The A21 Campaign

A21, London

This weekend saw hundreds of volunteers spend their Saturday in and around London raising awareness for a really important cause – the A21 campaign, which is a non-profit organisation aimed at preventing human trafficking through awareness.

One of the statistics that blew my mind was that there are an estimated 27 million slaves in bondage across the world. Furthermore, the average age of the victims is just 12 years old and only 1 – 2% of the victims are ever rescued.

The theme of the day was #27for27 – 27 people in 27 boroughs raising awareness for the 27 million slaves. We went around London dressed in black with tape covering our mouths and handing out leaflets to as many people as we could. The response was generally positive and we even managed to get some screen time with a film crew who were making a project with the aid of Stephen Fry.

While some people were genuinely interested in the cause there were some people that were particularly close minded – one guy saying “not bovvered” in a Catherine Tate style, stood out. Regardless of this, we managed to distribute all our leaflets and even received tweets from Channel 4 and made it into the BBC building. 
All in all, the day was a success and I am proud to have been part of such a great cause.

To learn more about the campaign, visit: http://www.thea21campaign.org/

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The Dead-End West End

Clubs, London, music

I went clubbing recently and had one of those rare occurrences – I actually enjoyed every night out. Thursday was a west London thing, Friday we hit South London, Saturday – East and finally Sunday was north. There’s only one place missing from that mix: Central London (or the West End as the locals call it). Indeed, I have no doubt that had one of those nights involved a trip up West, it would have almost certainly ended in disappointment.

When I was younger, there was nothing more exciting than a night out in central London. The music was great, the girls were hot, the clubs were huge. However, over time these seemingly magical elements have been eroded away as each night became more mediocre than the last.

For a while I just couldn’t put my finger on why these nights were becoming so lackluster but now after a few nights out in places where I have had a good time, I believe I have finally managed to pinpoint why West End clubbing is the pits.

1. Mainstream R&B hurts my soul

In 2012, if you go to an R&B night you are almost guaranteed to hear music from any one of the following: Taio Cruz, David Guetta, Flo-Rida and to some extent, JLS. Now, I’m not one to knock another man’s hustle and I may even begrudgingly catch myself nodding my head to the occasional Taio hit (his tunes are catchy, damnit), but not one of the aforementioned acts can honestly classify themselves as real R&B. And yet club promoters and mainstream DJ’s still insist on polluting the club nights with their music. I’m trying to get my dougie on, bust a little robot but I can’t do that when there’s europop being blasted out of the speakers.

via musicofelectro.files.wordpress.com

Another habit that these clubs seem to do is play R&B songs but then mix them with dance beats thus rendering the original syrupy goodness, unrecognisable. I mean, one or two are OK, but a whole night of this?? Is this really what we’re doing now?

2. DJ’s Are Too Safe

In 2002, when I’d just started out on the clubbing scene, I would get to the club and hear tunes from 2002.

In 2012, when I go out in the West, I get to the club and hear tunes from 2002.

10 years have passed and DJ’s are still playing “Hot in herrre”. My friend recently said she went to a student night in Brighton and the DJ’s were playing all the songs that we used to listen to when we were at Uni. So just what is going on?? What happened to the days when DJ’s would take risks and drop a song that nobody knew? Wasn’t it the DJ’s job to break new artists? I don’t see how that will happen when we’re still hearing Fatman Scoop, Usher’s Yeah and other so called hits. It’s a sad state of affairs that most of these mainstream clubbers will never hear a Drake or a Rick Ross song in the club these days as we’re too busy with the standard early naughties playlist

3. People Don’t Dance No More

On the rare occasions that I actually make it to a club in the West End and the music is good and I want to shake a leg (in the proverbial sense) I usually look around to judge the vibe. At this point I’m usually met with disapproving looks from guys posted up against the wall, arms folded looking angry. The conversation between myself and my mates usually goes like this:

Me: Wow, the music is sounding really good in there. Can’t wait to dance and have a good time.
Friend: Are you sure? This crowd look like the type of people who will give you a beat down if you look like you’re having too much fun.
Me: Oh.


Yep, in these tough times of recession and frugality, it seems as if in certain clubs, dancing and having a good time is frowned upon. If you’re not “screwfacing” and acting hard in the club then you’re not a real man and people will look down on you. I’m not advocating an all out ‘You Got Served’ style dance-off in this dancery (my jeans are too tight and my clothes are too damn nice these days), but a few choice moves and some smiles on faces wouldn’t be entirely out of place surely?

So…

After coming to the above conclusions, what’s my stance on West End clubbing? I guess they’re caught in a trap where they have to be all things to all people, hence playing that watered-down R&B that’s so popular nowadays. When they do play anything remotely related to what I call ‘real R&B’, it’s likely to be the tried and tested tunes from 10 years back that will get the mainstream crowd nostalgic of a simpler time *sighs*.

But listen up, club promoters – I will not be fooled by your attempts at selling me a fabricated clubbing dream born out of laziness. I’ve sampled alternatives outside the West End… and I can tell you… it is good. Music that hasn’t been watered down, tunes that have come out in the last decade and an atmosphere full of good vibes, dancing and shiny, happy people. Yes, there is more to life than the West End and as soon as the clubs, promoters and the tourists realise this, we can all enjoy 2012 clubbing just that bit better.

So what do you think? Do you still enjoy clubbing or has it become a cliched experience? How can it be made better? Am I right? Or are there other factors coming into play in this West End clubbing conundrum?