Tuesday, August 20, 2002

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The cut-off point for entry to the Royal Vauxhall Tavern gets earlier every week. I arrived at about 5:15 on Sunday, but they had already stopped allowing people in. "You'll have to wait till after the show," said the bouncer. "Bugger that," said I, and flounced off to Duke's.

Their Sunday afternoon indie-electronic-chillout-thing, Rocktronica, was in full swing. It's free, there's a beer garden, and they play cool music.
Dehumanisation is such a big word
It's been around since Richard the Third.
Dehumanisation - it's easy to say
But if you're not a hermit, well then the city's OK.
I grabbed a beer and wandered into the garden, hoping to spot Dave and Darren. They didn't seem to be there, so I sat with a couple of well-known alternative club promoters. After a few uncomfortable silences ["Seven of the shyest people in London around one table," said Jason, "such atmosphere!"] we found some common ground: Kiki and Herb, Duckie, This Mortal Coil. And then the club promoters indulged in the self-righteousness of the avant garde:

"Can you believe people queue to get into that other place across the road?"
"Yes, and they actually pay to go in there!"
"Yes, and did you see they were in Boyz last week, as an underground venue, and it was horrible - they all had their tops off. What's so underground about that?"

Just then, a friend-of-a-friend, who hadn't been able to get into the RVT, arrived. I heard a sharp intake of breath from the committed indie types behind me. Shaved, cropped, toned, tanned, plucked, waxed, pumped, plumped, primped, buffed, buff, camp, prim, he was the very antithesis of everything they supposedly stood for. In his too-tight vest and impossibly-trendy sunglasses, he was a Scene Queen, the very essence of what they had just been raging against. I've never been so glad to see him.

And you know what? He liked Rocktronica. After a couple of early moments of doubt, he relaxed. "It's quite nice here," he announced, and I could sense the avant garde rear up in a sort of superior inferiority complex. They didn't want people like that over-running their place. That attitude is understandable - alternative clubs exist as - well - an alternative to the scene. I just wish cultish didn't have to mean elitist.

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