Previously: Stoke Newington
WHERE WAS THE PARTY?
Headingley, a suburban area of Leeds full of students and, presumably, some longtime home-owners deeply upset to be surrounded by students. Besides the abundance of term-time houses decorated sparsely with club night posters, Headingley is also home to: a sports stadium, a decent vegan doughnut shop, a disused bear pit (?) and JRR Tolkien's old house.
A local resident told me the students who live there go out in fancy dress every weekend, which sounded too expensive to be practical, but was confirmed when I walked past a group of teenage girls wearing army uniforms and remembered that student maintenance loans aren't meant to be used on anything vaguely practical.
A three or four-floored student house just off the main road. It had floors, a roof, walls, windows and just about everything houses usually have. Nothing to write home about, but it was undeniably spacious for student accommodation. That said, this is Leeds, not London: most nearby houses were exactly the same.
Approximately 80 people. It was hectic – one of those nights where occasionally you'd have to slide across a wall, chin to your chest, to get somewhere, not helped by endless more guests spawning out of nowhere like a glitch in The Sims.
It was popping off. Everyone arrived absolutely trashed after a Crows gig in town, meaning there was no awkward small chat warm-up, just 80 people ploughing headfirst into oblivion.
People had travelled from Manchester, Hull, London and Wakefield to celebrate the double birthday the night was in aid of, meaning a proper effort had been made all round and everyone was determined to have a great time. Only weird thing was that most of these people seemed to be named Alex.
There was a basement show in one of the downstairs bedrooms, cleared entirely of furniture, and it was genuinely refreshing to see music played in a way that didn't seem like a cash grab.
I did also notice a recycling bin – we have no choice but to stan an environmentally conscious piss-up.
Within the first five minutes, someone was screeching along to The Smiths played off an iPhone – but luckily that crooning xenophobe and his slurring fangirl didn't set the tone for the evening. IN the living room, Brown Sugah Music and a guy called Matthew Heuck were DJing. In the basement, bdrmm and Polevaulter played sets to a packed out room. The latter's cover of "Born Slippy" had 30-plus people screaming, "Lager! Lager! Lager! Lager! Lager!"
No idea how the neighbours didn't kick off.
The four main party areas seemed to be: front room, back garden, basement-bedroom-turned-gig-venue and the kitchen. Literally every square foot of the house was packed, though you could momentarily take a breather in some of the quieter bedrooms.
You could smoke on the steps out front or the steps out back. Calling that scenario "a garden" is a bit generous, but you don't really need much more outdoors space at a party in January.
There were two toilets upstairs, right next to each other. The loo on the right was fine; it did the job. It was small and there was noticeably a litter tray right next to the toilet but no sign of a cat. But it was fine. The loo on the left had an abandoned ski lodge vibe, in that everything was fitted with wood but also covered in a detectable layer of grime.
Despite the students of Leeds apparently keeping the British fancy dress industry in business, nobody there had even a shred of costume on. Casual looks all round.
A bit of everything, really, besides the Bad Ones – at least to my knowledge. One girl was openly doing a line of coke upon arrival, I spied a few bags of ket here and there, and noted the spliffs kindly passed around for the wind-down.
One girl was explaining that she'd told her tutor what pegging was before he saw her absolutely shitfaced and somehow wearing six life jackets on a uni trip. That conversation was interrupted by a guy coming over to say he'd just been kicked out of a pub for playing with the candle wax. Legends only.
The only bad thing about this party is that somebody nicked my friend's bag of cans after I'd been entrusted with looking after it. I desperately needed the loo, and in the 120 seconds it took me to get upstairs and back down, somebody had made off with all our precious alcohol. Luckily someone left their gin out, though, so we topped up on that.
Everyone else mostly had tins or bottles of wine. Cheap and cheerful.
You know what? Everyone there was genuinely really pleasant. At London house parties, everyone spends the whole night avoiding eye contact with people, then gets too drunk or coked up and – depending on their state – cries or stays there talking about work for longer than anyone legally should.
Here? People were asking me genuine questions about my life??? Unheard of. I also had a lovely chat about Fatboy Slim's side projects and the new Beastie Boys documentary with the boy who turned his room into a music venue. Another girl was going around asking people over and over if they knew about PC Music, and while quite annoying, we'll allow it. Better to be hyped about something you love than to be an arsehole when you're drunk IMO.
By the time I was ready to go (had drunk so much I had to leave), the shoe rack holding everyone's stuff up had collapsed, so after bravely rescuing my bag and coat from the rubble I headed out into an early morning shit-show. Parties across Headingley were turfing out drunk guests dressed as anything from cowboys to crayons, and it truly felt being stuck in a fever dream the whole way to the hotel.