London Calling

The Gate Crasher: May 2012

Where do you go if you want good-looking girls in Vienna? Well, if you wanted to make the best of what there was on offer, what would you do for an evening? Passage? Platzhirsch? Scotch? Box? Grelle Forelle? Club Couture? There are hundreds of clubs. Ten years ago when I was first here, there was only one – that subterranean, unbearably loud hellhole, Passage.

Now, of course, it’s a different story. Talent is stretched thin over a myriad of bare nightspots – a recipe for girls having prohibitively high self-esteem, and for me not getting what I want.

Naturally this is all absurd. Put most of these lasses in even a bog-standard London nighterie and they would be blown away, although frustratingly it doesn’t help to tell them that: Loser that I am, I have tried! In London, there’s a sort of free-rolling, debauched holiday-like vibe that comes from men with too much money chasing glammed up girls looking for a good time.

So when my old Cambridge pal J- got in touch (together we must be the two least luminous alumni of that great institution) and suggested a London binge it was game on.

“You decide,” he said and was off, with a magisterial wave of the hand.

He returned clutching two big ones of Smirnoff. “Get that down ya gullet,” he said, handing me one of the bottles. “Well?”

“How am I meant to know?” I looked out of the window at the overflow of after work drinkers on the pavement outside The Anglesey, a faint orange under the street lighting in the falling dusk. It seemed years since I’d been here. “China-White?”

“Come on, get with it!” he said, rolling his eyes. “It’s Luxe, Public, DSTRKT, Movida, Cirque…”

“OK, OK,” I hastily interrupted. What was this? But I was starting to feel the old crusading spirits return. “Just pick one and let’s get on with it….” I screwed my eyes shut and took another swig of the vodka.

Outside DSTRKT I was delighted to see some girls turned away.

“Face control… They could do with some of that on my patch,” I remarked to J- whose attention was occupied by an Iranian girl in a transparent dress nearby.

“I’m talking,” I said, punching him on the arm. “What?” he replied turning to me with a scowl. “Oh them? Not well-dressed enough. This is London!”

After some argie-bargie on the door, we were in.

Well what a difference to Vienna! Pretty girl, pretty girl, cute bum, great outfit, pretty girl and – ok, perhaps it was just the Vodka – but were they not looking at me, just a little?

A platinum blonde in tiny dress strolled up to me. “Got a cigarette?”


“You wanna come up and get one with me?” Bingo. Another score for London: the smoking area. Compare the Passage: no possibility above the deafening roar for a few well-chosen words to seal the deal. Charm, at my age, is not to be neglected.

The girl grabbed my hand and started to drag me to the exit, but before we had got half way she broke free.

“Naz!” she shrieked in delight and wrapped her arms some big guy in a shiny suit.

I stood waiting and hoping, but it was not to be. She turned back to me. “Another time darling.” Right.

“I remember China White,” J- was saying as we sped towards his favourite kebab joint on the Old Edgware Road. “That was one cool nightclub – just one in those days, it made everything so much easier. Now it’s average stuff in a whole bunch of clubs.”

I looked at the cross-strap of his seatbelt curving over edge of his protruding belly and instinctively felt the line of my receding hair.  I tried not to think too much.

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