Years ago – I forget when, but I’m sure I’ve written about it since – I used to go to a club. It was a peculiar place, called the Einstein A Go Go. I think it finally closed down around 1997? Thereabouts? About the time everything dissolved into tears, anyway. Goodness me, I remember that. One day we held our failures like hot water bottles, the next we exploded into a stream of irrelevance and nothingness. We still do. And golly, that’s it – we are just so nothingistic now.
Forgive me. I write this nostalgic stuff and I see celery, SS-20s, clouds of desperate men, knitted patterns and ballistic trajectories. I forget that I am a person.
Where was I?
Someone told me it was much earlier – 1990, in fact, but I don’t think that sounds right. I remember dancing in its grim shadows as late as the blitzing summer of 1995. We were thinking about all the unemployed and the final end of the mines, and yet were joking about Major as if he were a failed circus clown.
It was explosive – wow, the noise and the light! Although it always seemed quite dark. Maybe it was the fear the light and the noise that they made you think was coming. Noise, light, heat.
There was a lot of light though, and drugs – I remember the drugs.They made everyone except me very happy. Lots of smiling faces and people used to say, ” why do you drink that rubbish? It just makes you violent.” But I never felt violent, only sad – much like today. I don’t know what it was everyone else was taking but they seemed happy for a bit. They weren’t that happy at school, in fact they were extremely aggressive and hated my guts, but that was because I was taking the michael out of them, all the time, from a position of ignorant arrogance. I was right, but that was chance, and they look a lot better than me, twenty years on, so they must have done something right.
The Einstein A Go Go – that wasn’t even the right place for a drug. They were in the wrong club, really. But they were sort of trapped, as there was nowhere else to go until 1998. Some of them had said there were other clubs as early as 1987, but I never believed them.
I remember there was a guy on the door – he looked like Richard Nixon – or was it Charlie from Words and Pictures – and he used to say – “Them shoes are communist” and not let you in. Or something. The music was pretty good – that was the thing about the Einstein A Go Go. The music just had this feel of ending – this sense that we were all panicked. It used to make you panic. That’s why the Ebenezer-Heads were in the wrong club. We flew on panic, anxiety and fear. Sometimes the DJ would play this crappy synth thing, this cover of some soul classic, like Ain’t That Peculiar – and we would all start completely still, then we would shuffle, then we would move like pulses of electricity, out of time and without space. We’d bounce off each other, sometimes fighting, sometimes never even knowing there was another person there. There’d be silence, of some kind, between pulses, notes or bars. There would be gaps. We never intended violence, but it did happen. We just wanted to be separate.
If I remember it rightly, there were pictures of fields and stuff on the walls. The club cultivated this pastoral atmosphere, but there was nothing farmly about it. It was strictly houses only. Houses, quiet roads, alleyways and sodium street lights only. I think that was because the club was started up by people who lived in the soulless deep streets of Moscow, New York – and Sutton. Sutton was really important: London Corporation brickwork for mile after mile after north after south after east after west. St Helier Hospital and its morals blasting at you all the damn time.
Somehow the long, same empty streets made you feel like the end was quite close, maybe even behind you. It’s not the same now because the houses, flats, prisons are winking and joking with you. Some of them are blue – that sort of says it all. But if you look at any serious show or Play for Today recorded in the 70s or 80s, you can see the streets I mean. They are not washed out by the film, they are washed out.
Most of the time, there’d be something that combined the anxiety with love and lust or desire or ambition or something like that. The songs would sound small, and fast, like intelligent rats, and you’d try to follow them and if you caught them you’d feel a bit sad – like Love Plus One by Haircut 100, for example, or The Lion’s Mouth by Kajagoogoo. Eventually delicate fear was superseded and hiphop overtook it, turning the Coward-esque tossy ironies, the stupid b-movie sound effects, into raw fear and anger – it got the anger, but the club Einstein A Go Go was never comfortable with anger or with hiphop.
So it really fitted into its surroundings. You had to be careful, mind. There were fights everywhere. There were no bogs and the dancefloor was split into several parts, all fenced off from each other. It used to really get some peoples’ goats. They didn’t like it if you looked at them. But that’s not really an Einstein problem.
It’s worse now, even on the streets. People don’t like you anymore.
But their problem is different. It’s the problem of eternity. They have immortality to worry about and they are scared that it is a very long time in which to do nothing. In which to be nothing. And they turn back to fear. So maybe it isn’t that different. This time their fear is a bit more…extended. They are very keen that everyone have the same fear. That we all share their own worries. They really don’t like it if we don’t – they get cross. They curl up in a ball and scream.
The generations have so little to teach each other, don’t you think? The problems are the same as they have always been, but we give them new clothes.