The Big Ticket Easter Weekend
Over the long Easter bank holiday weekend, I decided to investigate what gay Vauxhall has to offer, and to see whether or not I could keep up with the seasoned London partygoers.
I decided to go for the “Big Ticket,” a £40 ($63) ticket that grants access to the “three biggest club events in London.” Because I am pushing the ripe age of 30, I figured that this ticket would suit me best as it kept me confined to the parties starting Saturday at midnight until “super-late” on Monday, rather than starting on Thursday night like many of these partygoers do.
BEYOND MIDNIGHT, AREA NIGHTCLUB
Twelve hours at Area seemed a bit much for me, so I entered fashionably late around 3:00 AM. I didn’t want to read “journalist” but I didn’t want to hide it either. So with the sleeves cut from my Sharon Needles (see RuPaul’s Drag Race Season 4), suspenders, trucker hat, and my fanny pack, I made our way for the beginning of a long three days.
The queue was filled with mostly twenty and thirty–somethings, predominantly gay men but with the occasional fashionable fag hag. I could see Britain’s Secret Intelligence Services, MI6, across the street and wondered if they saw what I was seeing. Here and there a clubber would remember to hide their “goody bag” in their socks before making their way passed the security. There surely was no sun here at three in the morning but some folks in line must have been convinced that it was coming as their sunglasses stayed glued to their faces throughout the night.
I made my way to the security. He said to me, “I recognize your face” and waived me through. Recognized my face? I never saw him before and could have been carrying a whole range of things in my bag.
Nevertheless, I entered and received my golden ticket at the door, checked my bag at the next queue while those around me undressed into skimpier clothing.
The twelve-hour party was spread across three rooms of what was labeled as a “newly refurbished super-club.” Twelve DJs and artists entertained the crowd while I walked around with my camera and notebook in hand. I received a few inquisitive looks. Some ran the other way when I approached, others scurried toward me.
Mirelli, a seasoned Brazilian partygoer, was more than excited to answer a few of my questions. Dressed in a revealing gown and puffing on a cigarette, Mirelli revealed to me what has gone wrong with Vauxhall.
“Things were much more fun five years ago. People used to come for the music. Now, they only come for the GHB.”
GHB, or Gamma hydroxybutyrate, is a favorite club drug in Vauxhall and signs posted around the club are meant to deter people from using the drug. Nevertheless, a quick glance around the dance floor or a few minutes spent in the bathroom queue reveals the ugly truth. Although the official rule is “only one person per stall,” quite often a tiny vial of clear liquid is passed to a friend waiting outside the stall to mix their concoction behind closed bathroom doors.
Too much GHB can be lethal as Mirelli can tell you firsthand. A 28-year-old friend of hers died last year from overdosing.
But some people are there to enjoy the music I think, and I was offered a VIP wristband by someone who wanted to show this reporter a good time on the upper level. There, I was given free drinks and had a bird’s eye view of the go-go dancers and the stage, and where I spent much of the first part of the Big Easter Weekend dancing to some typical Vauxhall-style house music.
WE PARTY LONDON – FLUORO T-DANCE, THE CORONET THEATRE
A quick taxi ride from Area was the headlining event of the weekend, the WE Party’s T-Dance. Billed as “the most fluorescent, brightest and most vivid of spectacular club parties ever seen in London,” I was looking forward to seeing the “incredible visuals and stage production, mind blowing special effects, cutting edge music from the WE Resident DJs, and more gogos and dancers on stage than ever before.”
Over 100 years old and still sporting its art deco features, the Coronet is massive, able to host 2,600 people. Some of the faces in the two gigantic queues outside looked well rested, others looked a tad strained and ready to escape from the outside world indoors.
The main stage was quite lively, summoning the bulk of the dancers to it. Even George Michael could be found shaking his hips alongside his boyfriend. I don’t know if I would go so far as to say there were “mind blowing special effects,” but there were some pretty cool visuals.
Outside in the smoking area I spoke with Lilly who told me that the girls like coming to these events because of how friendly the gays are.
“They are never too aggressive and they treat you like a queen,” she said. “You can even make friends in the toilets.”
Xander, who has been coming to Vauxhall since 2007, had a slightly grimmer view of the situation.
“Vauxhall is a microcosm of society,” he said. “Everything is concentrated into one place. You can do drugs relatively easily. Everyone knows someone who has died on GHB.”
GHB was made illegal one year ago, Xander told me. The policy of forbidding more than one person per bathroom stall began two years ago, which Xander believes may have led to a decrease in the level of HIV infections.
The next time I went to the bathroom, however, I noticed three people coming out of one stall and two coming out of the other while the security guards just stood there. So I don’t know how accurate Xander’s theory is.
Nevertheless, I had a great time dancing the night away. I met some amazing people from all over the world, and shook my booty like never before.
AS ONE, FIRE NIGHTCLUB
When the WE Party was nearing its end, a group of three guys asked me if I wanted to come and “chill out” before the next party, As One, billed as “bringing together the coolest brands in the capital in London’s leading gay venue.” I figured that I could use a little break to recharge before setting off on the third and final leg of this trip. Little did I know I would be caught in a medical emergency.
The plan was to chill out for a couple of hours before heading back to Vauxhall. I noticed that one of the guys was taking a large amount of GHB very often. When I suggested that he take it easy he barked, “Don’t worry, I know what I am doing!”
Before long he was on the floor having some sort of GHB-related convulsions. I told someone to call an ambulance. The guy’s straight brother was there and freaking out. Due to my background in emergency medical training I knew how to ensure that he was not going to swallow or bite his tongue and put him into recovery position. Then, he started vomiting unconsciously.
When the paramedics arrived, nobody wanted to tell them what he had ingested, so I did. Within minutes they had the man on the stretcher and placed in the ambulance, en route for the hospital, where he would be released two days later.
As for me, that was the end of my journey. I had enough stimulation for one long Easter weekend, and retreated to my home, only to resurrect myself after a very long sleep.
twoday magazine wants to know: What did you think of Jonas' adventure in London? Share with us on our Facebook page.
Like this article? Check out other interesting articles from twoday magazine:
Shaman and the Sun Dance by Jonas Moffat-Caballero
Red Flag Alert! by Natalie Bencivenga