World travel for the partygoer (Part 1: London)
Standing on the grass in Clapham Common as the sun goes down, swaying to the heavy beats of Sasha and John Digweed, two of the greatest DJs in the world. My best friends are at my side, eyes rolled toward the twighlit heavens, along with the hundreds of colorful, face-painted individuals all riding the same musical waves of contentment and ecstasy. This is a picture of Southwest Four (SW4), a two-day festival that occurs annually in London, England. This is one of the easier festivals to attend, as it's just a hop skip and a jump on the tube to get to the Common, and there's no camping so you can amble home (or to the afterparty) after dark and come back in the morning, refreshed for a second round. If you can find the way home, that is. Getting home was quite the task for my friends and I after a full day of music, dancing, and red bull-vodkas. An hour after finally figuring out which direction to go, a two-hour colorful bus ride later filled by random conversation with a Brazilian transvestite and an unamused bus driver intent upon ignoring me, we were finally plopped down in front of my friends' house in Elephant & Castle. Much head-massaging and tearing off of fake eyelashes ensued.
The UK seems to be the number one party destination (next to the sleep-depraved island of Ibiza) due to its variety of mega-clubs and international musical gatherings, the likes of which include Southwest Four, Global Gathering, Reading Festival, Creamfields, Southport Weekender, and many, many more. Festivals like Global Gathering boast huge VIP areas with sleeping tents and refreshments, situated away from the stages to make sleeping perhaps possible.
London is a melting pot of electronic music and a wonderland of DJs. A few of my favorites, including Desyn Masiello, Joey Negro, Mark Knight, John Digweed, Sasha, and Nick Warren reside in the UK and you can see them on a monthly basis. My club of choice was Ministry of Sound, due to the proximity of it to my home (20-minute tube ride) and to the Elephant & Castle party house (just a short walk away), as well as the deep and driving music of the world's top DJs and producers such as Nick Muir, Sasha and John, Hernan Cattaneo, Mark Knight, and many more. Defected (in the House) also boasts a residency at MOS. The majority of my saturdays during my two-year London residence were spent dancing under the disco-balled ceilings or on the "no-dancing-allowed" speaker tops to the likes of the biggest DJs on the planet, all for under $20 per show! Memories of pre-bush parties (i.e. drinking large amounts of alcohol in the bushes outside of the club in order to save money on bar drinks) are numerous, as well as bussing home at 4am in bright blue heels with my illegal mace (yes, it's illegal in the UK) tucked securely in my pocket. Suffice it to say I never had to dispense it. When Ministry of Sound released its own vodka, I was on the frontlines go-go dancing in their vodka web commercial featuring Mark Knight on the decks. After filming, a private party ensued with much drinking of free MOS vodka.
Club Pacha London, home of Hed Kandi, was another fave of mine. Funky and upbeat house music from the likes of Miguel Miggs, Seamus Haji, and Fierce Angels steamed off the decks. Kidology, an up and coming house label, often visited Pacha with their smiling DJs and candy-costumed go-go girls. Much blue-wig-wearing and champagne-drinking ensued with my besties at Pacha.
A little-known hole-in-the-wall club in Shoreditch called T Bar was also among my frequently visited watering holes. Local DJs ruled the scene here, and dancers came to get down and dirty in the dimly lit cave that was the dance floor. T Bar boasted the best collection of disco-minimal-progressive-whatever music in London, and nowhere else could I lose myself in the music as much as here. "Swallowing too much bass" is a phrase that describes the scenario pretty well.
And then there's Matter. Nested in London's O2 Arena sitting contentedly upon the Thames, you can reach it by boat or tube. This is a Bedrock hotspot, going til 7 or 8 in the morning. The best sunrise I've ever experienced took place after leaving a Digweed show around 6:45 am, ambling slowly toward the tube, watching the huge orange ball of the sun rise above the lazy sailboats in the river. A great ending to a great night. London is host to endless boat parties upon the Thames. One of my first party experiences in London was on an SOS Collective (Desyn Masiello + Demi + Omid) boat party. For two hours, we danced down the Thames in style with some of my favorite DJs on the planet (yes I am a Desyn stalker), with the sun shining down on us and the cool breeze rustling our hair.
London being the clubbing capital that it is, almost anywhere you go you will find something to shake your feet to. A quick stroll down Brick Lane, Camden or Soho will keep you content long into the wee hours of the morning.