It was raining hard and it was cold. He had gone back to the house to get me a shot glass, because I can’t and won’t drink tequila straight from the bottle, so I stood at the end of our street waiting for him. When you’re waiting things always seem to take longer than when you’re doing.
He came running back towards me, his long black coat blowing out behind him, his trilby firmly planted on his head. He looked strangely like a man out of time, entirely black and drenched by the night.
We were wet when we arrived, obviously, but shed our coats and plunged straight into the melee. I was already quite drunk, having seen in the new year with Ben, Jane and three bottles of champagne. I could tell from looking at the faces swirling about me that it was one of ‘those’ sort of parties.
We did a quick recky, just to check out what was going on and where. Scream Studios is quite a big place, providing rehearsal space for bands in various themed rooms. I’d been there before, on a film shoot, which to be honest was a bit of a fucking nightmare because the director had chosen to shoot a scene in a room of mirrors – obviously a bit tricky when you have to keep three cameras out of shot!
The room that instantly attracted us was the one with the band playing in it. We sort of elbowed our way in at the back, but because it was a private party there was the sense that we were all friends, or at least friends of friends, so there was none of that usual testosterone fuelled jostling you get in normal clubs and pubs when everyone’s trollied.
‘Mwah gish gish frot’, Matt said.
‘What?’ It was impossible to shout over the top of the music with a strong horn section pumping out psycho ska. He pushed to the front and I followed him, eventually seeing Helen dancing on the stage steps and waving wildly. As we became absorbed by the crowd the heat overwhelmed me. There were perhaps 150 people crammed into a space no larger than a big sitting room. The beat of ska is mesmeric and everyone was bobbing up and down in perfect harmony. I breathed in and it reminded me of getting off the plane in Nigeria and the steaming humidity that I’d sucked into my lungs. Everyone was slippery with sweat, it was like a sauna.
Helen hugged me and our new year wishes skidded off each other’s skin. Right in front of the stage and there’s nothing to do except dance. Intense strobe lights added to the effect. Pretty soon I found myself sodden and moving compulsively. The woman next to me had some luminous dots painted around her eyes which became utterly fascinating to me.
The band played and the band played, it seemed almost relentless. Once every so often someone in the bouncing crowd would shake a cold can of lager and then open it up spraying it over the rest of us, these fountains were welcome and applauded. I can vaguely remember some riff about three bottles of Blue Nun and a crate of Stella. The sense in amongst all these people was one of celebration, through noise, heat, chaos and togetherness. We were all moving as one massive drug/drink fuelled blob and our consciousnesses seemed to meet smiling.
The band finished and we all poured out of the room, hungry for cold air that wasn’t liquefied by the sweat of others. There was another room, some techno … Matt went to get water … I stood against the wall and Helen and Georgie seemed to be floor dancing, or it could’ve been wrestling … In the hallway and people pushed and hugged and I met some guy called Jude, who apparently would be on at 3.00am. He was wearing glasses, horn rimmed things like superman, and a Hawaiian shirt. Matt wasn’t wearing any shirt. He was standing, one foot against the wall, propped and rolling a cigarette. I could see the steam rising from his shoulders and the sweat pouring off him.
Dani, who’s like a whirlwind at even the calmest of dinner parties, ripped past me and grabbed my hand, something about nitrous oxide. I somehow became confused and ended up in another techno room which was very red. I danced there for a while and on the way out kicked the bin and tripped over the step, stupid bloody place to put a bin.
We found Dani and Helen and someone called Gabby (who apparently I’ve met before but can’t remember) in the chill out room. The chill out room, HA, what a misnomer, it was absolutely fucking boiling. This was the mirror room, not that you’d know, because the condensation was so thick that the walls seemed to have just been converted into slow gliding water. Dani gave me a balloon, ‘Yeah what, yeah no, what?’ I gave it back to her. Nitrous oxide, that’s like what you have when you’re giving birth and I didn’t particularly want to relive that vomitfest, especially as by this time I had consumed quite a large quantity of tequila.
I watched as the three girls did some strange hyper-ventilation, suck it in, blow it out thing with the balloons full of gas. Dani’s brain then seemed to go into some sort of overdrive and, between balloons, she kept telling me of how she had seen this moment, or this moment just keeps happening – the usual drug induced bollocks. I leant forwards and said ‘There are no moments, it’s a time singularity, everything that has happened, is happening and will happen is all present right now, you can access all of it …’ Her eyes bulged.
Er, I then appear to have lost a couple of hours, which would serve me right for playing head games with Dani. I remember slouching against the water mirrors, shaking some guy’s hand, no idea who he was … We polished off the tequila. I had something to eat, someone had food, at least I hope it was food. I talked to Helen. I ended up crying something at Matt, because he had refused the plea bargain and ended up with two and a half years instead of three months and I had ended up having the baby on my own. I will never entirely understand why he did that.
We came home at 6.00am, and the streets were surprisingly busy, but I have only the sketchiest memory of thinking ‘Ooooooooooooo, pretty lights.’ He put me on the bed, carried me to bed and took my clothes off, which were sticky in a most unappealing way. Actually peeling down the bedclothes and organising my legs to get under the duvet seemed to defeat me for quite some time. I turned on Radio 4, ah, lovely, beautiful, dependable Radio 4, and listened to a pleasant RP accent welcome me to 2006 before falling asleep.