WHIRL-Y-GIG, my return
December 10, 2018
Whirl-y-gig a unique and historic clubbing experience: part two of two
I felt like a child at Christmas when I woke up in Hampton on a misty autumn morning, it was Saturday December 8th, Whirl-y-gig day!!
I was returning to Whirl-y-gig for the first time in well over twenty years. Would it be the same? Would the love and togetherness still be there? Will I be the only oldie in a club full of kids? Only one way to find out, I had my ticket and my outfit was on the hanger.
First of all I wanted to get ready the old way, with a bottle of wine and some pumping music in my flat. By the time I was ready to make the journey I was deep in the Whirly mood and up for a party.
Lucky I had my headphones on and my tribal beats banging in my ears as I made the hour and a half journey to Bow Road in London. As I had arrived a bit early I popped into a local pub for a pint. It felt a bit rough as I entered; everyone went quiet and looked over at the stranger in the hippie garb. It was like a scene out of the Wild West, only no gunslingers, just an alien from planet whirl-y-gig. They then just carried on their business and I relaxed with a pint; the freaks were in town tonight.
I then made the short walk to the Bloc nightclub; there was already a small queue of eager clubbers. Straight away I felt that family feeling, people welcomed me with enthusiasm and some recognised me from my blog. I was made immediately welcome and after looking at the people in the queue I answered my first question; it was clearly a multicultural and mixed age group event just like the old days.
As the queue got larger it was surely going to be a packed club in there. We were soon ushered to the door to make our entry. This bit surprised me, the security checks were more like airport customs, with full bag checks, pat downs and even my wallet was searched. This was very different from the last time I came to whirly; I guess it’s a sign of the times, a lot has happened in the world since 1990.
Once I entered the club I got a good idea of the lay out. The café selling cakes and fruit and coffee and tea was still there, just like before. The cloak room staff were warm and friendly as I put in my bag for the night. This initial area had tables and chairs and doubled up as the clubs chill out area.
I then passed through some double doors to a sort of corridor area. To the right were alcoves with leather sofas, a nice place to chat and meet new people. The ceiling in this corridor was very low and it felt a little claustrophobic. To the left was the bar, I went over and ordered a can of red stripe (no draft) the beer was £5, a bit of a shock but the club has to make money somehow.
I stood at the bar a while and within ten minutes multiple people had come over, greeted me and introduced themselves. I felt it then, that Whirl-y-gig family feel, that love and companionship, it was still there and I smiled; I’m back. All these people were dressed in colourful clothes, with crazy hats and beads; it was Wilderness festival all over again; I love the freaky people.
I then entered the dance floor and was elated to see the familiar set up, giant balloons floated around the room, coloured lights illuminated the painted material draped all around and huge globes hung from the ceiling; oh, to be back with an old friend.
Then I saw Richard at the decks, Monkey Pilot in his famous hat. I walked onto the stage to greet him but before I reached him he opened his arms and shouted ‘Stephen!’ We hugged and reminisced, it was beautiful. The crazy thing is, he hasn’t aged a day in 28 years, the man is some sort of alien immortal god and his natural warmth oozed out of every pour.
It didn’t take long for the club to become very, very busy and the atmosphere was incredible. Monkey Pilot played a mix of musical styles on the decks: global dance, tribal, reggae, house, trance, Goa trance and jazz fusion.
I met so many wonderful characters and they made me feel like I belonged there, I was now back in the fold. One great example of the many chameleons I met was Geoff who has been coming to Whirl-y-gig for many, many years and is also a regular Goa, India visitor. He is proof that you are never too old to embrace life and party!!
Another important person from my past Whirly days was eluding me at this point but I finally stumbled upon Mary (Whirl-y-gig’s co-runner) in the chill out area chatting to someone. I said Hi and she recognised me straight away. She was a little busy but we exchanged a few words and she suggested that as it has been so many years since I was last the Whirl-y-gig balloon man that I might like to blow up a few balloons before the parachute event later in the proceedings. I thought this was a lovely idea and was really thoughtful. I said that after not clubbing for so many years I might not make it to 5.30am, but I would give it a good go. Mary too had not aged a day since 1990; I want some of what she’s having.
The evening was a crazy one, and although I was very much still there at 5.30am I think we were both caught up in the evening and I didn’t get round to blowing up those balloons (next time Mary). She sent me a lovely message after that night that said: ‘good to see you at Whirly on Saturday, hopefully see you there again when we can get time to chat and introduce you to the crew, have a good month dear one’.
MARY AND RICHARD, YOU ARE THE ‘DEAR ONE’S’: Beautiful faeries and immortals.
Later on I met a group of lovely young people and one of them, Ben, came and sat next to me for a chat. After meeting and chatting to all his mates we all made friends and I ended up spending much of the evening with them.
For the rest of the night I danced and danced. I haven’t danced like that for years.
I met so many wonderful people and I knew when I come again to Whirl-y-gig we would greet each other with warmth as new friends and I know that many of those amazing crazy souls will become friends outside of Whirl-y-gig too. I cannot really explain what I mean by the Whirly feeling but it is a kind of kingship, togetherness and a feeling of love. We hugged, we embraced and we danced the night away.
To be subjective, if I had any negatives to say about the night at all, it would be a minor one; I didn’t really like the venue. The corridor area with its low claustrophobic ceiling (that looked unfinished) seemed dark and a bit grubby. The dance floor is a bit too small and at times we felt like sardines packed together when the floor was at its busiest. I spoke to many people that night and many said they loved the vibe, they loved the music, and they loved the people but do not really like the venue. I know it’s hard to secure sights for clubs like this and of course this will not stop me from loving Whirly and coming back time and again but I think lovely old Whirl-y-gig deserves a better home.
But let’s forget the negatives, by the time the parachute was pulled out over us and we all sat on the floor for the chill moment, I felt warm inside. I felt loved and I felt like I belonged. Thank you to all the wonderful people I met on my return to Whirl-y-gig. Thanks to Ben and his crew, thanks to Richard and Mary, I love you all and I will be back in January.
Keep dancing my beautiful Whirly friends…