The pagans of Beltane know how to do it. Annabel Chong knows how to do it. But clubbers seem to need a helping hand.
Does SHAGTAG spell the end of
SpOﬂtﬂﬂEitY? Words: Jack Mottram Photographs: Steve Reid
CLUBBING AND HEDONISM HAVE ALWAYS gone hand in hand. The traditional combination of sex. drugs and rock ‘n’ roll (or similar) offered up in a conﬁned space should make that inevitable. In the past, all a club promoter had to do was mix up the heady brew of fashionable narcotics, popular music and the opportunity to cop off. and watch as the punters got all carried away. But that was then. These days they’re forced to remind the clubbing public to have a good time.
Admittedly. the dynamics of clubbing are bound to shift. I‘m not saying we should all still be listening to rare groove and sneering at somebody‘s hairstyle, or sporting moustaches and perfecting double-jointed dance moves on a talc—strewn ﬂoor. But the fact remains that an archetypal club of the past relied on a decent DJ, a doorman with a good eye for appropriate revellers and a ready supply of social lubricants. Result: instant hedonism.
Take Club 2000. the New York nightspot that ushered in the non-exclusive clubbing so prevalent today. Promoter Michael Alig had a flair for shock tactics, but this was as nothing compared with the deranged, orgiastic behaviour of his Club Kids, who managed to embrace a Ketamine-fuelled, sex—crazed hedonism without much prompting.
favoured by sex industry freelancers, the need for Shagtag to exist must be seen as a sign of club fatigue. The clubbing fraternity is no longer a group of hedonists in search of a venue, but a group of lost souls who need to be reminded of the purpose of their night out in the first place; in this case. getting laid.
Of course, the night is a success and is refreshing in its honest appraisal of the base motives behind the average night out, but it seems reasonable to assume that Shagtag will be remembered as a precursor to seminal nights of the future with names like Remember To Take Drugs or You Are Here To Dance.
There is another possible interpretation. At the risk of offending both sexual camps. a non-participatory observer at Shagtag is likely to come away with the impression they are
An observer is likely to come away with the impression they . are watching straight people engaging in a grotesque ' pantomime version of gay attitudes to fucking
Contrast that with Archaos’s Wednesday-nighter Shagtag. for example. and the difference between a traditional club (or. more accurately. traditional clubbers) and the new breed is immediately apparent. Shagtag, for those who haven’t attended the Glasgow club. is named after a complex procedure designed to take the hassle out of attracting the opposite sex. Everyone
through the door is presented with a number and, should someone catch your eye, the idea is to note their number and leave a message on the club’s notice board, signing off with your own numeral. All being well, the object of your affection checks the board. and heads off in search of his or her potential paramour. Aside from the disturbing combination of playground kiss— chase and the calling cards
watching straight people engaging in a grotesque pantomime version of gay attitudes to fucking. That’s fucking or drunken rutting as opposed to making love, for there exists no mechanism in the established preambles to hetero-copulation for the straightforward pattern adhered to on the dancefloors of Bennet‘s or the Polo Lounge.
These interpretations may, of course, be bunkum. but the fact remains that a worrying trend is on the rise. A successful night is now one that tells its patrons how to have fun. Must we conclude that, post-acid, clubbing has become an end in itself, the kids have lost sight of the main ingredients of a night out: sex and drugs and rock ‘n’ roll“?
Shagtag is at Archaos, Glasgow, Wednesdays.
27 Apr—ll May 2000 THEllS‘I'TI