Monday, January 7, 2008

Albion: Part Three


Going to Brighton has happened quite a few times. Though this was my first time since New year's Eve 1999, that first, fake millennium celebration.

My first sight of the town, however, was from a ferry passing by on its way to France. At the time I remember being told Brighton was the location of a nudist beach. From then this idea always formed my underlying conception of the town.

My history with Brighton, as I say, goes back a long way.

In 1990 my elder sister was going out with a first generation Trance DJ, a man of the Rave. He helped bring pumping, tribal elysium to the masses, with and without the assistance of ‘Ecstasy’, a drug fresh on the scene. For many months he’d travel down, in his trusty truck, from Cambridge to Brighton to perform at the ‘Zap Club’, a famous Brighton night spot, right on the beach.

Richard - not his real name - was a cool guy. I was fond of him. An ex-heroin addict, his level-headed, passive brand of atheism (‘don’t get me started on Religion’) dislodged him from standard patterns of response, at least to my perception. I remember he introduced me to ‘Crucial Brew’, a beer exceeding Carling Special Brew in strength, though no match, of course, for Gold Label (at 10% surely more of a wine than a beer?).

Actually, on my suggestion, his merry band of trance-facilitators were hired, in February 1989 by my progressive Public school, The Leys, to perform for a Party function. Did we call it a Disco, a Rave or a Bop…? I forget. All went well. Although I, unlike others, kissed no girls on that night, as usual, I did get utterly smashed, of which I believe there’s photographic evidence somewhere in the world, or at least used to be. I forget how the prohibited alcohol we sank was accessed, whether or not we smuggled some in; but it was always possible, as we knew, and presumably the teachers too, to get liquor outside with ease.

I must have gone to Brighton on about three occasions in those misty ‘Gap Year’ days of late 89, early 90, before disappearing to South America for three months. At this time, of course, dancing to tribal vibrations was a novelty for everyone. The Madchester phenonema had not yet begun, nor had the Rave scene been properly commercialised; an innocence, moreover, collected around raving, since grey beards and Jeremiahs of killjoy, Daily Mail persuasions had not yet roused themselves fully from slumber. Even I, an 18 year old, appreciated its allure, despite my musical centre of gravity resting firmly with the The Smiths and The Doors, within a scattering of REM and THE THE.

Unsurprisingly, I didn’t get to see much of Brighton by day; though I do remember one morning, after a long night’s dancing, the beauty and felicity, encouraged by Ecstasy, of the sights and sounds of the morning dawn washing in from the sea. A sumptious, young blonde, danced alone on the beach, in silence, for hours, entirely captivating me.

The next time I went to Brighton was in late 1990, only two days before my brief, dramatic ‘encounter’ with The Unification Church, of which more perhaps later. I had gone there to stay with Jessica.

1 comment:

Chris said...

I remember Crucial Brew. It's one of those '60s - like drinks (yes, I know it was in the late '80s / early '90s): if you had too much of it, you won't remember it, or anything else.