Making a Scene – Original Underground for Faces Old and New at the New Untouchables Nutty New Year.
It seems like an oddly long time since me and a handful of friends stumbled across our first ‘Mousetrap’ down in Finsbury Park. But suffice to say, as I sit here typing out this article, that particular night those couple years ago left quite an impression on us then unwitting new comers. As the last few years have flown by in a wild blur, so too did the night of December 31st 2011, where the very same little group of us found ourselves dancing relentlessly into 2012 at the New Untouchables Nutty New Year. Truth be told, we’ve always had a storming night at New Untouchables do’s, happy to part with our pounds and our brain cells and dance till dawn- whether it be to vintage soul, R&B, garage, psych or reggae.
Over the course of time we’ve met some top people too amongst the motley crew of characters that attend – with last Saturday’s round of fun being no exception. And if there’s one thing for sure that you can take from a NUTs night it’s that everyone present is here to revel bask in that everlasting decade which refuses to die, the fair old 1960s. Uniting die hard enthusiasts and scene tourists alike, the Nutty New Year was a terrific testament to the decades continued longevity. After attending the 2011 new years bash, I decided to get down with a little bit of Gonzo journalism and give the folks at NUTsMag a few words on how things unfolded at this year’s big farewell.
After what seemed like a life time of waiting for my right hand man Alex to get his act together, and feeling like the world’s sharpest 60’s football manager throw back in my mohair strides and sheepskin coat, I set foot on the local tube platform in wait of the revelry ahead. Inevitably drawing a few interesting looks from the low-jeaned wet look would-be-lotharios of the local Walkabout branch, I reflected to myself that it’s nice to know that whatever alcopop-fuelled orange skinned and ugg-booted distressed denim disaster that would be taking place elsewhere on the streets of England on New Years Eve, would certainly not being taking place inside the walls of 229 this evening. Snobbery aside perhaps, one thing that’s for sure is that an absolute blinder of an evening was laying in wait for me, my good friend Alex, and everyone else in attendance for that matter.
Following more than a couple of rum and cokes at a nearby residence we made our entrance at 229 and the night is already in top gear, the swinging combination of a festive atmosphere and giddy hedonism putting paid to anyone who was planning on having a dull time tonight. A throng of people crowd the bar and the main room dance floor is buzzing. I get a drink in and chew the fat with the assembled crew and take a look around the place.
With the main musical touchstones of the 60’s thoroughly attended to by the DJ’s, every respective scene is out in force. Amidst the bobbing heads you can take your pick of haircuts and get-ups- for the blokes it’s Jones-esque mop-tops bobbing to British beat above roll necks, sharp side partings to finish trim suits cutting moves to vintage R&B, hippyish side-burned fops in flares strut to psych, oxford bags abound out on the floor amongst the numbers here for classic Northern, and more than a few chrome-domed veterans out to show a few of us younger characters how it’s done.
And what about the girls? Well the girls are Fine, and also everywhere. Beehives mingle with bobs and like the chaps it’s no-styles-barred with psych girls in baby doll dresses and skin chicks in skirts and Weejuns; there’s white tights and shift dresses and dolly shoes, plenty of porcelain faces and dark lashes galore adorning dusky eye shadow; floppy hats and bright tunics with splashes of paisley and not to mention the occasional 50’s chick looking delightfully dolled up in red lipstick and curled hair, and generally plenty of oh-so-pretty numbers floating and dancing about looking tip top.
It’s a visual banquet for sure, and then before you’ve had time to take it all in and manage to say all your hellos you’re zipping around fully loaded breathing in the surroundings, bumping into familiars and acquaintances, all to the original hip sound track. It’s a task to keep one foot in the present with a cigarette on the outside before shaking to garage rock in the ‘beat basement’, then hopping to the R&B room to cut a shuffle with some seriously good dancers; ‘Pow Wow’ comes on and everyone’s on the floor dancing to what will incidentally be the only song I will be able to properly remember from the mad fog of this Saturday night… Bad I know- but there’s just no time to make a note let alone a mental one when things are going this fast and every tune’s a winner.
The continuous rampage through the rotation of rooms inevitably leads me back to the main hall to join the bustling masses dancing to Northern Soul. It’s near on impossible to break the rhythm with everyone putting in the usual monumental shift on the dance floor, and it is hear along with all the familiar faces and friends around that the night drifts effortlessly into the small hours. Demands for one more song are met with everyone moving frenziedly till the very last note. And then just like that, it’s all over. Another night consigned to the scrapbook, although admittedly taking the executive decision to Hunter S. Thompson this night till the very last tune spun out on the turntable, has meant it’s proved rather hard for me to recall the multitude of top tunes I heard throughout the course of the night.
And though this particular bout of alc-zeimers saddens me somewhat I know for sure that the excellency of the music is not up for dispute, and rarely has it ever been at the many New Untouchables nights I’ve been too. From Charles Sheffield to Chuck Wood through to Cherry Slush and The Seeds then back round to Don Drummond, and while we’re at it Shocking Blue and The Attack, there’s isn’t a stone-cold 60’s gem I haven’t heard at a NUTs all-nighter, not to mention the many rarities that’s had me hurriedly making lists on my phone at the side of the floor in the not-so-distant past.
But don’t leave it to a sift-brained punter like me to tell you how it is, because there’s no substitute for experience. Sharpen up and get yourself along to the next New Untouchable’s date and let the real experts educate your ears and get your feet stepping to the vintage sounds of that old 60s ship that’s showing no signs of sinking any time soon. That’s if you haven’t done already of course.
So for now this has been Arthur Gun for New Untouchables Magazine a.k.a NUTsMag. Happy belated New Year to everyone and I guess I’ll be seeing you at the next one. Until then…
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