Top of The Pops
How long ago did he take it? He knew it depended on weight and metabolism but he didn’t know for sure. It wasn’t an exact science. He had always banged the scotch down and smoked a lot of hash but this was different. This was the real deal. He’d heard it on the grapevine. These new pills from New York and Amsterdam were changing the social fabric of London. It used to be beer and punch-ups and now it was pills and loved-up. Arrests for unsocial behaviour were down and more importantly, the establishment was scared. It had been justly challenged with punk and then the gay abandonment and sexual ambiguity of Boy George et al nearly tore the nation asunder. But ironically Boy George then turned into every grandmothers’ favourite bingo partner and the urban landscape returned to its safe, apathetic roots and bland normality.
Then the people of the night tipped the world on its end. Space cadet record execs were bringing these pills back from New York. These little portents of love were apparently amazing. They took you elsewhere, gave you love in abundance and made the girls love you back. The summer of love, Woodstock itself, was being re-invented right in front of everyone’s eyes. The Sun and The Daily Mirror revealed the shocking threat to the nation and he believed the propaganda until his cousin told him to stop being daft.
He was nineteen and it was about time that he jumped onto the hedonistic bandwagon. He had missed out on punk and ska. There was hardly any rebellion in the 80’s. It was make-up and silly love songs. What had started out with the Sex Pistols and The Clash dived headlong into the rapture of Spandau Ballet and Duran Duran. There was no class struggle. Greed was good according to Margaret Thatcher and Reaganomics ruled the roost. Live now pay later. Ostentatious displays of wealth, cocktails and the word ‘yuppie’ were the order of the day. And guess what? The young had just about had enough.
The corporatisation of the weekend. The theme pub. The Saturday night super club. Big burly bouncers telling you, ‘Wrong shoes mate’, or ‘Wrong shirt’, even, ‘Sorry mate, just don’t fit the image’. Enough was enough!
Free parties were on the rise. Dance music was exploding. Warehouses were being taken over by huge sound systems and the kids and the drugs were everywhere. It was 1989 and the great British party massive had started.
They were in Slough, West of London. Slough was one of those peculiar afterthoughts of British planning. Pronounced ‘slau’, its name sounded ugly and its streets were much the same. A post Second World War new town. Pebble-dashed terraced houses built cheaply, without imagination and without soul. The only reason you went to Slough was because it was on the way to somewhere else. The English equivalent of Belgium.
It was one of the biggest holes he had ever been to but tonight it was his paradise. It was his conversion on the road to Damascus. For tonight he would experience the roller coaster ride that was MDMA and witness the world’s best on the wheels of steel. A warehouse. A laser. A bass bin. Tonight he would turn away from the beer soaked ravages of a football bender and become enveloped in the rush and the beautiful shiver of the white dove. Tonight he would be Top of The Pops.
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