Here's something I learned last weekend: you could search to the ends of the earth, see bleeding sunsets, crystal-clear oceans, cavernous blue skies and vistas stretching further than you could ever conceive, and still, the closest you would ever get to finding the meaning of life would be in a sweaty club in Hackney, jostling your body against others' and shout-singing along to ABBA's many hits.
I learned this because last Friday, in a culmination of months of anticipation, I went to the second-ever ABBA After Midnight, an east London club night where you pay a fiver for an advance ticket to go and stand in a room and listen/dance/lip sync for your life to exclusively ABBA songs. For over three hours. And despite being, in the words of its organiser, "basically thought up while drunk by myself listening to 'The Winner Takes it All'", both events so far have sold out in advance – and the second had to be moved to a larger venue due to demand for the first.
Maybe this sounds familiar: pop theme nights, especially in London, are more common than Prets. But ABBA After Midnight is different – it's transcendent. Have you ever been in a room where you're just one of a few hundred people all screaming word-perfect renditions of "Waterloo"? Have you seen people arm in arm with their friends, glassy eyed, singing along to "The Name of the Game"? Or have you powerfully slutdropped to "Gimme! Gimme! Gimme!"?
As of a few days ago, I have done and seen all of these things, and I feel pretty secure in saying that in a way, I understand more about life, escapism and music now than I did before. But I also have to ask this: why now? Why, in big, foreboding 2017, where we have iPhones and trap music, are people so desperate to attend a night centred on a Swedish pop group from the 1970s?
Read the rest over at Noisey.