My first taste of Europe came in the form of a 27-day, 13 country tour of sun, sea and breath taking scenery accompanied with a mixed 40-count array of (mostly) young Australian thrill seekers, alcoholics and drama queens. Not quite fitting into any of the afore-mentioned categories, I found quick companionship in the only other coloured person on the tour. I wish to note that race had nothing to do with this friendship, we bonded over other things such as completing higher education and not hooking up with other people on the tour (ohh no she didn’t!) – and were dubbed Harold and Kumar for the duration of the trip.
After the tour ended, I planned to stay in London for a few more days to explore the city solo and see if I liked it enough to move here the next year. Taste before you buy, you know? It was evening by the time our tour got back to London, and we were completely shattered from sitting on a bus/ferry for the past 8 hours from Amsterdam, not to mention all the drinking that had been consumed the night before. Nonetheless we decided to make the most of our one night since Kumar was leaving to go back home the next day. The plan was firmly established: go back to our respective hotels to freshen up and more importantly, find somewhere to go. My extensive tourist google search of the London clubbing scene came up with lots of results from tripadvisor, etc, and not knowing any better, decided that DSTRKT in central London was the winner.
As we approached DSTRKT, we watched from afar as a couple were refused entry for reasons obviously unclear to them by the looks on their faces. The venue itself looked plain from the outside other than a red carpet presumptuously laid out on the sidewalk. There was no line, so we walked straight up to the host not really knowing what to expect. “Guestlist?” he asked. I shook my head, “we don’t have one, we’re not from here.” “You need a guestlist to come in”, he replied curtly, followed by a more piped up “Australian?”, as though just recognising my accent. Kumar and I exchanged some friendly conversation with him, which led to him letting us in. Not sure which worked more to our favour, our short dresses or our accents, but either way it was a win. After being shooed inside by the bouncers, the door girls asked expectantly for the entrance fee of £20. “Let these girls in for free”, the host chimed in behind us, he then gave us a free drink card each. Now this, I was used to in Melbourne, but very unexpected for London.
The VIP high, however, only lasted a short while once we realised every person in there had a clique which belonged to a table and were not interested in socialising with others. There was no dance floor, just a floor filled with half-moon shaped tables and people talking, drinking and occasionally swaying in their little respective circles. It was classy and glamourous, but definitely somewhere you’d visit with a group rather than your other coloured half. I was wearing heels but I still felt underdressed. Alcohol would loosen us up, I determined. Maybe it was still too early. After using up our one free drink, I ordered us 2 jagerbombs which cost a whopping £40 each. £40!? Ridiculous.
With my wallet very unhappy with me, we went to the bathroom to reassess our dire situation. In there, I started talking to this girl who invited us back to her table – a friend’s birthday we were told. We were poured some drinks and chatted for a little while, but like us, they weren’t really feeling the vibe of the place either so we left as a group for a club that was more on the ‘chill’ spectrum of the scale, had some fun there, became stranded at 3am wandering up and down the M&M store waiting for the tube to start its services for the day, ended up in a casino because Harold didn’t bring a jacket, got given £20 to play on a machine by a random gambler man (we lost it all) and eventually, with the full force of the sun shining outside, I nestled into the comfort of my hotel bed and slept for the next 12 hours.
Thanks, DSTRKT. You were my first.