Monday, July 2, 2012

Antichrist, 29th June

Chances are that you may have heard of Torture Garden, one of the longest-running, biggest alternative/fetish nights in England. They're so 'overground' these days that there are three full pages dedicated to the night in Time Out's 1000 Things to do in London. But you may not have heard of Antichrist. And you should, if you're into that kind of thing.

One question you tend to get asked when you chat to people in Antichrist is 'Are you here for the Goth or the Kink?' The other question you get asked is 'Have you been to Torture Garden?' Torture Garden seemed to polarise opinion among the Antichrist clubbers. I am theorising here, but it seemed if you were mostly at Antichrist for 'the Goth' then you had a lower opinion of TG because you don't like their music, but if you were at Antichrist for 'the Kink' then you enthused about TG because it has all the kink but better tunes. And this may be why Torture Garden is so well known compared to Antichrist. TG apparently plays a mix of music from electro to pop mash ups (I will confirm once I've been) but Antichrist is a lot more 'Rock'.  However, Antichrist is a little more relaxed when it comes to dress code apparently. They don't want you wearing ordinary daywear but as long as you've made a bit of an effort (black jeans, black gig t-shirt) you don't have to worry about being turned away. TG is supposedly more strict. Naturally, I made an effort because I need no encouraging, and with this kind of crowd, you knew most people would. I would say, that, once inside, you would be more likely to feel self-conscious if you didn't have your butt cheeks showing or a dildo somewhere on your costume. Unfortunately, no photography is allowed in there so I can’t show you what weird and wonderful things people were wearing.

So. Antichrist happens six times a year at Club Collosseum. We went for their 8th birthday party and we were promised 7 main areas, plus a few little ones - one was the Theatre of Sin where there were live acts and then 'metal' until 6 am, one was an Industrial dance room and one was a goth/alt dance area. Then there was a chillout bar area, a smoking area, a couples' dark room and the devil's playroom or dungeon.

We got there at around 11 so that we could see most of the acts in the Theatre of Sin, which started at 10. To be frank, this was not worth making the effort for. We missed the first two acts but were in time to see a live band, supposedly a mix of electronica and drums and guitars. It didn't hold our attention and we used the opportunity to wander around and get familiar with the club as we'd never been to the Collosseum or Antichrist before. After a very long hour of the same band, we came back to catch the magician. Someone I was with had seen him before and said that he could be very 'meh' until all of a sudden he did something and you were like 'whoa'. We watched and waited but 'meh' was the order of the day for us. Then we came back for the strippers. A lot of people had been eagerly anticipating this part  - it was obvious because when we came in as it was very crowded - too many people for me to see past given my short stature (even though I was in some killer heels). So I can't really pass judgment on them but Stephen wasn't all that impressed. At this point we more or less gave up on the Theatre, even though there was only one act to go and went to the chillout area where there was free cake in honour of the birthday, and to have a few more drinks.

You might be wondering what my answer was when people asked me whether I was there for the Goth or the Kink. Well, for me, it was a little of both. I had imagined that we would end up spending most of our night in the Pretty Fucking Industrial dance room as I thought it would be playing quite dark, clangy metallic-sounding dance music (like Closer by NIN). But that room turned out to be a total disappointment as the music was more like (to my ears) hard house. This may just show I know nothing about music genres. Having said that, I am not completely averse to a bit of rock/metal. In fact, my late teens, when I was beginning to get into music, were spent at a few different ‘rock’ nights (none too aggressive, being as I lived in rural Suffolk at the time) and my favourite club at Uni was a place called Spiders; where we would all dress up in black, get drunk on vodka for 50p or Pan Galactic Gargleblasters for £2.00 and jump around to Marilyn Manson and Crazytown. But for some reason I didn’t expect this kind of thing at Antichrist – I thought my taste would be too tame, that when the Theatre of Sin turned into a rock and metal dance floor, I’d probably like one song, but wouldn’t want to spend much time there. I couldn’t have been more wrong. It was amazing! It was like a playlist of all my favourite rock songs, as if I was transported instantly back to being 20 and in Spiders. It was in this room that they played Closer, plus System of a Down, plus Slipknot’s Wait and Bleed, plus Beautiful People, plus Korn. The list goes on. There wasn’t a mosh pit, so no getting trampled on, but plenty of room to let your hair down (literally) and jump around and head bang away, which I did to my heart’s delight. Fantastic.

So it turned out I was definitely there for the Goth, whether that had been my original intention or not. But I was also curious about the other side, and felt that, if for nothing than journalistic integrity, I had to see everything Antichrist had to offer. Downstairs in the Industrial room was a man, rolled up in carpet daubed with a plea to the Ladies to stand on him. I duly obliged. And upstairs in the Theatre was a dom lady, using her submissive man as a bench from which to watch the acts. But I knew this couldn't be as kinky as it got. It was time to visit the Devil's playroom. Inside there is an area within where people who want to get involved can do so, and then an area where you can sit and watch. We sat and watched people getting trussed up in all sorts of positions, and flogged and whipped, in various states of undress. And then we took a trip into the couples' darkroom, which, by the way, is a total misnomer. Instead of shadowy figures moving in the dark by which you might be able to hazard a guess as to what they were getting up to, it was pretty bright in there and no guesswork was required at all.  So it seems it would be well suited to the voyeur or to exhibitionists craving to be watched. However, it is a couple's room, which means the people in there are (in general) busy doing stuff with each other, attentive to each other, not watching what everyone else is doing. Any kick out of voyeurism is therefore more imagined than real. And it was pretty busy in there with people getting up to all sorts. Mostly there are chairs and sofas to relax or get frisky on, but there is also one medical chair complete with fastenable stirrups. And yes, it did get used during the night. Did I participate in this room I hear you ask? Well, I couldn't possibly say! (Am I keeping quiet to give you the impression I did when I didn't, or because I did and I don't want to admit it? YOU DECIDE!)

I will disclose that towards the end of the evening/early morning we went back to the dungeon to see if it was even still going. And it was, but the numbers were far reduced. Some guy who seemed to be getting electric shocks passed over him with something that looked like a miniature plastic garden fork, caught my eye and I went in for a closer look. The guy doing the 'electrocuting' beckoned me in and told me to hold a silver bar. Then he ushered Stephen over and told us to touch tongues. The tiniest of currents passed through us, tickling our tongues and making us giggle a little in shock. It was an intriguing and not at all unpleasant sensation. This machine was called a violet wand and came with all sorts of attachments. I wasn’t brave enough to have a go with the ‘garden fork’ but I did let him run one of the attachments over me and it felt pretty good! Not good enough for me to spend £900 on acquiring such an instrument, but it was pretty good having a go with one for free!

I had a whale of a time at Antichrist. I’ve always known that alternative/goths are some of the nicest and friendliest people you can ever meet, no matter how much rubber they have on and Antichrist just furthered my beliefs. Everyone was there to have a good time, in whatever form that meant to them. People were drinking, but no one was crazy-ass drunk. There was a really good atmosphere, and by the end of the night, everything felt so natural, nothing could surprise me. Coming back to work today has felt a bit like entering an alternative reality. I miss Antichrist!



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I work as an editor in educational publishing by day, and then spend most of my spare time discovering interesting things to do in London, and taking people there with my own Meetup.