Culture

About Last Night

Sometimes a single photo can transport you straight back to the music, the mishaps, the morning-after regret. To celebrate the reopening of nightlife in the capital, each month we ask a Londoner to share the story behind the snapshot.

By Loretta De Feo

10 April 2021

I identified pretty early on in the pandemic, that the thing I miss the most is ‘The Possibility’.

The possibility that the night you are about to go out on, might just be the greatest night of your life or the person you randomly meet might just be the most interesting person in the world. That’s possible in London, if you go out and go with the flow.

The year was 2008. I was 25 and working as a Live Tour Booker in a music agency.

I lived in Hackney with one flat mate. Our rent was cheap (because the landlord was not meant to be renting it out). And my social life was cheap because I went to work-related gigs, club nights that friends were running or warehouse parties where you could bring your own drink.

My hair was chemically relaxed, damaged (because I was visiting terrible salons) and always side parted and swept over one eye. My clothes were from Beyond Retro, American Apparel or charity shops and when it came to accessories it was always ‘more is more’. My music taste was always eclectic; moving between genres and scenes depending on my mood. It was normally indie and rock for gigs and hip hop and garage on my iPod.

I had one aim in 2008 and that was to ‘find the fun’.

‘My social life was cheap because I went to work-related gigs, club nights that friends were running or warehouse parties where you could bring your own drink’

On this night, I had sorted tickets for Kanye West at the O2 for me and my now ex-boyfriend. We were both coming straight from work and had arranged to meet outside the venue. He didn’t show up (he said he’d “had a nightmare at work, forgotten.” I am, of course, still raging) but I wasn’t going to miss it, so I made my way to the gig.

The gig (in my opinion) was terrible. It wasn’t ‘good Kanye’ – and with my bad mood, I made the decision to leave and write the night off.

On my way out, I saw that the stage adaptation/opera of Monkey: Journey to the West by Chen Shi-Zheng, Damon Albarn and Jamie Hewlett was in another area of the O2. It was a show booked through my music agency and something told me to try and get in. After a beggy text to my work friend, I was given a pass and led in – only to find that the show was just ending. I did what any cocky music worker would do and I made my way to the after-party bar and waited. For anyone.

A few minutes later, Imran (right) and Alex (left) walked in. I knew Alex’s face from the gig scene and Imran and I had grown up in the same small town. Imran ran an indie night called FROG in Central London, which I never missed, but we barely knew each other then.

‘Mos Def and Nas...were just there for a good time. At one point, after Damon Albarn did a forward roll into me, taking me clean out, I remember thinking ‘I shouldn’t be witnessing this.’

I genuinely thought it was going to be a low-key and chilled evening – especially after an opera. But it was the opposite. So many of my favourite artists were there including Mos Def and Nas. We hovered around them nervously but they were just there for a good time, dancing wildly. In fact, everyone was getting pretty wild. At one point, just after Damon Albarn did a forward roll into me, taking me clean out, I remember thinking ‘I shouldn’t be witnessing this.’

I remember laughing a lot with Imran and Alex and completely forgetting how miserable I had been earlier. It turned into one of the most fun nights of my life. I’m just praying London can reclaim some of that old magic and spontenaity once everything opens back up.

Loretta is the founder of the award-winning haircare range DIZZIAK.

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