lundi 19 mars 2018

Somebody told me...

You know when you're in that golden early phase with a new person you like, and you stay up late chatting, and there's so much to say that you keep talking over each other and giggling, and pulling out stories you'd forgotten all about like they're the most important thing in the world?

Well, for no apparent reason, I was recently telling a boy about the old days at Popstarz ('with a z', as I always have to helpfully add, as if the gay indie disco club night was, in fact, Liza Minelli). All about me and Russell and Leon and the outfits and the perfect playlist and how it was pretty much an indie kid's early 00s version of Studio 54. Just, you know, a lot grubbier and cheaper and with more Skunk Anansie. We knew everyone and they knew us, and we would spend all week planning our outfits.

We followed Popstarz as it moved around London: always on a Friday night, always playing the dance remix of 'Sylvie' by St Etienne at some point in the evening. The first time I went, it was at the Leisure Lounge in Holborn, underneath Boots. I remember I wore a red dress and platform shoes and I danced on a podium to Bis. It felt like I had found my place.

By the time it moved to the Scala in Kings Cross, I was probably 21. Russell and I used to go every week. I still have a photograph of us there on New Year's Eve, the night he accidentally punched me in the face while executing an ambitious dance move, and I spent the countdown to midnight trying to keep dancing and pretend my nose wasn't bleeding all over my favourite pale blue jeans. My outfit had been somewhat inspired by Madonna's video for 'Don't Tell Me'. It was probably for the best that I had to throw those jeans away.

I had some of the best times of my life dancing and drinking vodka with Russell at Popstarz, often to the Pixies. We were young and everything was ironic and everyone in that place was beautiful, in their vintage dresses and New York Dolls T-shirts and asymmetrical haircuts. We had crushes on everyone and we used to get there early, so that we could make the DJ play PJ Harvey for us.

That time only drew to a close when Russell decided to go back to art school and moved to Epsom, and I met my first serious boyfriend. We thought nothing would ever change, but of course it did, and our Popstarz life just gradually tailed off.

After I moved to Brighton, I only saw Russell once. We went to a bar in Soho and I can't remember what we talked about. I certainly didn't think it would be the last time I'd see him. He was the first boy I ever kissed (to 'Think Twice' by Celine Dion). Then we broke up as only dramatic teenagers can, and didn't speak to each other for a few years. When we bumped into each other again, he was wearing a Bjork T-shirt and I was wearing a black poloneck with a short bob, red eye make-up and an air of ennui. We became not so much best friends as twins. It was destructive and beautiful. It had to end sometime.

I don't know where he is now, what he does, even what he's like as a real grown-up. He followed me on Instagram this week, out of the blue, using the same nickname he had when I was seventeen and he was nineteen.

The last year that we knew each other, we used to drive around aimlessly for hours in his car, just talking. We made up a whole secret universe. He was obsessed with a song by a new band called the Killers (ha!). He played it into the ground, on repeat, while I begged him to make it stop. I always hated that song. I don't any more. When you grow up and songs take you back in time - to a boy's car, to a nightclub, even to a party that wasn't that much fun at the time - you never do.

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