Mudfest

For me 2012 will be remembered as The Year of The Mudfest. The year when Glastonbury took a sabbatical and every other festival got swamped in the disparate deluge instead. Parklife became Swamplife, Cocoon in The Park became Marooned in the Mud, the Isle of White Festival may as well have been held in Atlantis, even the Grand Prix at Silverstone struggled to stop it’s car park sinking. Whilst flip flops were still de rigueur around the beach parties and mega raves on the continent, the festival fashion accessory of the year in Britain this summer has definately been the welly.

The weather in England is not one of the nations best features and British summer’s are rarely that great. But this year Old Blighty has surpassed itself and served up the mother of all shit summers. The summer of 2012 has got to be one of the worst ever; it’s definately the worst I can remember. The rain came down and just kept on coming and coming. Day after day, week after week, in biblical buzz-killing proportions. It was like Margaret Thatcher rose up into the heavens, dropped her bloomers and just let flow from the clouds, pissing on the bonfires and raining on the parades of every fun loving soul in England just to spite the Queen on her jubilee year. Well you know what; Her Majesty literally descended from the heavens accompanied by 007 for the Olympics, and despite the shit weather and shit economy the whole nation partied anyway so f**k you.

Say what you want about the British, you have to admire our capacity to maintain the party spirit even in the harshest of conditions. And whilst our weather can be depressingly awful, somehow it comes up trumps for the big events – Wimbledon survived this year, the Olympics opening ceremony and outdoor events have all been rain free (for now), the rain even held off in rainy Manchester for the first night of the Stone Roses reunion gig  and for two whole weeks in 2002 when we hosted the Commonwealth Games (although it came down with a vengeance for the closing ceremony)!

Some of the sights I’ve seen this year in festival photos would be enough to make lesser nations think that everyone in the UK had truly gone insane; people up to their knees in mud – but still dancing; people sliding through murky brown sludge – but still smiling; people pelted by rainfall – but still drinking! I’m suprised there hasn’t been an epidemic of foot and mouth disease, I really am. I don’t know how many of these crazy bastards just put on a brave face because they’d already paid for their tickets and rip-off booking fee and had no choice but to go whatever the weather, or how many of them were simply out of their mind on drugs and alcohol, all I can say to my fellow fun loving Islanders – I salute you for making the effort, I really do. And if the Gods are kind and just, next summer will be an absolute scorcher, booking fees will be outlawed, and the news about the untimely death of David Guetta in a car accident will turn out not to be a hoax.

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We Like To Party Hard.

I like to boogie. Everyone should. Music is food for the soul and whatever you’re into you should get into it. I’m no international jetsetter but I’ve partied in some fantastic clubs and places around the world, and been to some jawdropping venues in places as cool and diverse as Berlin, Barcelona, Marbella, Marrakesh, Rio, Rome, Amsterdam, Stockholm and of course Ibiza. Yet despite being accepted in some of the most impressive venues in the world and partying with some of the coolest people to the best Dj’s alongside some of the most beautiful South American and Eastern European prostitutes that a wealthy man’s money can buy; the only place I have ever had issues getting through the door is in England!

“This is England not Ibiza, now f**k off.”

This bizarre irony baffles me. How is it that despite being accepted at great venues with great music and beautiful people, when I’m in my own country and I go to some dive in some shitdog town filled with pissed up knobheads and overweight, trampy, women drinking alcopops, that I have to suffer the indignity of some moronic meathead questioning my attire. I’m stood outside a venue and there is a paramedic who is trying to get some sense out of a drunken inbred looking twat who’s lumpy fat skank of a girlfriend who has just been ejected from the venue, has spewed up and passed out face first onto the pavement into a pool of her own vomit – and the doormonkey is telling me that I can’t get in because I’m wearing a hat!

No trainers, no Prada, no Stone Island, no Armani, no t-shirts, no shirts, no jeans, no sportswear, no stripes (I shit you not) – you really have to hear it to believe it. You could say that this is just what to expect in a provincial small town where to ‘put a donk on it’ is the pinnacle of musical innovation, but “no stripes” came at the door of a Manchester venue that has been rated as one of the top 10 clubs in the world! Either way it’s still no excuse.

“Sorry love if you don’t put them away your gonna have to leave.”

