House parties are still banned in the UK, unless you count group Zoom calls, in which case I never want to get stuck next to you at an actual house party.
That government mandate makes this column – “House Party Review” – a little tricky to pull off. So, like the last instalment, instead of pitching up at a stranger’s house in Clapton and drinking as many cans as possible before the blue bag goes missing, we’re looking to the past: the year 2005, and the launch party for Viva La Bands, a compilation CD compiled by Bam Margera.
The mid-2000s were an interesting time for pop culture. Case in point: this party took place at the B.E.D nightclub in New York. What was once an exclusive venue-of-the-moment, popularised in part by the Sex and the City episode where Carrie loses her shit at her ex’s friends shortly after she gets dumped via Post-It note, seemed like a strange location to promote a CD featuring Cradle of Filth and The Rasmus.
I spoke to DJ Josh Madden – co-partner of the music management and production house MDDN, alongside his brothers and Good Charlotte members, Joel and Benji – to see what he could remember from behind the decks that night.
The party was at the now-defunct B.E.D restaurant turned lounge bar in West Chelsea, New York, where wealthy patrons were encouraged to dine fully-clothed with their shoes on in double beds. As far as gimmicks go, it’s obviously a bit wanky, and according to a piece on Punch Drink, “The Rise and Fall of Beds in Clubs”, you could be escorted out for trying to sneak in a nap.
“B.E.D was a club that we would never get into,” Josh tells me over the phone. “Like, no one who was at that party that night would ever be at that club.”
Having rocked up on a bike and parked up around the corner, the bouncers would often take one look at Josh and refuse him entry, despite the fact he was there to DJ. “I’d walk up to the door, and I have a backpack on, and they’d be like, ‘The fuck out of here!’”
Around 350, give or take.
Spotted among the guests were pro-wrestler Hulk Hogan, his daughter Brooke Hogan, Kelly Osbourne, radio personality Rude Jude Angelini and, of course, Bam himself.
“Hulk Hogan’s family had a show, Kelly was from a show and Bam was from the show, so it’s kind of like a bunch of MTV reality stars getting together – they have that in common,” says Josh. “I can say that I have spent time with them and they’re all very, very, very sweet, nice people.”
A quick glance at the photos will show you this era wasn’t exactly huge on “flair” – all the guests are dressed in jeans and a T-shirt, minus Brooke Hogan, who’s in a bandeau dress accessorised with a bedazzled flip phone. “At that time, it was all just kids in, like, ratty thrift store clothes,” says Josh. “I’d just roll up to the club in jeans and a T-shirt, which now is normal, but at the time DJs used to have to look super fly.”
It was during this era that MTV started to make reality TV celebrities out of rockstars, skateboarders and other people with lip piercings, bringing that aesthetic more into the mainstream.
“There was this theme of scenes that nobody cared about that, all of a sudden, everybody cared about,” says Josh. “It was, like, poor kids that wore skinny jeans from [New York City store] Trash and Vaudeville that wanted to look like the New York Dolls, and this was even before Hedi Slimane [then-creative director of Dior Homme] had exploded. And the Viva La Bam crew were like something from Lords of Dogtown. It was a mix of tattoo guys and gay kids and cute girls, smart people and all these different cultural crowds, and everybody just became OK with it, and I really loved it. I will say this, though: everybody wore eyeliner.”
Despite Bam making his name by doing shit like waking his parents up via setting fireworks off in their bedroom, or supergluing his own hands to his best friend’s beard, the party was anything but chaotic.
“Nobody there was doing anything wild,” says Josh. “It was like... this is goofy. Like, it’s a goofy place and a goofy idea. Someone at MTV probably had a party there the week before and were like, ‘Hey man, why don’t we do it here?’ This was a really weird time in culture. Corporations were paying attention to what was going on at the dance nights at these little shitty bars where we got together and played, like, Le Tigre.”
What Josh is describing is essentially the beginning of influencer culture: as social media started to democratise the ability to reach an audience, big brands increasingly began plastering their names all over these kinds of events, in the hope they’d reach the cool young things who idolised bands like Sum 41.
Josh can’t remember the outdoor area, so I pulled up some ancient Yelp reviews to piece together what getting some fresh air at B.E.D might have felt like:
“i honestly did not enjoy my time here- HOWEVER, i like the outdoor roof area” - Joolie T, 2006
“I really give the clubish main floor section of BED maybe 2 stars, but I gave 3 stars for the upstairs lounge on roofdeck for its atmosphere, view, beds as lounge areas, space and 2 bars. Its good to chill with good company as there are the pretentious people in that area, whilst all the wierdos and euro trash are down on the dance floor with bad dancing” - Erifili K, 2007
The night was presumably sponsored by Bud Light, as we see both Bam and Hulk Hogan holding the brand’s bright blue beer bottles, sporting some very y2k branding. All that low percentage booze must have caught up with Bam at some point, as he’s later snapped clutching a glass of orange juice.
“The music would be really different” Josh explains – meaning different from what you’d have found on the Viva La Bands CD the event was promoting.
“You’d play the Misfits’ ‘Fiend Club’, Blondie’s ‘Heart of Glass’ and Le Tigre, and you’d play the Yeah Yeah Yeahs’ ‘Date with the Night’ and go into The Horrors or Peaches’ ‘The Teaches of Peaches’.
“Bloc Party were always around – they were key for that time. You’d play them, and the fucking Arctic Monkeys, and Test Icicles. Oh, I remember meeting Dev Hynes around that time and he had this wild emo hair!”
When asked about club toilets, Josh has a bone to pick with London: “There’s always someone there holding the soap, and you can buy a cigarette. Like, I just want to wash my hands.”
I’m sorry, Josh. I’m also going to take it from this response that there were no free lollies in the B.E.D loos.
“If you turned off the lights, it looks like a fucking mattress store,” Josh laughs. “As a DJ, you’re there until the end of the night, fucking 4AM, and the lights come on and you’re like… this is a literally mattress store.”
At that point, it’s time to get out of B.E.D and straight into bed.