Since 2016 is already a hideously sad year, here is a hideously sad truth: one day, we're going to go out for the last time. This night will not announce itself, or be premeditated, but at some point everyone of will hang up their Cheap Mondays for good and slide into a pair of maroon-coloured elasticated slacks straight out of the back of The Mail on Sunday. Obviously, not everyone hits 40 and immediately swaps house nights for Homebase—you'll still find the occasional graver losing their shit to psytrance at Boomtown—but on the whole, most of us are likely to interested in Coast repeats and than we are the next Clock Strikes 13 series.
Now, no-one plans to go on their last night out ever, because a) that would be ridiculously organised and b) would only end in gin-scented tears. But that's what makes the phenomenon so interesting. You won't go clubbing for a few weeks, and those weeks will become months, and those months will become years, and those years will become forever. There could be any number of reasons that spark that decline; bad experiences, boredom, responsibilities or too many people banging too much speed. We love to talk about popping first pingers or first ever clubs but this time, we've gone back to the future and spoken to some older clubbers about their last big nights out.
Dave, 46, Shropshire
The last ever rave/club night, other than a couple of reunions that I've done lately, was Gatecrasher in Birmingham, December 31st 1999. It was New Year's Eve and the legendary Sasha was playing along with Judge Jules, Tall Paul, John Kelly and a few more. The atmosphere was absolutely buzzing—so many people together in one place with so much love for the music and DJs. The one tune that sticks out in my mind that was played that night was Talisman's "Only You. Still gives me goosebumps when I hear it today. This was my last night raving/clubbing as my then fiance was pregnant, but I still manage to DJ locally round pubs, bars and parties.
Lesley, 59, Bournemouth
My last regular clubbing days were, sadly, in the 1980s. I'd just moved up to Croydon and we used to go to Tiffany's in Purley with my new husband and a group of work friends. I remember it having pretty awful music and quite luxurious décor—lots of bling and circular booths.
Those days were very different from my serious clubbing times back in Bournemouth where there was a great scene in the 1970s. I loved the Maison Royal and Le Cardinal, where we went every Friday as sixth formers. Of course, that was when we were actually old enough to go clubbing. Before that we used to go to Tiffany's in Boscombe from the age of 14. No one ever asked for ID in those days.
Lennon, 45, Birmingham
I caught the tail end of the acid house parties and was a free partier from about 1990. After the huge illegal rave at Castlemorton I moved onto the club circuit, and did loads of parties around the UK, but largely my home was the Institute in Birmingham.
The last big night I remember being at before retiring was the legendary first Atomic Jam at the Que Club. The vibe had been changing over the years though, as more cocaine started moving into clubland. It was the natural, tribal, loved up feeling that accompanied those earlier parties that I loved, and as that started to fade, so did my love of it. I partied very hard in my five years, but knew when to call it a day. Atomic Jam was the only club night I went to on the guest list and the roof was blown off that night. I miss the old days, but the scene changed, as did the drugs and the people. Oh, and those original Doves, too.
Mike, 29, London
My last dance was at the age of 29, at my old regular. I was already semi-retired by that point, but it was then that it died for me. My last night was as fun and crazy as any other night had been over the last 12 years, but I felt like a stranger. The venue's name remained the same, but the layout was different from how it used to be, the music (previously a constant stream of metal at varying degrees of heaviness) had been turned down and diluted with pop and classic rock, the staff I'd formed a rapport with during my peak years at the club had gone and been replaced with newbies who had as much interest in me as I had in them, and half the people there were a good decade my junior.
I didn't know anyone apart from the friends I was with, and didn't really feel like I had anything in common with anyone outside of our little gang. I felt like I'd lost my connection with the venue and with the scene altogether. It was still fun being out (and I did play it out to the end, and then go home with a lass a couple of years older than myself who seemed to mirror my feelings), but the sense of detachment and repetition killed it for me. When you get older, it's time for other things.
Kieran, 50, North Wales
I was involved in the free party rave scene from 1991. Taking my first pill, an Einstein, was a revelatory experience. Previously I was a drinker but taking that first pill opened up a whole new world. The feeling of love and unity was incredible with my fellow ravers. My last big night was in a basement party in North Wales, Bangor in 1999. It was after raving in a quarry in the hills for two days at a free party, being awake that whole time and we came back to a mate's house. This was a renowned party house with three levels in the place.
The basement was techno and as you moved upwards it got increasingly chilled. Different rooms and different music. With a chill out room at the top. But the vibe in the basement room was increasingly aggressive, lots of young lads, in groups, high on speed had come back from the traveller party. The ecstasy vibe wasn't there. I was there with my girlfriend at the time and we had to leave. It felt too threatening. Other drugs had been introduced into the scene. Don't get me wrong, I loved whizz but on its own with a big bunch of lads drinking Carlsberg Special Brew it wasn't a good combination.
Davey Raver, 51, Cotswolds
The last free party I went to was in 2005, and the police arrived on masse and threatened to seize the equipment we'd carried across the fields to a spot high up on the hill overlooking Gloucester. Apparently they'd been alerted to it by the flashing lights which could be seen for miles and miles panoramically, we'd only had it up and running for an hour but I'd double dropped ecstasy about 20 minutes before the police arrived and really was in no condition to carry equipment. Soon after I started driving HGVs for a living, and so had to stop or risk losing my license.
A notable story from another of my last nights was in North Wales, where a lad had a massive handful of shrooms and washed it down with a Guinness. About half an hour later he disappeared until about 7 AM when he came back he had no shirt and was covered in mud from his waist up. We, being concerned, asked him where he had been and he said he found a hole in the ground and wanted to be warm and secure but the hole wasn't quite big enough for him to squirm into. Turns out he had been building himself a bigger hole throughout the night!
Lizzy, 20, Southampton
I'm not the kind of person who likes to spend their nights out clubbing. I don't drink alcohol, so the idea of going out clubbing for the night has never appealed to me, because I don't see the point if you don't drink. Every now and again I do go out to a bar, but I just have water.
My last night out was when I went on a social with my kickboxing club at the local Yates. It's kind of loud, and too busy for me to be comfortable in. The entire thing drained me emotionally and mentally, so I left two hours in.
My Mum, 53, Croydon
I'd probably say my last real clubbing 'hurrah' was in the summer of 1983 when I was 19. My Sixth Form was really divided in terms of music 'camps' and I was truly in the Jazz Funk and Soul crowd. Every Saturday night when there wasn't a house party we would groove to the sounds at clubs like Sinatra's in Croydon, Cinderella's in Purley or the Cat's Whiskers in Streatham. I have vivid memories of being squashed into the back seat of a friend's car, the windows wound down, and the dreamy sounds of Shakatak mingling with the warm summer air.
We'd all just finished at High School and most of us went straight into jobs rather than going to uni. Sadly, the group gradually lost touch as we all started socialising with our work colleagues and began the next phase of our lives.
Some personal details have been changed.