I went to a club in a little town about an hour up the coast from Barcelona. The venue was designed like an aeroplane that had crashed into the side of the mountain it was set in. It had a long outdoor balcony that jutted out off the edge of the hillside and was full of beautiful little Spanish people. We strolled into this busy venue, unquestioned, at around 3am, paid €5 entry, sat on the balcony smoking weed and drinking large vodka red bulls, then staggered home in the early hours of the morning without getting attacked or rained on. I’ve been on nights out in England where people have ran screaming for the exits because a gun fight broke out. I’ve been to a venue where a man was sexually assaulted in the toilet. I’ve been to a venue where I watched a gang of ugly skanks beat the living shit out of some other girl with wine bottles. I’ve been to places in England where there have been mass brawls, stabbings, beatings, rapes, deaths, Premier League footballers pulling their cock out and pissing on the floor – the lot. None of these incidents were caused by someone wearing a hat or a stripey top.

Shorts, trainers, hats and even stripes! Security here is shoddy and any minute now some dancing is gonna break out

I went to a venue that was hosting a Circo Loco night in Manchester. This venue (now closed) had a reputation for not being Black-Guy friendly, but having been to the original Circo Loco at DC10 in Ibiza I was looking forward to it. The excuse for refusal of entry that my Kenyan friend and I were given was that we weren’t dressed right. I suggested that it was impossible to change the colour of your skin for a night out, which didn’t really help. However, if you have been to DC10 in Ibiza, not dressing right – not being right – is par for the course. Muscle bound ravers dressed as women and people in clown masks are just some of the acceptable outfits that are allowed. It is the sheer unbridled hedonism and joy of the music that makes the night world famous – but apparently not at Area 51.

How to party at DC10 in Ibiza – but don’t try this at home!

So you think to yourself, I’ll stay away from places like Royston Vasey and avoid the normal city centre clubs and opt for the expense and exclusivity of a Celebrity Slush Pit. But it’s an English disease I’m afraid and these ‘exclusive’ venues are not immune – and it isn’t necessarily the punters you have to be wary of. Panacea is the spot for the rich and famous in Manchester, yet a few years ago the club manager Joe Akka battered an old man outside the venue leaving him with a fist sized dent in his skull. This guy was an ex-stuntman who had survived that perilous industry all his life, but it seems going for a few drinks in England was a stunt too far.

Then there are the ‘celebrity’ punters themselves. Earlier this year The Circle Club was the scene of a brawl involving everyone’s favourite footballer El Hadj Diouf (they even hate him in his home country of Senegal and neighbouring Gambia). The Circle Club is another regular for what we now call celebrities – soap stars, footballers and… erm… reality TV people I guess. It’s actually a cool little venue with very nice doormen. But after an ‘incident’ where a man was left bleeding from the neck in the street, they now have to serve their drinks in plastic cups and stick champagne bottles firmly to tables so that they cannot be used as weapons. Classy!

I don’t know what the fuck is up with us, but it isn’t just binge drinking. Perhaps it’s just the genetic remnants of our raping and pillaging Viking ancestors, I really don’t know. So I asked an English friend of mine who has been living in various places in Europe over the last 10 years. He told me that in places like Holland, Spain and Germany there is a genuine fear of the British. The Spanish think we are “loco”, the Dutch think we are “cool” but “fucking crazy man”, the Germans just think we are shit at football, but our women are an easy lay.

Another night of fun and frolics in the UK!

I can’t say for certain that other nations don’t have weekly nightmarish scenarios played out in their bars and clubs, but I can say for certain that I never have a problem with doormen or violent, drunken idiots in those other countries. I can also say that there are some great little spots to go out in England, but you have to know where they are. In my experience, if you follow the crowd that follows the music they love and stick to those intimate little nights that have a following, you’re in relatively safe hands. Avoid anywhere that serves drinks in plastic cups, has a team of doormen at the door or pools of vomit outside. A good venue with a good crowd doesn’t need an army of sted-swallowing, UFC obsessed, pseudo-gay doormen manning the entrance. Look for two, well-built blokes, dressed in black who are smiling and enjoying their work. The other option is to get some tunes playing at one of your mates’ places, invite your friends around, get some drinks and drugs in, and enjoy good company. If you need to get laid then get on the phone to some hookers, give them some sniff and they’ll probably stay the night and do one or two of your mates for free. That’s what they do in Amsterdam anyway, but that’s another country.

Great Nights Out – Newcastle (England) or Stockholm (Sweden) – you decide.