There are, broadly speaking, two types of after party. Both are beset with pitfalls. Both should be approached with care, in the same way you approach a hot bath after a bikini wax: gingerly, and with great trepidation.
You see, the thing about after parties is that they always seem like a good idea at the time. But often- they’re not. The trick is to distinguish the after party worth going to – the one where you’re going to meet a load of interesting people or even a fit guy – from the ones not worth going to.
Now, the problem with after-parties is that they’re so damned hard to predict. To a certain extent, you’ve got to commit to going to one before you can tell whether it’s going to be seriously shit. And, infuriatingly, sometimes they can be slow burners: you might leave after an hour because the crowd seems dull and the sound system’s not working, only for someone to gloatingly tell you the next day that the party turned awesome when some DJ duo from Hackney Wick rocked up with a set of decks and your friendly neighbourhood drug dealer.
So, let’s move to a discussion of the first type of after party: The House Party
Oh man, these ones are hard. Now, the ideal afterparty for me, at least, is with your close mates in someone’s house (obviously, never your own). You want minimal tagalongs unless they’re fit and you/one of your mates is trying to score them, and really the vibe you’re going for is somewhere where you can transition back into the real world as gently and gradually as possible. In these type set-ups you’ll generally polish off the drugs to start, then start on the booze, and then cosy up with a classic film- 91 Jump Street or Mean Girls is the ideal. You cotch a couple of hours sleep on the sofa and then promptly head out to get wankered in a local pub before falling into bed, well-rested and re-adjusted and ready for when Monday morning rears its ugly head again.
This is, of course, a tame afterparty. This is to after-parties what ‘It’s a Small World’ is to ‘Space Mountain’. It’s not going to rock your world, but you probably won’t end up hoarse from all the screaming (my voice is always the first casualty of any decent bender, which makes calling in sick a unique challenge).
There is another type of after house-party that's more troublesome territory to negotiate. You see, when you hit the gold standard: that elusive cocktail of a lively crowd, enough people you know but enough strangers in the mix to keep things interesting when you bump into them in a darkened corridor, good music and, of course, proximity to your house for when it’s time to stumble home under cover of night – well, once you’ve gone Club Class, it’s hard to go back to slumming it in a half-empty soft-furnished flat in Clapton with someone’s iPod playing Majestic Casual and a warm vodka lemonade that tastes more bitter as you rapidly realise, with a growing sense of discomfort and a brooding comedown, that you’re in a room full of no-hopers, miles from home.
The problem, of course, with after-parties at someone’s house is that they can quickly go from hedonistic and debauched to – let’s admit it, a bit seedy. That awful moment when you’ve realised you’ve over-stayed your welcome and, essentially, you’re in someone else’s house, only dressed like a skank and stinking of booze- well, it’s no one’s finest hour.
The key, of course, is to develop a good exit strategy. Always, always, leave under cover of darkness. You do not want to have to suffer the humiliation of stepping out into a brightly lit, busy road with matted hair and patchy foundation, eyeliner askew and ripped tights. Trust me when I say that will kill your buzz, especially when you inevitably bump into someone you know.
The second type of after-party is, in a way, more straightforward.
Club after-parties can be a mixed bag: get it right and you can enjoy a couple more blissful hours of clubbing where the night stretches on and you don’t even think about work the next morning. Get it wrong and, well, you’re liable to end up clubbing with a bunch of freaks in some dingy warehouse, whilst outside healthy, normal people are going about their everyday business, not turning baggies inside out and begging strangers for tampons because you’ve been out for 14 hours and you’re all out.
Last weekend really impressed upon me the importance of having a coherent after-party strategy. Date night with the new LOML ended up with us discussing house prices with our new estate agent NBF at a well-known weekly afterparty (don’t want to name it and slam it) at 10am. In other words, it went rapidly downhill. Of course, I wouldn’t have it any other way (although maybe I wouldn’t have spilled an emergency mango Rubicon on myself halfway through the night, or thought it would be a good idea to eat the free cupcakes on offer in a Hoxton basement birthday bash), but I love spontaneous clubbing and, besides, free cake is free cake.
The problem is when you realise that what you thought was going to be a relatively civilised after-party has turned into a horror show. Now, I love this particular club night (morning?!)- the music is genuinely amongst the best you’ll hear in London – but, fuck me, the crowd is bizarre. I felt like I was in Where’s Wally? – everywhere you look you see some ridiculous character, and after a while you start to disconnect with reality and think that forty-something Italian women wearing white puffa jackets and ski glasses are normal, and you’re the one who looks out of place. At one point, I shit you not, a little old lady in a bobble hat walked past us. I saw an old dude who looked exactly like my retired headmaster at school. It probably was him. It was a bit of a creature-fest, and not in a good way.
So, as with all good things in life, we decided to call it a day and cut our losses before shit got even weirder. LOML’s phone going off with a work reminder for the following morning at 10.30 was a definite dampener on our mood- no one wants to be reminded of work when they’re out. But, frankly, I couldn’t handle anymore anyway.
See, the thing with after-parties is, if you don’t know when to call it- well, there’s a danger that you become the exhibit. You might think you’re better than all the freaks and weirdos you’re clubbing with, but if you’re not careful, you can become the creature that everyone else is gawping at. And trust me, you don’t want that. No one wants to be a creature. So, listen to my advice- and know when to recognise the party’s over. It’s done. Time to go home guys. Until next week, that is.