tap beers, and
fifty or so bottled beers.
The last time I visited UK, I had quite a few different beers but
immediately forgot all of the names. John asked me if I had had
anything good and all I could say was 'yes'. So this time, I decided I
would take some notes so that I could relate to John what I had had, how
I liked them, and what they cost. I was at the crowded bar taking notes
when one of the six or eight bartenders asked me if I was writing a
book. I told him no and explained that I was taking notes on behalf on
my friend. The bartender talked with me for a very long time, gave me
several samples, and actually gave me a tour of the cellar, showing me
the different large CO2 and cask systems and showing me how the cask
ales are tapped. It was *very* interesting and I wish John could have
been there for it.
Among the beers that I tried at the White Horse was Budweiser. This
pilsner from Czechoslovakia is the beer that Budweiser in the US uses as
a model. It tasted just like American Bud in a funky bottle.
Then I staggered back to the hotel with the help of the Underground.
GPS is a drunk's best friend. I carried the London A-Z guide that I
purchased the last time I was over but never cracked it except when
programming waypoints. I had loaded some information for London and
Reading before I came over and so the GPS was able to show me the
streets and find the nearest tube stops and such.
Before the weekend, I had done a little searching on the Internet and
had found a lead concerning a rave party in London on Saturday night.
One catch, though, was that the location was secret until Saturday
night. The web site listed a phone number to call after 10:30 pm.
Apparently the rave was to be held in 'squat space'.
At 10:45 I called the number. A recording, obviously old, told me to
call back after 10:30. I decided the rave producers must be running
late and called back after 11:30, at which time a different recording
directed me to the Holborne tube station. Once at the tube station I
was to look up and go towards the big crane, and that the rave was 'near
By this time I had walked ten or twelve miles around London. I had been
performing blister care each time I had been back to my room but after
nearly a week of walking a lot each day my damaged boots were continuing
to abrade my heels. I elected to take the tube.
It turned out that the tube had closed for the evening so I ended up
taking a taxi to Holborne. When I got to Holborne I found the rave
without too much difficulty. I followed the directions until I heard a
massive bass rumbling emanating from an industrial building. I circled
the building until I came to a gap in some huge doors where there were a
number of door people. I paid my three quid - the cheapest cover of the
week - and entered into a scene out of Mad Max, or Escape From New
York. I was in a massive indoor truck park, with loading docks and
offices. The ceiling was forty or fifty feet above the surface of the
garage roadway. The space was dark, with lighted areas dotted around
the cavernous interior. The entire place was somewhat dilapidated, with
crumbling concrete here and there. There were several trucks parked
inside. Across the way were scaffolding with lights, a DJ setup, and a
big stack of speakers. Several hundred people were scattered around,
about half near the music stand and the rest scattered around the
interior in small and medium sized groups.
I made my way across two or three hundred feet to the setup, located the
concession stand, and got a beer. I watched for a bit and then got in
front of the speakers and grooved. It was exactly what I was looking
for after the disappointing dance experiences of Friday night. The
pumping bass beat had a great deal of energy and I let myself be moved
by it along with the many other partygoers.
The light setup included a very effective fogger; from time to time the
dance area became fogged so thoroughly that it was difficult to see
three or four feet. Several people came to the dance area with a
massive bag of Styrofoam peanuts and emptied it onto the floor. Soon
the entire area appeared to be covered in snow. We were dancing in snow
and fog. But the temperature was pleasantly warm, heated in these close
quarters by the heat of the dancers.
After some time I left the dance area to walk around and rest for a
while. I noticed what appeared to be another dance area beyond a large
dock area strewn with concrete rubble and large metal debris.
Clambering onto the crumbling concrete, I was able to find a path
through the rubble about fifty feet to another grouping of people, DJ
setup, and PA system. This appeared to be the rest and refresh area, as
the dancers here were moving much more slowly, many merely swaying, to a
simple but ever-changing drum and bass mix. A single beam of light
played slowly over the audience from the top of the speakers, constantly
changing color almost too slowly to notice.
In the previous and more obvious dance area, people were packed in
closely near the speakers, as though in a crowded nightclub with a
bounded dance floor. Here, though, they were separated by quite a bit
of room, with five or six feet of open space surrounding each person.
There were fewer dancers here, although at least one hundred people were
in this area, about half dancing.
I found a gap and joined in. The beat was quite hypnotic.
Suddenly I became aware of a strong pungent smell of gasoline. I looked
around and saw three young asian men trying to light juggling implements
on fire. In a few moments they had flames sprouting from two sets of
devil sticks and one set of braziers on chains. They were entertaining
for the ten or fifteen minutes that they performed although they were
not up to the standards of usual Camp Smegma entertainment
Once they finished I tired quickly of the cloying petrol fumes and
returned to the other area, where I danced for a while longer before
deciding to call it a night.
It turned out to be very difficult to find a cab, so I ended up walking
most of the way back to the hotel. My feet were killing me by the time
I got back.
Sunday I got up around noon and took the train back to Reading, checked
back into the hotel. I continued my fruitless search for shoes at the
local shopping area. Still no dice.
I was back in the office on Monday, and flew back yesterday.