Let me take you on a tour……deep down into the underground….the London Underground….mind the crack…
Let's start on a Friday afternoon in May in a small town in south-west of London called Weybridge. I am finishing up my work, and getting ready for a weekend in London. After having spent every night in a different hotel room since I have arrived in the country, I am looking forward to a weekend without having to pack my bags every morning. I will be staying with my friend Alex's friend Eric in his new little house in London. Eric is a crazy in South Africa born Australian who I have met multiple times in San Francisco. I am sure will have a great time.
My coworker drops me off at the Weybridge train station where I will learn shortly that not every train that goes to London calls at Clapham Junction. Clapham Junction is where I have to get off, and trains in this country don't stop but they 'call'. Anyways I jump into the first train that goes to London Waterloo Station, and have to find out that my train does not call or maybe shout at Clapham Junction, but it shoots right through, and does not stop until Waterloo. Well I got a little free sight seeing tour of the south bank of the river Thames. Battlefield-like people are trying to conquer their train at Waterloo station. You see all skin colors, all hair colors. London is truly the center of the world. After some searching I find my train back to Clapham Junction, and finally arrive at my desired destination with a 30 min delay.
After some minutes of orientation I find myself walking along Falcon Road towards Battersea. There is also a Falcon Lane, and Falcon store, and Falcon this and a Falcon that. For those of you who know Eric, this will make perfect sense.
Eric awaits me with a nice vodka and cranberry cocktail which means that the Friday night adventure has officially started. His house is so cute with a little garden and his Ferrari red motor cycle in his personal parking spot. A personal parking spot in London is quite rare.
At around 10pm we head into Soho to a bar called "The Edge". We are going to buy tickets for Fiction, my favorite Friday night venue in town. The professional London partier buys the tickets upfront. It is cheaper and shortens the 'cue' at the door. While Eric orders a couple of Red Bull Vodkas, I socialize with the not-from-this-planet looking, long legged, and high heeled drag queens (see picture). It is always good to make new friends.
An hour later we are back in the tube heading towards Kings Cross. Eric gets a bit nervous when I take him into the dark little roads hidden behind Kings Cross Station. We also run into some lost tourists from Los Angeles who are happy to see some fellow clubbers in this spooky neighborhood. Fiction (www.club-fiction.net) is located at the Cross, a club north of Kings Cross. Fiction is London's answer to the EndUp in San Francisco where gay, straight, male, female, old, young, trendy, and boring people enjoy the "fin de semaine".
Clubbing in London is not just going to a discothèque and wiggling your ass with a drink in your hand. It is a serious adventure, and some people even survive it. At home you remove everything you don't need from your pockets. At the coat check you leave some extra cash and your phone in your jacket. Always put your coat check ticket in the same place, and you make sure you don't loose it. I have been there, believe me. It's not fun to wait until the last person has left the club. Make plans with your friends where to meet the next day in case you or they feel the urge to head home or God knows where earlier. With all those people and all the fog, the chances not to find each other are high. After having finished the last preparations, you take a last breath of fresh air before you dive into the London fog. The fog is sometimes so thick that your hands are the only means of navigation. The repetitive music and whatever else you might choose will bring you into state of trance which allows you to relax your all so busy brain and reflect over the facts of life. You might also decide to chase some hot bodies of the preferred gender and find a little corner for some good "snogging" (that's how making out is called here)
It is 6am, both Eric and I have survived the club-stravaganza, and we take a taxi back home where we will enjoy a good sleep. The restless ones continue on to A.M. to party on until the afternoon. They don't have to stop until Monday afternoon if they don't want to. There is always one place opening when another closes in the party Mecca of the planet.
In the afternoon the smell of a good English breakfast with eggs, ham, sausage, and tomatoes tickles my sleepy nose. After breakfast and a hot bath, Eric and I climb the red rocket and shoot into Soho, the West-end. The goal of the weekend is to get a hair cut. You see I don't make too many plans, because I don't want to be disappointed.
