On Saturday night I went to my first Razor Stiletto (been meaning to go to one of their monthly bashes for almost a year now). I had a great time, the venue (DQ) was perfect, the crowd very friendly and more outrageously hip than any I’d previously encountered in Sheffield, and I was surprised to bump into little Hugh, who I didn’t know (even though I already knew – if you see what I mean) plays guitar for The Pollinates. It was also fun to see Bruce Airhead live, having previously caught a little of his act on kids’ TV a couple of weeks ago, and I had a great time playing the duelling photographer with Jacqui.
The night wasn’t perfect though – I drank too much (bourbon & coke all night long, until 20 bottles later they ran out of bourbon, so I switched to rum & coke. The 20 bottles weren’t drunk by me alone, I should add). And although I took many, many photos, and got a few great ones, I didn’t feel at all happy with either my method or the results. I initially tried various approaches, but once the three acts had finished I resorted to taking lots of long-exposures using front-curtain flash, mostly hipshots, with only the vaguest inkling of what the resulting photo might look like (an approach that had worked well for me at the Burlesque night two weeks earlier). A combination of drunkeness, cowardice and lack of inspiration prevented me from doing anything more interesting, and although some of the results are among my best party photos, I feel like a cheat. I need to find some new inspiration before I take my camera out again to an event like this.
I also felt a little strange, distanced from everybody else there. One reason I enjoy having my camera at events like this is because it gives me something to do, it gives me excuse not to interact, or to interact in a slightly different way, it helps me to maintain a distance. But Razor Stilletto’s crowd was so young, beautiful and debauched, I felt more than ever that I wanted to be a part of it, and more than ever I felt old, overweight, out of place. Although everyone was incredibly friendly, I left feeling that I hadn’t really connected with anyone else there, and wishing that I had.
To put a final negative spin on events, when I got ready to leave I discovered that my jacket had been stolen. I’d had a strange relationship with my jacket all evening. When I was at home, preparing to leave, I was about to put on my usual duffel coat, but wishing I had something a little more lightweight which would keep me warm against the early December buffeting winds (and the risk of rain) and yet wouldn’t be too unwieldy to wear around a nightclub. By chance, my eye rested on my flourescent Pose Roadboy jacket hanging on the back of a chair. It seemed perfect, so I wore it.
I’ve had the jacket for ten years now; I took it home from Hard Media, where it had been used for a launch party for a new Lucozade drink. The theme of the party had been “emergency services”, and Mark had got his friends at Pose to donate a load of clothing inspired by the workwear of doctors, nurses etc. This coat was an almost exact rip-off of the safety-wear fluorescent jackets worn by traffic police, it even had the word “Pose” printed on a small royal-blue tab over the left breast, where normally a “Police” label might reside. I don’t wear it very often: in the ten years that I’ve had it, I’ve probably only been out in it on average 4 or 5 times a year. But it is handy when I need a light but slightly insulated waterproof jacket. I decided that spotting the jacket there was fate, so I strolled into town wearing it. I got a few strange looks on the way, especially once I arrived into a crowded pub, and I felt a bit wary walking past several genuine policemen on my way. But it seemed perfect for the weather.
When, at the end of the night, I discovered that the jacket had been stolen, I wasn’t at first that bothered. Like I said, I hardly ever wear it. I could even imagine that the thief had helped me out with some forced decluttering. I suppose I do feel a little emotional attachment to it: the jacket is, I believe, a one-off, a unique catwalk garment, and I’d always imagined it might be worth good money one day. But I got it as a freebie, and easy come, easy go.
I started to feel more pissed off when I realised that several other people had also had coats stolen. They had also lost essential items that were in the pockets: house keys, spectacles. True, this made me feel a little smug (I’d deliberately cleared my pockets) but also outraged that some inconsiderate thief could leave these poor people in such a state, especially after what had seemed such a loving, friendly night. To top it all, a bouncer wondered around us saying “well, what do you expect? You knew you were leaving them there at your own risk, of course they’re going to get stolen”. This was probably true (the coats had been un-ticketed, on a rail near the entrance to the venue) but unhelpful, and didn’t much help the fact that my faith the essential goodness of all humans had (once again) been shattered. In fact on the way in that night, when I’d been warned that I left my coat at my own risk, I joked with the woman on the door “if you see anyone who isn’t me heading out of the door, glowing in the dark, please let me know”, and she laughed back in (what I took to be) an “of course nobody would steal a coat as obvious as yours” way.
So, I walked home, in thin trousers and a thin t-shirt. Of course, it started raining. I considered taking a cab, but I had already blown so much money on bourbon that I couldn’t face it. Instead, I binged: found one of the few chip shops still open at 4am and stuffed my face with cold, unsatisfying chips. By the time I arrived home, some half-an-hour later, I was soaked to the skin, freezing and shivering. And depressed. There had been no specific incident that sent me over the edge, but the combination of little disappointments all served to magnify my earlier disatisfaction with my photography, and suddenly I found it hard to see anything positively any more. Things have got a little better since then, but now, two days later, I still feel pretty moody and generally sad.
If anyone sees a fluorescent Pose jacket for sale on EBay or elsewhere, please let me know (and nail the bastard who’s selling it).