We’ve been to How Does It Feel’s Cavendish Square edition before, so there are certain things we know to expect tonight. The Cavendish Square venue (The Phoenix) is an elegant basement with textured wallpaper, a decent-sized dancefloor and a well-stocked, if slightly expensive, bar. How Does It Feel’s DJs play “indie pop, northern soul, Tamla Motown, girl groups, and sixties heartbreak”, which all adds up to a night of retro fun.
The Canterbury Arms, behind the police station in Brixton, is rather different. We pay £6 to get into the back room of an old man’s pub. The walls are yellowish, half the lights are on, and there are rainbow-coloured ‘DISCO FEVER’ posters on the walls. The place has the vibe of a village hall, and brings back bad memories of those eighteenth birthday parties that are unexpectedly attended by the host’s entire family. It’s almost strange there isn’t an Iceland finger food buffet.
The venue might have seemed a good idea in theory: it certainly carries on the retro theme. But, it practice, it doesn’t quite come together. There is something awkward about dancing with too many lights on.
On the plus side, the drinks are reasonably priced and the music is still excellent. They play the classics: Baby Love, All Day And All Of The Night, Mrs Robinson – but they mix it up with lesser-known retro tracks. At times not having an encyclopaedic knowledge of underground 60s music means you don’t know what you’re dancing to half the time, but they’re all quality pop tunes.
The clientele tonight seem never to have looked beyond the 60s. Most of them are about 32, and dress like toned-down versions of Austin Powers characters – quite different from the young and trendy crowd that turn up at The Phoenix.
By about half one the crowd is coupling off, and numbers are already beginning to dwindle – meaning we, as under-25s, are starting to stand out like children at a wedding. The retro hits are now few and far between, and our enthusiasm is waning.
In future, we’ll make the effort to mission into central London, where the lights are low and it’s ok to be young.