The motor cycle is definitely the best way to get around in London. I have to say I have never acknowledged how many extremely beautiful buildings there are. We ride along the Thames, across Trafalgar Square, and right into the West-end. I get my 5 pound hair cut which is equivalent to a 40 dollar hair cut in the US because hair dressers here are real artists. I have to admit that the 5 pound thing is a bit of a risk, but there is no wait, and worst case, I would shave my head and look just like 70% of all the gay men in London. I am happy though that the hair cut works out just fine.
Even though it is kind of cloudy, it does not rain when we are out in the street. We end up at the Old Compton Bar for a beer socializing with a PWC consultant (not plastic but Price Waterhouse Coopers) with the craziest haircut ever. After this beer we strain through the neighbourhood and end up buying some wigs at "Sohi Soho" a little Height Asbury (San Francisco) like store hidden in a little lane. Eric looks like Ellen DeGeneres and I look like Whoopee Goldberg. With our wigs mounted, we had to Eric's favorite Malaysian restaurant to eat Laksa, a spicy coconut noodle soup with chicken and sea food. After the food we are ready to leave the tourist Mecca and rest for the next night out.
After some shopping we relax at home and to my surprise it is the night of the Eurovision Song Contest, a yearly event where every country in Europe sends their worst singers to compete. I am just being sarcastic here. The winner will host the contest the following year. This year it is hosted in Latvia. The stage is quite impressive with the floor being a gigantic video screen. The Austrian song is embarrassing as usual. Never the less we make it into the first ten. The UK on the other hand is not getting a single point. They are being punished for playing war with their buddies from across the pond. Well, the song is horrible too, but zero points are definitely a message. The winner, Turkey, has great belly dances…and they did not allow the US to use the air bases…
After the show I am ready to head out again. Eric decides to stay in but gives me a ride into Vauxhall, which is the adjacent neighborhood to Battersea. Crash is the chosen place for my Saturday night out. Crash is a warehouse style club that attracts more the American style muscle crowd. Most shirts have gone, and the DJs in the two rooms spin the best funky house. I meet a nice Italian guy from Rome, and we enjoy the dance floor together. At 5am, it's time to leave for me. Of course, the hard core London clubber would head over to Beyond just down the street. Beyond opens at 4am and goes on until 2pm or even longer. After some lost wondering in the neighborhood trying to find a taxi cab, I find a bus that brings me back to Clapham Junction from where I know my way home and fall into my little bed.
Sunday afternoon Alex's boyfriend William stops by at 3pm for an evening out with the boys. It is a bank holiday on Monday, so the concept of a work day is not threatening yet. After some chitchat we head over to Vauxhall for Dame Edna, the best drag show in the world. It is actually a Dame Edna impersonator and not the real one. She sings every song life with an amazing voice. If you are ever in London on Sunday, don't miss it at the Royal Vauxhall Tavern at 6pm. 6pm my ass! We get there by 5pm and it is sold out already. So if you really want to see it, go there early enough. It is worth the wait. Slightly disappointed that our plans have fallen through, we head into Soho trying to find a bar that suits us all. We end up at Barcode, a bar that attracts more the bold head/jeans kind of crowd but has some trendy youngsters mixed in. The DJ on his portable turntables in the corner spins fab tunes again. Nevertheless at around 10pm we decide to split up the trio infernal and go separate ways. Eric and William head home. I have another drink and end up doing the same. There would be Universe, a five dance floor mega party but I have no desire for any more dancing. I am getting old.
Monday is relaxing day. We go to store to buy some food and a little barbeque operated with real charcoal. The thing consists of a lot of parts and 50 screws to put the parts together. The good old Austrian engineering skills are very helpful. After the charcoal has burned down into a white hot mass, we throw the "chooks on the barbie" as they say in Australia. It is delicious.
In the afternoon we head up to Hampstead Heath to wander around in the park and get some fresh air or whatever else is fresh there. I personally stick with the air. The red rocked saddled, we shoot back home and get some good night rest to prepare for yet another work week.
So, if you have not been to London yet, get your bloody ticket, and move your arse here. Just make sure to find out where your OFF button is.