A Frenchman, a card, a broken arm and the epiphany
Saturday afternoon, December 3rd 1994, somewhere in western Athens
He entered the cafeteria, where all his schoolmates used to gather on a Saturday afternoon for coffee and small talk. His mates waved at him. They were sitting on a table beside the big boys. Good choice, he thought, it was always entertaining to overhear the big boys chat about footie, music and clubbing. The main topic was the opening party several weeks ago and the blast everybody had had. He was well familiar with what the big lads were talking about. He and his mates had witnessed what would be a point of reference, a milestone in Athens nightclubbing for the years to come. They were so excited that they had become members that very night in order to jump the queue and save some money on the admission fee. That night a Frenchman was the special guest. He had run across a record of his, earlier that morning. At the time, there were no music genres – let alone subgenres – in his mind. As long as it was electronic and sounded right, he was game.
Saturday around midnight, December 3rd 1994, somewhere in central Athens
They took the last bus service, as per usual, to the city center. It was a good 20 minutes walk to the club, but that was no fuss. They were so anxious about what was going to happen that the distance and the cold were of minor importance. Outside the club a large queue was already forming. Three weeks ago, on the opening party, they were standing patiently one and a half hours in the cold to get in. Not this time he thought. They approached the bouncer and the face-controller jumping the queue with audacity. Upon showing their membership cards they were allowed in, amidst yelling and insults from the people in the queue. He smiled sardonically, as they walked the main entrance, already feeling goose bumps. He couldn’t tell if it were the lights, the smell, the banners, the people, but he would feel the same rush, every time he walked that door in the future. Any regular punter at the time would add to that.
First stop was the bar in the main room in order to get a refreshment drink. It was almost empty at that time, however there was little doubt that the place would be packed within the next hour. After half an hour or so, they were joined by the big lads. “Nice trick you pulled in the entrance, you little pricks”, one of them said.
The main room was starting to get really hectic, so he decided to visit the basement. He walked downstairs and headed straight away to the left of the booth against the locked door that led to the open theater behind the walls. That would be his spot until the club closed a few years later. He waved at the dj playing (a friend of a very close friend of his) and waited for his mates to join him. In front of the booth there was this guy from the record store wearing a white XXL Suburban Base tee dancing and shouting. Suddenly, the helicopter dropped*. From that moment on, he decided that he would spend most of the night on that spot.
Minutes later, a guy with a broken arm and a pair of glasses joined the booth. Everybody was looking rather astonished at the guy picking up the first record. They all stood there stunned out of curiosity, how would the lad play with practically one arm? One of his mates commented that this was the guy scheduled to play two weeks ago.
Track after track the set was building up to a climax. What the hell was this music he was playing, how come he didn’t come across it? It was exactly the situation where one hums a tune and prays that he will not forget it in the next morning (the definition of a good set by the way, if you asked him). Alas, there were many tunes to hum that night. The set finished with a big applause from the crowd, and a resident dj walked in. He walked upstairs to the lobby/chill out room whistling THE tune (see part 3, the track will be revealed on the last part – 5) trying to realize what had just happened down the basement. Epiphany one may call it, he had just discovered the musical path that would haunt his life from then on.
The Frenchman was still on the decks in the main room and the place was going mental. People were dancing and sweating to the sounds of the French trance/techno master. That very record** he bought earlier that morning at the record store was played twice or maybe three times? A couple of hours later they were on their way home with the first morning bus service. Throughout the journey he was humming THE tune. One of his mates feeling sleepy and tired told him to shut it up for a change. “Piss off; this was the highlight of the night, my holy grail”, he answered laughing.
After 18 years or so, all this has become a blur. “All the faces, all the voices blur, change to one face, change to one voice…” Robert Smith used to sing. The butterflies in the stomach are still alive though, reminiscing that night. He woke up the next morning and the tune was still stuck in his mind. Lucky there, you don’t get this really often, do you?
*That would be Helicopter Tune by Deep Blue on Moving Shadow. He always used codenames for tracks he really liked or could not id at the time.
** That would be the single-sided vinyl Astral Dreams by Laurent Garnier on F Communications.
End of part 4, part 5 (the last part) coming up soon
Part 5 teaser:
Somewhere in west London January 2012