Articles - 1st April 2019

Party Through the Panic

Words by Elinor Potts
Illustration by Oscar Price

It feels like we’re treading water in the riptide of History. It’s dizzying, disorienting and subtly ethereal. Where are the Archivists? Are we relishing each clock rotation? Has it ever been so bad? We’re certainly not short of commentators. Rather, we are saturated with voices, exclamative headlines, fruitless petitions and anodyne tweets. As Oscar Wilde once slurred, in between sips from an Absinthe drip,I can resist everything except temptation’.

And what better time to yield to temptation than when the country teeters on the brink of anarchy? In Oscar’s spirit, here is a love letter to uninhibited, remedial hedonism; a toast to dancing in the flux. Having sheepishly adopted this mantra myself this week, for method’s sake, I shall attempt to piece together the patches of the past week; a bizarre collection of subversively celebratory parties and anecdotes scribbled on the backsides of visitor passes, from Bethnal Green to Peckham Rye to the House of Commons.

In a strange twist of fate, an invitation to a drinks reception appeared in my inbox from a reputable London magazine I’d sent an optimistic review pitch to. What immediately caught my attention was that the drinks were to be hosted at the House of Commons by Conservative MP, Eurosceptic, minimum wage opposer who ‘Couldn’t survive on 64 [a £64,000 annual salary]’ and general lark; Nigel Evans.

With the proposed withdrawal from the European Union a mere three days away at this point, and never one to turn down the call of complimentary drinks and snacks, I channelled Wilde’s words and invited my ex-boyfriend along for the ride. After shutting up shop at my day job and taking a swift bus to parliament, I sailed straight into the belly of the beast with a clandestine EU flag in my blazer pocket. And what a beast!

Whilst my guest and I arrived too late to catch any of the talks given by our parliamentary representatives, highlights of the evening selectively included tiny domed brownies with areolic frosting, miniature quiches, and, the waiter apologising for the depleted wine stocks and sympathetically offering us substitutionary champagne. This was followed by witnessing an esteemed guest being escorted away by a security guard for expressing concern at the state of the NHS whilst we mindlessly swanned around a palace in dinner suits eating miniature gold-tipped cornettos.

When the schmoozing wound down, we snuck into the Stranger’s Bar, attempting to purchase a pint with bravado, rather than security passes. We failed, stealthily relieving a stray, half-empty bottle of wine and decanting the illicit parliamentary juice into water glasses on the terrace- in the company of a Tunisian author who smoked cigarettes as long and as slender as her fingers. I exited the palace as dumbstruck as I’d felt when I arrived, spinning around with my head back in the nucleus of the central lobby whilst two live news broadcasts documented the latest reports of the ongoing debate.  

The next stop on this Hedonist’s odyssey was at UnderPinned’s very own distinguished new workplace in East London for the launch of their virtual office platform. Tastefully arranged tropical plants, a sea of snack pots, espresso martinis, and heady Italian pale ales aside, the evening offered a rare opportunity to socialise with freelancers from all walks of life, from Quiz Masters to Photographers, Visual Artists and Musicians, the company and conversations were predictably colourful. No disgraceful evictions here, only beaming smiles and matte black business cards.

The following morning’s hangover was sweetened by the release of Billie Eilish’s debut album When We All Fall Asleep, Where Do We Go? greedily blasted after a weekly instalment of Drag Race, washed down with a pint of nutritious green pulp. Cobwebs dusted, I ineffectively tried dragging my sorry self to the self-described ‘Grassroots C.I.C Multi-disciplinary Network and think-tank/content platform’, Themselves Warehouse Festival at Copeland Park, Peckham.

Showcasing the finest creative pioneers of South East London, the festival boasted a uniquely multidisciplinary schedule of performances, workshops, zine-selling, Q&As and panel discussions as well as films, gallery space, live bands, opera, pop-up choirs, and ‘Tarzan’s rave room’. The collective’s three-day festival kicked off at 4:30pm on Friday afternoon, with musical headliners HTMLD and Caleb Femi bolstering festivities until 3:30am, meanwhile, I tucked myself into bed after an exhausting week of half-heartedly trialling a Hedonistic manifesto.

Is there any moral take-home to these experiences? In sum, Hedonism is bloody great fun but hangovers are far less pleasurable to navigate. Feeling downtrodden by the lack of decisive political leadership and general futility of democracy by name only? Get so hungover that your eyes are unable to focus on the headlines and party through the panic.

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