On Saturday Jared brought us with him to a night that his workmate was djing at. We thought it’d be some party in a bad bar and had postponed showing up until it was nearly midnight when we were all soft from whiskey. Arriving we walked down the parking lot behind McDonald’s to find that the entrance was two folding doors leading down to a concrete shaft of a forgotten World War II bunker. Taken by surprised we looked at each other, chuckled and warily entered. Within the grimy walls covered in a slimy surface the organisers had decorated with burning candles and fairy lights, shedding just enough light to not cave in to the damp darkness.
The whole place smelled of toxic spray paint. We asked the boy in some funny, obviously “ironic”, beanie selling red stripes behind a make do bar what it came from. He directed us through various empty rooms to a girl going mental, obsessively covering all walls in golden penises. Losing braincells by the second we quickly returned to the main room where the djs were setting up. We queued up to buy those cans from the boy in the beanie again. Next to us two girls had set up a table selling a glitter make-over for a few quid. Everybody do what they can to make a few more coins. Once I had my can in hand I approached them asking about their business when some boy decides to buy me a make over. I felt like a queen.
Sparkled up I joined the rest of my gang a little later, hanging out in another room. Olivia had found what looked like a door in one of the blocks of concrete, so small that only toddlers would be able to stand up straight in them. We went up to it and peaked through, a solid blackness gaping back at us. A little drunk and a lot braver than I usually am, I dared her to climb in there with me.
“No we can’t go in there, who knows what could be in there!” she responded.
“I know, but how bad could it be, right? Somebody must’ve searched through the premises before setting up a club here, no?” Although, this was Dalston so I wasn’t so sure myself.
“Okay. Yeah, alright then. Let’s do it, let’s go inside and have a look!” I was taken aback by her agreeing and almost wished she hadn’t.
“At least people will hear if we scream.”
She laughed as we turned on the torches on our iphones, crouched down and climbed through into the dark abyss. Squeezing through, trying not to touch the walls that were like frogs’ backs. Once inside the air was stuffy and wet. The sound from the dj booth was more muffled, more distant in here. Echoes from water drops crashing into the wet floor bounced between the walls and then the sound of our footsteps and our breaths. They clung in the air like undisturbed clouds.
“Woah, this is pretty insane. Look at all these things! How long do you reckon this has been here?”
“I don’t know. I guess since this place was in use last, like during WW2 or something. Crazy.”
I guided the white iphone light around the room, revealing overturned wooden desks and school benches made for another era. It looked like somebody had just left in a hurry, dropped it all, fled. I imagined what it’d be like, being trapped in here with bombs being dropped overhead. Terrified for the ceiling to cave in. Then probably bored, waiting around for the next attack. They must’ve been in here for quite some time if they even held classes in here. It terrified me how the state of the world somehow seem closer to this reality than it has for decades.
No windows or other entrances were to be found, apart from one other tiny opening in the far end of the room. Stepping over rotting benches through the flooded floor our shoes got wet. We climbed through just to discover another room with another little exit. Through several of these openings we advanced, getting more creeped out and more bold with every one, the concrete leaving white marks on our backs when we graced its surface. It was the same story in most of them, decomposing belongings left behind. It felt creepy digging through somebody’s old shit, and we decided that one shouldn’t gamble with fate for too long.
We abandoned our adventure, like the residents of this place did before us, and headed back out to the party. The other rooms had started filling up and people were dancing as the chicks behind the dj booth played tracks from my years in Kenya, all on vinyl. Most had never heard them before, and clearly didn’t know how to move, but still danced in pure joy. We joined in, dancing the bizarre dance of being joyful in a bunker. I dearly hope this isn’t a grotesque version of the calm before the storm.
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