"Torture Garden has been going for 25 years," says Benjamin Louche, the MC on stage in the leopard print suit, the Elvis quiff. "That's a lot of lube under the bridge."
Picture this. You are in a converted former theatre in Elephant and Castle, a huge, cavernous space afforded grandeur by its vast stage, high ceiling (from which a giant disco ball hangs like a tear) and intricate cornicing. Even though it's only 11pm you are surrounded by the freakiest crowd likely to congregate anywhere in London.
Next to you a man in a PVC dress with the words 'dead inside' daubed on the back spins around, while a guy in a Robin Hood outfit with a fox's tail poking from the back pushes past. Elsewhere, a dude in an Indian headdress is being pleasured while a trans woman in a PVC maid's outfit is being spanked by a petite Japanese girl. In a cage.
While Louche launches into a raucous version of Marc Almond and Jim Feotus's "Slut," girls dance around poles while a guy in pink latex chaps and a trucker hat shakes his stuff. Later, Louche makes way for the first of several acts on the main stage. A woman in lingerie sets fire to the tiers of her pronged headgear before igniting another ingénue in diamante nipple tassles. The crowd roars in appreciation.
Torture Garden, or TG as its often known, has been going for a quarter of a century, which is a bloody long time in club years, and is unheard of as far as fetish parties are concerned. Mention to an old-timer who used to go in the nineties that you are attending and he'll likely scratch his head, surprised that it's still open. And yet the party has gone from strength to strength, more popular than ever before, with a crew of latex and PVC-clad punters stretching all the way from The Coronet's door to the tube station before 11pm. With its spanking chambers, "medical experiment" room and sexy "couple's room," TG offers a Berlin-esque freedom in an increasingly conservative London. If you want to walk around in just a harness and a Prince Albert then no-one's going to stop you.
But what kind of tunes keep the party going at an event like this, where the emphasis is split between dancing in the main floor and "other activities" elsewhere? In the past it was anything from industrial to electro to techno. These days, while TG has different DJs playing competing styles from rock n' roll to twenties lounge in its various rooms, the meat and drink is a raucous blend of house and EDM.
"When I DJ at Torture Garden I try to play some noisy music to serve discipline to the crowd,' says Larry Tee, notorious former NYC Club Kid, promoter of Berlin's Krank and TG mainstay. "I would never play sure ball grinding music anywhere else, but the distortion sounds good when you're in that big room."
As to what to wear when you're DJ-ing, Larry has the following advice: "Wearing a sick outfit is only important from the waist up as that's all they get to see."
Beginning his 2.30am set with Shmix's "Smthng (Bonus Electro Mix)" overlaid with a sample referencing 'shit stabbing, cock sucking,' Larry certainly knows what will fly in an environment like this. Earlier in the evening, David TG, the club's co-promoter and founder kicks off festivities with a bunch of abrasive, noise-heavy bangers, including Dyro's "Like a Boss", "Phat Bass 2016" by Wolfpack and Warp Brothers and "The Grave" by Black Tiger Sex Machine X Apashe Feat. Gabriella Hook. It was that kind of night.
Keen to discover the thoughts of my fellow clubbers on just why this type of music fires up the party so well I chat to Stevie, a man in his late sixties who is sporting an intricately bejewelled cock ring and nipple clamps. "Well it's pumping isn't it," he gasps. "The most important thing is, consider your audience. What is it they wanna do? If it's sex then the music has to be banging too, right? Stands to reason."
I consider his words as I head upstairs to the balcony that overlooks the main floor and observe a man in a giant cat's head enjoying himself with a woman wearing only black masking tape. Then I start to wonder how painful it will be for her when she rips that masking tape off later. But then maybe that's part of it.
There is no doubt that the soundtrack that David TG, Larry Tee and others provide suits the carnivalesque mood of Torture Garden perfectly. Huge EDM riffs, crazy sped-up vocals and whacked-out long dubstep malaises seem to perfectly complement the decadent vibe of the party. But I can't help wondering whether the very best of TG is reserved for the performers and DJs themselves rather than the clubbers.
Larry Tee describes his DJ routine to me while playing the club while also alluding to the no-doubt eye-popping sights that a resident at London's kinkiest event is privy to.
"It's arrive, go backstage, go onstage and not much time for mingling. But you see the best show backstage at a fetish party…"
If you ever wanted to know what a night at the Torture Garden sounds like, but are too scared to nip out in your leathery best, then you're in luck. Here's the current TG top 10 according to the club's selectors…
1. Coyu Feat. Cari Golden - The Cat
2. Dyro - Like a Boss
3. Jauz X Eptic - Get Down
4. Wolfpack & Warp Brothers - Phatt Bass 2016
5. Matt Nash - Fearless
6. Alvaron - The Underground
7. Black Tiger Sex Machine X Apashe Feat. Gabriella Hook - The Grave
8. Uberjak'd - I Like to Rave
9. Royksopp feat. Robyn - Monument Dance (Marcus Marr mix)
10. Mightyfools, Boogshe - Girl on Girl