Return to The Venue

Looking forward to the weekend? I had a surprisingly good night out last Friday. Courtesy of a chance chat on Facebook (damn you, gods of social networking) I ended up in the New Cross Venue with a few people I hadn’t seen in years. And you know what? I had a whale of a time.

venueI suppose I shouldn’t be too surprised – despite being a creaky 34 I still stick my head around the doors of clubs when I can, partly thanks to discovering How Does It Feel To Be Loved? a couple of years back and reminding myself that good music, a few pints and some familiar faces will forever be a winning combination, or at the very least better than putting up with the burger train home. And while I convince myself The Venue’s part of my distant past – I certainly went at least once a week when I was about 19 or 20, walking home to Greenwich nearly every time – I was still a regular there until about eight years ago. (And how I wish I hadn’t thrown away my stash of flyers…)

Of course, many years back it was a great gig venue – I’m reading Luke HainesBad Vibes: Britpop and My Part in Its Downfall at the moment and he reminded me of the NME gig he played there with Cornershop 16 years ago (I was there…) – but some point in 1995 the place hosted its last “credible” gig (I reckon it was Sleeper, myself, playing to about 60 people while they were in the top 20) before becoming the haunt of tribute bands.

And then some point after I stopped going, more floors were added and the place just seemed to become irretrevably naff. It quickly became only known for its tacky main floor disco, and the last time I went I scurried up to the indie floor on my own after sighting women old enough to be my mother down there. Ladies free before 11pm? The 19-year-old me would have been disgusted with that, but it was probably why the 34-year-old me found himself out with six women…

Now, old enough to be the father of a patron, how would I deal with it? Answer: Mostly by regressing to the state of being 19 again. Thankfully, I was with like-minded souls who stuck it out with me upstairs, and we had a terrific, boozy time. The biggest change these days is the smoking ban – fag addicts are catered for by a terrace with an incredible view of London, from the London Eye right across to the Dome. Funny how less than half the people on that terrace appeared to be smoking…

Otherwise, all was fairly comforting – the DJ’s the same as it was years ago, except he has less hair these days, and he’s probably mellowed his selection a bit, but otherwise he’s still damn good at it. Hey, if it wasn’t for him, I wouldn’t have had a very, very brief career (alright, two nights, probably a couple of hours) as an indie DJ at the turn of the millennium. And the drink still tastes watery but goes down too quickly… (though the older me drinks cider rather than Stella these days).

But nostalgia usually turns me right off most things – on the whole, I can’t stand tribute bands, for example – and it dawned on me very late on; probably when I was getting a drink at 3am (couldn’t do that in 1993), that I was actually enjoying it for what it was – some tunes, some company, some music, some booze, and not far from home. I even thought about applying for membership. You know what? I’d go back there any Friday, and make that upstairs bar my home again. So who’s up for it?

I’ll tell you what, though – my legs ached the next morning; and that never happened when I was 19…


  1. The Luke Haines book is brilliant. Best thing I’ve read for ages. I love the fact that he is pretty much unrepentant about any of his behaviour.

  2. Me n’ Lottie were talking about this. We’re up for going if you fancy another trip. I haven’t been since before I moved to Stockton– in 1996?

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