Previously: Headingley, Leeds
WHERE'S THE PARTY?
Kingston upon Thames, technically a south-west borough of Greater London, formerly an area of Surrey. A quick Google search describes it as "a generally nice place" – a statement undermined as soon as we stepped off the train and immediately into a fight outside a pub. Home to a diverse arts university, Banquet Records, for some reason, and one of the most chaotic PRYZM clubs in the country, the area clearly has a large student population.
Student digs above a converted pub, approximately ten minutes from the station and other remnants of civilisation. With no obvious way in, we had to text one of the hosts to guide us around the back, which made it feel like both an illegal rave and a viewing for a potential rental.
Everyone seemed nice enough, and there wasn't a single drop of the holier-than-thou London attitude that plagues zones 1-5. Things got a bit sloppy when one guy accidentally headbutted a girl as he drunkenly fell to the floor moments after somebody else knocked over a massive plant pot, but other than that everything seemed pretty chill.
At the beginning it was just us and the hosts, which is usually the case when you turn up to a house party on time. But after a few hours they'd managed to pack 60 to 70 people in there, which was very overwhelming. My mate's girlfriend was apparently in attendance, but it was so crowded I didn't see her once.
Casual, but with a strict "no shoes" policy. Those warned beforehand took the opportunity to make a statement, wearing their best and boldest socks with polka dots, fried eggs and other wacky designs. I, very embarrassingly, rocked up in a plain black pair from Sainsbury's. Someone kindly lent me some flame print ones so I didn't feel left out, which was very nice of them, but also something they would quickly come to regret, because I stood in a spilt drink within minutes of putting them on.
As always, the kitchen served as the main party zone, complete with a DJ booth assembled from safety signs of dubious origin. I'd be lying if I said I didn't turn around mid-dance to admire the sheer size and range of the spice rack – a kitchen essential I personally didn't invest in until after graduation.
Pretty much every other room in the house had a "theme" going. One bedroom had been turned into a jungle with green lighting, endless house plants and looping rainforest sounds. There was also a "slumber party" room full of mattresses with a projector, and a pink hallway of mirrors complete with a smoke machine. You could tell art students lived there, because it was designed like a fun house as viewed through the lens of someone in a K-hole.
It was an upstairs flat, so there was no garden. Instead, there was a window with a "SMOKING AREA" sign above it, facilitating the popular activity of breathing tobacco fumes in and out of your lungs. Desperate times led to other windows throughout the building being used in a similar manner.
The toilets were right next to each other, right next to the smoking window, which meant the stairs got super congested. The big bathroom had green lighting and that diamond plate metal flooring, which made it feel a bit like you were in Robot Wars. Though less entertaining, the smaller bathroom provided humorous reading material in the form of Taschen's The Little Book of Big Penis (however, spending a second too long comparing the dicks resulted in impatient knocks from queueing guests).
Plenty of toilet paper was provided, as well as adequate sanitary disposal. 8/10, would pee again.
The majority of drugs were done in the big bathroom, which was unnecessary but understandable in a large crowd. When I asked if there were any bags making the rounds, I was instructed to speak to "one of the white boys" and told there was no speed.
With the nearest off-license closing at midnight, alcohol quickly became a precious resource. I caught one girl eyeing up my bottle of gin left on the side, so it was important to stay vigilant. The main concoctions seemed to be gin and tins – a classic.
Not banter necessarily, but one takeaway was that a seemingly very wise girl named Mina who I met in the toilet queue was doing tarot card readings. First, she told me about a "new beginning you aren't ready for", before disappearing into the bog. When she came back out she offered a deeper second reading, which told me to watch out for a male authoritative figure: my dad? My landlord? The shopkeeper next door who charges £1 for a single Creme Egg? Hard to say.
Banger after banger played by DJs given actual set times. Cheesy y2k tunes and the entire Doja Cat and Shygirl discography were carefully interspersed between techno and other club genres. Drop the Soundcloud links, I beg.
Okay, so: I didn't realise neanderthals were a different species from humans. In my tiny pea brain, I was convinced that we evolved from them, not that human beings killed the rival species off? Anyway, me showing my arse in such a manner was the only conversation I can remember, besides another one where I accidentally called physical art "actual art" to a room of digital creatives. Next time I go out in public, I might simply refrain from speaking.
You know what? I truly would have loved to see how this party played out – however, somebody who came with us had drunkenly fallen asleep and wasn't responding when shaken. This scared one of the girls who lived there, so props to the hosts for being so attentive and concerned for the safety of their guests. With seemingly nowhere safe to leave him, we took him home – a treacherous journey that took a little over two hours. Rumour has it the DJ playing just as we left was sick out of the window after being unable to string a couple of tunes together.